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Writer Defends Adulterers, Calls the Rest of Us “Holier Than Thou”

Mon, Aug 31, 2009

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secret_affairphoto via venetia_joubert_sarah_oosterveld

If you’ve listened to Howard Stern even once over the past decade (that’d be Em, not Lo), then you know that one of his most loyal advertisers is the Ashley Madison Agency — the online dating site that caters to married people with the tagline “Life is short. Have an affair.” Charming. On and off over the years, we’ve thought about reporting on Ashley Madison, but every time we did, steam would come out of our ears and we’d realize that our entire article would consist of seven words, most likely typed in all caps: “Stop cheating you slimeball pieces of shit.” Just because the site sounds like it was named by Nora Roberts, as Jezebel so brilliantly notes, doesn’t mean it’s any less sleazy, immoral, unethical, or just plain wrong. Fortunately not everyone is as “narrow-minded” as we are; Melanie Berliet, a writer for Vanity Fair recently investigated the site to find out why men cheat, which involved interviewing men who said things like “I’m a big believer in monogamy through adultery.”

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130 Responses to “Writer Defends Adulterers, Calls the Rest of Us “Holier Than Thou””

  1. james Says:

    I just want to add, had I ever learnt that my dad cheated on my mother, had I learnt about this later in life, I would personaly send my father to a dentist.

    A father that could had disrespected my mother like that, and my sisters, would be a piece of trash that deserved no mercy.

    I can feel my blood boiling at such supposition.

  2. balance Says:


    I agree with you, my blood boils too at such a thought. Cheating is not for me. I have a certain sense of loyalty and so do you and some others on this site, which is great to hear.
    I am just pointing at the fact that sometimes, some women do not want to hear anything that will break their comfort. And sometimes, men do the same. That gives only once choice to the man or woman who wants to talk without partner: divorce. And I understand that divorce means too much for some when children are involved. Courage is different for each of us.
    True, as you point out, children know, they feel something is wrong. I would advise Orton to divorce, but keep friendly with his wife. A divorce doesn’t need to be something violent. A lot of diplomaty would be needed. But this way, his wife would keep Orton as her best friend, she wouldn’t get the risk of being hurt by discovering he cheats, and a friendly time-table could be drawn for the custody of the children.
    Of course, this is wishful thinking, and Orton probably knows best what needs to be done. We are after all judging his situation without having all the infos in hand.

  3. Lady Tarrant Says:

    By no means am I trying to imply that there are no exceptional cases. I realize that there are always exceptions to the rule. However, our society has become centered around telling ourselves that we are special and different. And we are, but that has led us down a treacherous path. Because see ourselves as special and unique we assume that all of our situations are special and unique, too. Following that line of thinking, we see ourselves and our situations constantly as the exception. We consistently justify our actions and feelings based on being the exception. And of course this is natural for us; we give in to this thinking because it feels a whole lot better than just admitting we screwed up. This leads people into making excuse after excuse and finding justification wherever is convenient, in order to escape facing their faults and weaknesses. When we allow ourselves to continuously make excuses for our shameful behavior we open ourselves to a very dangerous path of self deceit. Mayhap many who cheat feel justified because their situation is exceptional, but where else in their lives will they begin deluding themselves to keep the justification intact, and where have they already? It is a dangerous road one travels when one uses lies and deceit. The high road was never promised to be pleasant or easy, but what’s right is right regardless. Exceptions are few, excuses are plentiful when it comes to living a lie.
    For those FEW who may be trapped in an exceptional situation, I give my sympathy. But most just trample on these few’s ordeals and use them as an example to justify their own unjustifiable transgressions.

  4. balance Says:

    Yes, Lady Tarrant, it is another point you make.

    Maybe our society has accustomed us too to change, snap to other things and zap to new channels to stay content. We are a society that doesn’t know anymore what real discomfort means. Maybe with wealth we become weak? And with more choices we become spoiled? And, especially in big cities, there is always the chance that you can get an even better deal, and that goes in the world of dating too.
    We have become consumers, and I keep wondering if the amount of divorces and cheating that seems to become overwhelming over the years is not also a sign that consumerism has reached our way of living.
    We do not make an effort anymore with what we have. We become self-centered and think hapiness is fullness.
    Also, with this society we live in, TV and Ipods and video games make us live like blind, dumb and deaf people. No more communication. Even in bars nowadays, the music is so loud you can hardly hear your neighbor.

    Then, as it is said above, there is also the matter of health.

    In fact, cheating or not cheating is a very vast debate. We have to face many facets of ourselves and our society, psychological triggers and health, moral and respect issues, ways of living, and education.

    This is why I think that we cannot judge the people in this discussion, as we know only part of their story, part of their character, and part of their background. And we sometimes have only one side of the story.

  5. james Says:


    I undertand were you come from when you talk about couples that compromise on cheating. That could be a solution that the couple could reach to avoid dissolution of marriage and the expenses and quandaries involved.

    But still that is not the way to confront a situation that demands a real and healthy solution. I say this because unless the couple has no kids, or unless it is an older couple were kids are already out to college and further ahead, securing such an arrangemwent will put the kids living at home in peril, and will subject them to psicological damage.

    I had a girlfriend back in the early 90s, in fact, my very first true love. I really loved that woman, and her father was a writ and evident adulterer. My GF resented this issue very much, and her mother was a very angry woman. Not angry at others, but she seemed to hold a lot of anger to herself, she looked very unhappy.

    I could sense all that, albeit I was not part of the family. My GF’s sister, a younger girl, was an outright boy chaser, getting involved with the wrong kind of guys all the time. Self esteem seemed to be the common denominator in that house, except for the father, who was a blatant pig, boasting to me about his adventures.

    My GF told me her parents were together just to keep the house in order and to preclude separation of assets. They were very unhappy, and it seems it was a selfish decision the adult couple took upon, and the daughters paid dearly.

    My then GF had a nervous brakedown after years of taking Prozac and other stuff for depression. The younger sister went into drug use and ended up marrying some idiot looser that apparently all he does is play video games.

    The father was an incurable dog that sacrificed his whole family for his “right” not to separate assets, for his “right” to enjoy his possesions, for his “right” to have sex w/o communicating with his wife, making it easier to cheat, and making it easier to submit his wife to humilliation, instead of acting like a man.

    There are only 2 ways to deal with this effectively, either talk it over and make it work out, or else, for the sake of your kids, separate, divorse, and be friends to your ex, and raise happy well adjusted kids into adulthood

  6. james Says:

    I just want to add, a compromise of that sort is a selfish act on part of the parents, with material ( as in possesions , assets ) concenrs that devalues and ignores the mental and phisical health of the children involved.

    No amount of cry baby scenes will convince me that “poor adults” that have a teen ager sense of right to sex outside their marriage have indeed the right to look for sex outside the marriage .

    In order to have sex, either work it out with your spouse, or dissolution of marriage has to be implemented.

    Grow up, you got married for a reason, to love your spouse and raise your children. If you do not love your spouse any more, or you have irreconciliable differences, be a man ( or a woman ) and do what is right to assure the well being of the kids you brouight into this world.

  7. Orton Says:

    James you are a self involved idiot . You obviously are not in a relationship or have been in anything more than a relationship that has lasted more than a few months Your idea of what constitutes marriage is so shallow and narcissistic it is quite laughable.

    To think a relationship is all about sex is stupid and and to try to explain to you what a deeper commitment meams in the real world is apparently in-effable.

    You are such a narrow minded petty person. I pity anyone who ends up with you .

  8. kb Says:

    Orton-if you have such a deeper commitment, why are you lying? all that is bullsh**. You seem to be the one who doesn’t understand what marriage is about.

  9. james Says:


    I need not respond in kind, it is writ your own explanations denote who is the “idiot” in here.

  10. Elizabeth Says:

    Orton’s explained why he lies to his wife. For whatever reason, he paints her as the type of woman who would rather him sleep around than compromise. I won’t deny that those women exist – I actually know one in person, who is well aware her man has fun outside the bedroom, but prefers it to having sex with him. It’s not something I remotely understand, but it’s her life.

    That being said – I fully believe that Orton’s case, as the case with my friend, are ridiculously rare. I fully believe that most men who cheat do it out of a desire to avoid dealing with whatever is plaguing their relationship (women too). And I believe that most people who agree to be with married men or women on the side have either low self esteem, or absolutely no caring for any other human being than themselves.

    I do hope for Orton’s sake that his children never find out about his discreet little meetings. Because I can say for absolute certain – the kids aren’t going to care if mommy never wanted to ride the pony so to speak… All they are going to see is that daddy betrayed her, and they will hate him for it. Kids don’t tend to forgive their parents’ indiscretions in that area.

  11. james Says:


    Orto never said his wife agrees nor knows about his affairs.

  12. Lady Tarrant Says:

    Thank you, Elizabeth. Eloquently put.

  13. kb Says:

    but, Elizabeth, the thing is he doesn’t-if she’d really rather he sleep around than compromise, he’d tell her and she’d go “meh, have fun” but that’s not what he’s offering. and THAT is what I have a problem with-no, not everyone has to be monogamous. Whatever. but your partner has the right to know what kind of relationship they’re having, and has the right to know what kind of medical risks they’re being exposed to. End of story. He’s taking the cowards way of dealing with what, you’re right, is a legitimate marriage problem.

  14. james Says:

    I join you KB on that statement. This guy has never advised his wife about the situation. Had his wife new about it this would be a different topic.
    Like many cowards, the new topic would be “How do I get my wife back”….
    And like you said KB, even if he is not having sex with his wife, there are plenty of diseases that need no sexual contact to spread all over a family.
    The fact that some couples are so petrified in fear about losing their confort and their closeness to their kids ( that closeness to their kids in fact is detrimental to them. The worse thing that can happen to a growing child is to grow up next to a cheating father or mother. )… is no valid reason to engage in such selfish ( selfish because the parents, the adults in the relationship are deciding that the kids can and should endure the infidelity problems ) compromise.

    A kid living with a cheating parent learns it is ok to cheat, and from the cheated parent they learn that it is just as ok to accept a cheating spouse.

    There are more serious consecuences, and the lack of respect, the callousness and the terrible messages these kids will receive day in and day out are not only wrong, these are criminal behavious on part of said parents.

    When you bring kids to the world, you no longer, never ever again have the luxury of thinking in terms of yourself, never ever. You want sex , but you do not like your spouse, ( but you have children ) then, either fix the situation with that spouse, or else, divorse. You might not like it, but your kids need not be indoctrinated in cheating and in no values.

    No amount of words comming from cheating parents will erase the message kids are receiving every day from said parents.

    At no time Orto has said, mentioned nor implied that his wife is knowledgeable and has compromised to a relationship where he is allowed to stray.

    And even if so, there are kids involved. A couple w/o children can do as they wish, but if kids are in between, it is not a valid situation.

  15. Elizabeth Says:

    Kb – In the situation with my friend, her man has never told her. They aren’t in an open relationship, technically. She knows what is happening, and chooses to ignore it. If what Orton says is true, his wife seems to be the same kind of woman. My friend would never grant her man permission to sleep around if he asked, but she is willing to overlook indiscretions. I don’t get it, but like I said, I’m pretty sure women like that are rather rare.

  16. bill Says:

    guys i have been married for 7yrs and we almost didn’t make it because my wife got a little to friendly with a male stripper..now this wasn’t as bad as an affair but it still hurt like hell i nearly left her but we have ben seeing a marriage counselor for 5 months and believe it or not it works if you are both willing to work at it.. one thing i have always known is that women like attention and some need it more than others and yes we were both ignoring each other..i am still head over heels in love with her and thank god i found out about it before it became something worse..bootom line to both men and women who are married if you are having trouble communicating with each other please consider counseling there is nothing to be ashamed of in admithing that you two are having problems..am i happy at what happend no but if i had to do it all over again i would because it is what saved us..good luck to all people in realtionships and i know just how bad it hurts when you are betrayed..

  17. Elizabeth Says:

    Oh – and to further clarify what I meant about that comment – I am not in any way, shape or form saying that I agree with, condone or would participate in the kind of behavior Orton is partaking in. All I am saying is that most women who have been deeply emotionally intimate with a man are aware when something fishy is going on. They might not know what, but they get it… Orton has flat out said he’s not told his wife. I’m saying that if everything he’s said is true – she probably knows he’s getting it elsewhere somehow and chooses to ignore it.

    I agree with what James is saying about the message they are sending to their kids. It’s sad, because they are telling their children how men and women should act and should be treated. And I agree with the previous poster that if both parties are willing, therapy can work wonders. But, Orton has said that he and his wife have tried that. (This is why I believe she knows. If she’s been informed that her husband “needs” sex, then unless she’s an idiot, she knows he’s doing something about it) He’s made it sound like SHE is the reason therapy doesn’t work.

    I will disagree on one thing though – it is actually about 52% of mothers who get custody of their children in the case of divorce. This varies a bit from state to state, but it is only a little above 50% in each case. In Orton’s case, however – it is more likely his wife would win custody, primarily because of his adultery. It is often used as a weapon in custody battles. Again – I would just say that he and his wife should divorce, because that sounds like a screwed up relationship to me – but, I am not them.

  18. Orton Says:

    In my state the custody rate for mothers is much higher than 52%.
    I find it curious how judgmental and accusatory people who post on these forums can be. I am not like you James you whimpering simp.
    Families are not always about who is sleeping with whom In Europe it is quite common to take a lover. Get over it.

    If you are a swan and mate for life and can suffer a period of celibacy spanning a decade or more fine you can win the lost youth monk award and while you are at it why not beat yourself senseless with birch switches.

    Too many families are torn apart by sexual affairs. The world does not come to a crashing end because you have a lover.

    James is so afraid of disease he must wrap himself in latex every time he leaves the house or jacks himself off.

    It seems to me if you live your life in a black and white world you are missing a hell of a lot of interesting colors.

    I am teaching my children to be open to life and willing to embrace it.

    Good luck with your lives.

  19. Elizabeth Says:

    Orton – I don’t know where you live so I can’t refute that, but like I said – in YOUR specific case it is probably incredibly likely that in a divorce your wife would get the kids, because any divorce lawyer worth his salt is going to point out that you likely spent money on your lover, that you chose to participate in an act that was anti-family and use your affair to paint you as a bad father. I don’t know if that’s true or not, it’s just what would probably happen. I am just saying that IN GENERAL it is not extremely more likely that a mother would get the kids in the average divorce, because judges look at who can be the best primary parent for the child, and that can often be the father.

    Personally – no matter what is going on in your life – sorry, but what you are showing your kids is not openness. You are showing them how one should treat their spouse – which to you, means lying. Teaching your children to be open isn’t done by deceit.

    And finally – Not everyone in Europe has lovers, but those who do generally have spouses who are aware of what is going on. It is a different situation than someone LYING. If a wife asks where her husband is, she will be told the truth. Which I doubt is something you afford to your wife. You can’t really compare the two.

    Bottom line: Orton, if you really believed most of the things you said up there, you wouldn’t be lying to your wife. Getting your sexual needs fulfilled elsewhere isn’t cruel if everyone is aware of what’s going on.

  20. Char Says:

    I’d also like to point out that it is called ABSTINENCE when you don’t have sex for a while. It is only called celibacy when you choose to NOT have sex OR get married/partnered with someone.

    I wish people would stop “confusing” the two. A celibate person will NOT choose to have sex or partner. If they did, they would be ABSTINENT.

  21. james Says:


    You are a funny person.

    A guy with no morals wants to teach his kids openness.
    A guy with no morals wants to teach others what true love and marriage life is all about.
    A guy with no morals talks about disease and the dangers of it.

    The lesson you are giving your daughters is to accept a cheater and abusive spouse, to be submissive and to be attracted to that kind of abusive man. You are distroying her life by imprinting in her mind the seeds of destruction. She will ne ver know, or it might take her years to learn why she is attracted to lying cheating men that are abusing and demeaning.
    The lesson you are giving your sons is a lesson on how to cheat, how to be a lying womanizer, and how to disrespect a woman that you chose as wife.

    Your explanation about cheating in order to keep a home together is as stupid as a thief’s explanation of his robberies with stories about poverty and living in a poor area of town.

    All your bravado and your insults are nothing but the shield behind which a coward that is afraid of losing his phisical home, his confort, hides behind.

    Like a thief, you operate under secrecy, and you are not man enough to face your wife, your children, and rreality, so you profess bravado, and cheat on your wife, contaminate the young minds of your children, and deny yourself of the opportunity to become a real man, by portraying yourself as the victim, the poor guy that is misunderstood by his wife, the guy that is subjected to “celibacy” ( as you erroneously use as terminology ), a victim of his wife’s lack of interest in sex.

    That is not what you got married for Mr. Had that been the case, you should had warned your wife that upon a few years you would had or reserve the right to find sex outside the home.

    When you laugh about the word Diseases, let me remind you that catching herpes on your side can easily spread to your entire family by use of bathroom towels, eating utensiles, etc.

    In summary, you are the classical portrayal of a coward man, that boasts and conveys an image of manly man, a happy family, while in reality you are a sad individual, whom is subjecting his wife to humilliation, cajoling his friends and family into a false image of a happy family, disrespecting your children, and cowering behind ludicrous stories about european families that supposedly cheat by agreement, only to keep your false fazade in place.

    What a coward, smells funky in here.
    And like a real coward does, blames his wife for the situation, and while he indoctrinates and destroys the lives of his loved ones in the process ( he is to coward of a man to face reality ) he heralds a preposterous message about him being the home protector, the one that requires a medal for his great efforts into maintaining his home together.

    Your kids would be better off w/o you, you are the worse thing that can happen to them.

    Yes Mr macho man, I bet you could apply your theories of home maintenance with a role reversal. Why not allowing your wife to have men on the side? I bet your wife does not want any sex with you because you are in a slob of a state.
    Perhaps your wife should start meeting with other men so she can see what she is missing out, and you should accept it, because, if your wife goes out with other men and has fun getting what she can not and will never find in you, she would be doing so “out of Love” as you say, just to keep the home together.

    If you are so sure about your theories, you should allow your wife to go out and enjoy the company of other men. Or do you think that only men can cheat, is it that?

  22. kim Says:

    james, I just love you! I love your thoughts on this subject and am happy that there is a wonderful voice of reason. Life is much happier if you just do the right thing, no matter how small the choice is to do so.

  23. james Says:


    Thanks for your kind words. I believe this issue is a matter of honesty and courage. Courage to do things the right way, courage to work things out, and courage when the time comes to accept things have no other solution but an amicable dissolution.
    No amicable dissolution could take place if there is cheating involved, and the perpetrator is found in blatant connivance.
    So the cheater is not only disrespecting his loved ones, he/she is paving the road for a divorse war and the man, if he is the cheater, is walking strait to the cleaners, in which case I do not blame the party turning on the cleaners switch .
    We accepted and in the case of men, we got on our knees to promise the best of the world to that woman we chose. Women did same by accepting the offer, and the decision was made to live together and love each other.
    If for some reason the situation stops working, and all avenues for repair have been exhausted, then it is time for an amicable dissolution, if it comes to that point.
    Cheating, we already talked about it, that is the avenue for the coward to remain in posession of phisical belongings, while avoiding reality.

  24. santhi Says:

    Please listen to the children,because I can tell you they are watching and listening and they know whats going on.

    I went through 20 years with a philandering husband who would verbally and emotionally abuse me in front of the children. when my eldest completed her uni degree. She stepped in and told me to dump her dad.

    She said many things that hurt all because I had thought my staying in the marriage would be better for the children, How wrong I was.

    Both children were so happy with the divorce. They knew about his affairs from young even though I never mentioned it when they were around.

    Today my girl refuses to speak to her dad, and my son calls him an asshole after he heard his father yelling at me in public.

    We reap what we sow. Lust or lack of responsibility , who knows –

    In our lords prayer we say ” lead us not into temptation”

  25. richard ludwig Says:

    as far as i am concerned – i sincerely and seriously hope and pray that ortons kids(and his church for that matter – if he even goes to one) knows or finds about it because this is dirty laundry that needs to be publically aired for all to know about. no better tool to keep married couples on the straight and narrow path than public embarassment and humiliation.

  26. AMY FLYNN Says:

    James say’s it all for us women & men. If my husband of 16 years cheated I would be devastated but I would still like to know and have a choice weather to stay and fix our relationship or leave because the cheater WILL be found out sooner or later.

  27. FindNewPassion.com Says:

    … I am one of a married people you know. I’m a successful businessman who has great family, two beautiful children and a great career. My marriage became sexless around fifteen years ago as my wife had no desire for sex and I finally gave up after years of begging. Being completely frustrated, five years ago I started looking through married dating sites and eventually began having an affair with a woman who was also in a sexless marriage. I was not looking for a new partner every day, neither I was interested in leaving my family or breaking somebody else. Our five-year monogamous relationship likely saved both our marriages…

  28. Skano Says:

    People in happy, fulfilling relationships don’t cheat. Keep that, rather than old fashioned words such as ‘duty’ and ‘loyalty’ as your mantra. There are probably millions of marriages out there that are, whilst not abusive, physically or emotionally unfulfilling for one or both partners. We live in a society that embraces sexual freedom and choice, where sexual innuendo and imagery is everywhere, but we still cling to the belief that being in a long term relationship somehow switches of the parts of your brain that find people other than your spouse or partner attractive.

    Monogamy is not a universal norm, and, even in societies with supposedly strict codes of sexual fidelity, there have always been practices society turns a blind eye to. There are many traditional cultures that have allowed, or even embraced and encouraged, non-monogamous relationships and sex with other partners than your spouse/main partner.

    Sexual desire is an inescapable part of our human nature, and there are thousands of people trapped in relationships where their partner is unresponsive to their sexual needs. What are you supposed to do if you still have a healthy sex drive and desire for sex which your partner does not share? Divorce them? Coerce them?

    I’m not saying we should all run out and cheat, just that maybe we should try and be a bit more understanding and a bit less self-righteous and actually think about how we treat our partners and how we respond to their sexual desire or lack of.

  29. Mary Says:

    “What are you supposed to do if you still have a healthy sex drive and desire for sex which your partner does not share? Divorce them? Coerce them?”

    The whole point of divorce is to leave an unhappy marriage, so yeah? If you can’t fathom being faithful to your spouse for whatever reason, then you should seek an honest resolution, either through counseling or divorce. Or just don’t get married in the first place. Absolutely no one said a bad thing about open relationships, and in fact several people (including Em and Lo) made it quite clear that non-monogamous relationships are fine as long as everyone involved knows what’s going on and agrees to it. The very essence of cheating is dishonesty, and that’s what makes it unquestionably wrong. There’s nothing self-righteous about condemning it because it’s an incredibly selfish and hurtful thing to do to someone. If you want to have your cake and eat it too, find a partner who you know won’t have an issue with you having sex outside of the marriage. They do exist, and they’re relatively easy to find nowadays. But trying to force your preferences on someone who insists on sexual fidelity isn’t doing them a favor, it’s being an a-hole of the first degree. Lies and secrecy do not a healthy relationship make.

  30. David Miller Says:

    Speaking as an English guy living in London I can honestly say that it is really hard to maintain a monogamous relationship for a long amount of time. I managed 12 years but then I saw many of my friends having a bit of fun and it seemed to brighten their day and I thought ‘why not?” I am not proud of my attitude but it means that I am more likely to say with my wife.
    I now have a longterm safe marital affair with a married woman I met on a business trip – it will never annoy either of our marriages.

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