Ashley Madison – Full Review

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Whether you have made up your mind or are just amazed that stuff like this exists and can’t help a certain titillation at the idea – if you want to dip your feet into the world of secret affairs online, the Ashley Madison Agency stands out among the pack of similar sites for several reasons.

  1. Members
  2. Search
  3. Profile
  4. Messaging
  5. Other Features
  6. Costs

Members: 5/5

The most important aspect for any community site – be it eBay, Facebook or a dating website – is the number of people on it. You want members, lots of ‘em, the more the merrier. And not just anywhere, but within driving distance. Because what good does it do to you if Mr. Classy Hunk turns out living in Chihuahua, Mexico?

It is here where Ashley Madison truly shines. When I played with the site on a Tuesday afternoon, I found more than 200 guys who had logged in within the last day, in each of the major cities (San Francisco, Kansas City, New York, Miami) and in each of the age groups I looked at (men in their 20s, 30s, 40s)! To test the limits of the site, I tried the small town of Helena, MT (population 26,000) and even there, Ashley Madison had one guy logging in THAT DAY in his 20s (aptly named “wastedyouth”), 7 in their 30s, and 3 men in their 40s. There were several dozen men looking for an affair total in each age group.

Ok, so quantity is great, what about quality? Let’s face it, no dating site is just a stud collection straight out of the Celebs & Style section in Cosmopolitan. But with the large number and variety of gents to browse you will easily find your match. Or he will find you. In fact, I found most men on the site respectful and pleasant, and the douchebag rate noticeably lower than on other dating sites. The reason is that on Ashley Madison the guys are in the same boat as you, understand your situation and your privacy requirements and share the same risks.

Search: 3.5/5

With more guys available than at any Superbowl party, heck, more than at the stadium, how do you find your perfect playmate? Good search tools! The simple quick-search bar is always ready for you: Ashley Madison search bar But you want to go to the Advanced Search screen. Besides the regular criteria (age, height, weight, ethnicity etc.), you can limit your search to only profiles with pictures, only new members (registered within 10 days) or – what I find the most useful – to men who are online right now or were active within the last few days. After all why would you want to waste your time messaging someone who is not using the site anymore?

A keyword option where you can enter free text matches anything in the profile descriptions and you can look up members by user name where you will get back everyone whose screen name contains the search term.

The result list is one of the few places that have room to improve. It shows some key data at one glance but why would you care about the cryptic profile number of all things? It would make more sense to put e.g. race there instead. Recently, Ashley Madison added the option to have Spanish profiles and now a big button announcing the profile language sits between the results and spaces them out unnecessarily. A denser design would be better and since you’re likely using the site in only one language anyway, I doubt the value of that button.

More annoying is Ashley Madison’s layout where the top and bottom parts are essentially two separate web pages squished into one. This screws up tabbed browsing, you can’t use the Back button on your browser reliably and on top of that, the right-click menu is disabled. For example you may go to page 3 of your search results, click through to a guy’s profile and when you click Back, you’re suddenly on page 1 of the results again.

Another issue is that you cannot change the order in which search results are listed. In fact, doing the same search twice can bring the same results in a different order and it’s not clear what they’re sorted by to begin with. The maximum number of results shown for any search is 200.

Profile: 5/5

Now that you checked out the goodies, it’s time to complete your own profile. Many of Ashley Madison’s features are uniquely geared towards people who want to have an affair and nowhere can you see this better than in the profile design. Where other sites just give you an “About Me” field, on Ashley Madison you get these sections:

  • Preferences and encounters I am open to
  • What really turns me on
  • What I am looking for

In each section you can check off a number of pre-selected items, (“Bubble Bath for 2″ anyone?), which makes setting up your profile easy if your writer’s block is kicking in again. But of course you can also pen your own masterpiece.

You can add multiple pictures to your profile, which people can click through, slide-show style. Only one will show at a time. In addition you also have a private showcase that nobody can see until you send them a key. You can post some more reveling images there and while main profile pictures cannot be enlarged, those private photos show in full size when clicked on. You’ll find that many people post only in that private showcase and leave the public picture blank for privacy. Ashley Madison personal limits settingsAfter all, we all want to have an affair and not get caught.

If you are worried about that, you can use another great example of affair-specific features: Personal Limits. They allow you to restrict your presence on the site to a level you feel comfortable with. Want to tickle your fantasy but not really hookup with a married man? No problem, just set your profile to “Cyber Affair / Erotic Chat”.

Messaging: 4/5

To that end, there is an instant messenger on top, which lets you have multiple private chats at the same time. It’s great to connect with someone instantly or exchange some racy lines, and – who knows? – you may get your fill just from some salacious virtual adultery! On the other hand, you will most likely be inundated with guys requesting a chat as soon as you sign up. It can be distracting when you’re just on the prowl through the profiles, but you can easily turn it off.

You have the regular winks, of course, as on any dating site. Luckily, they are relegated to their own tab in the messaging system because if you are an even half-attractive woman, your inbox will already be overflowing with other messages within hours. Ashley Madison inbox filtering for custom messagesTurns out most of them are just notifications that some dude added you to his fa­vor­ites, sent you a private pic­ture key or requests yours. The fil­tering system comes in very handy here and will quickly be­come your fa­vor­ite tool. Check for Custom Messages and Pri­or­ity Mail, because those are the ones where he actually took the time to write you a personal note.

When writing and reading email, you have access to the guy’s key profile data right on the message screen as well as a link to his full profile, so you never forget which one of your dozens admirers you’re talking with. Very useful here is also the option to roll out the entire message history with that fellow, so it’s easy to refer to what was said or asked before.

An interesting option is to send collect messages. This makes sense with Ashley Madison’s fee structure, and allows you to email men without paying anything. Keep in mind though that he will have to pay to read your message, so make sure he’s a good match you would really like to get in touch with and say something meaningful.

The downgrade here comes from the same issues as with the search results: right-click disabled, cannot reliably work with multiple emails in separate tabs, back button issues. Also Ashley Madison stores mail for only 21 days, then they get auto-deleted. At least, you can manually save your best email gems for posterity in a special folder.

Other Features: 4.5/5

A unique Ashley Madison feature is the member feedback system.
Ashley Madison Member Feedback
Once you had contact with somebody, you can dish out those smiley points. And don’t worry, nobody can mark you down, no negative feedback here. Think about it, this really only makes sense on an affair website where people accept the idea that you can have multiple flings. On AM though, it can help you judge a guy’s personality and sincerity.

Very interesting also is the Traveling Man. What is the best time to have an affair without much risk of getting caught or long-term drama? When you’re on the road, of course! Yeah, those darn long business partner meetings far away… Much more fun when there’s a partner for a different kind of business! The Traveling Man feature allows to select a city outside of one’s own zip code and some criteria about who you want to meet and Ashley Madison will let you send a free custom priority message to up to 40 people.

Great idea, but there’s a downside: The feature is called Traveling MAN for a reason, it’s currently not available to women. Bummer! Can the otherwise so open-minded folks at Ashley Madison not envision traveling women? I hear a female version is in the works though and until then, you can at least take advantage of it from the other side. The Traveling Man messages are marked in your inbox and if you prefer short-term flings without long attachment, hook up with a business guy coming to town.

You can send virtual gifts to interesting men. There are two free options (Want to hint at your skilled tongue play? Send a cherry with a knotted stem!) and if you feel more generous, send a golden key to your “room” for 5 credits. I believe men have different options as I received roses and teddy bears. Those gifts arrive as a simple picture without any further function. Gimmicky perhaps, but still kinda neat.

Costs and Payments: 5/5

There’s no such thing as a free lunch and someone’s gotta pony up to make Ashley Madison happen. But how it happens is probably the biggest difference to other sites. There is no membership fee here, instead everything is based on credits. No monthly commitment, no automatic re-billing, unused credits never expire – much better suited for a website where you occasionally go to have an affair than for a regular dating site.

As free guest member you can browse full profiles, send winks, read and reply to messages, and respond to chat invitations. What matters is who makes first contact. The first person to send a custom email or initiate an IM session has to pay in credits, thereafter all further communication with that member is free. Here are costs in credits:

First email message 5
Initiate chat, 30 min 30
Initiate chat, 1 hr 50
Virtual gifts 5-50

Accepting collect messages costs the same as directly sent ones, e.g. if you send a collect invitation to a chat session and the guy accepts, he’ll pay at least 30 credits for it.

To load up, Ashley Madison offers different bundles and I calculated what that means for a first email contact :

Credits Price Per contact Notes
1000 $249 $1.25 With “Affair Guarantee”
500 $149 $1.49
200 $79 $1.98 Follow-up purchases only
100 $49 $2.45 Introductory, only for new members

The affair guarantee will refund your money if you don’t find anyone within three months – yeah, like that’s gonna happen to a fun fearless female like you! ;-)

Payments can be made by credit card with discreet billing (won’t say Ashley Madison), by electronic check directly from a bank account or even via trusty old Mr. Postman.

But should you pay at all? Think about it this way: As an attractive woman, you’ll probably get lots of messages to which you can respond for free. But it’s the men who choose you first in this case and Mr. Hot-And-Charming may or may not be among them. Sure, you could send collect messages or winks, hoping that he will pay for the first contact, but that could make you look like you’re digging for a sugar daddy. But if you buy a couple of credits, the power shifts to you to choose whoever YOU want without feeling indebted to anybody.

Tagged : Affair, Ashley Madison, Review, Website

15 Responses to “Ashley Madison – Full Review”

  1. ErikaS says:

    Thanks for the detailed review!
    I’m kinda torn about the whole thing but I think I’ll give it a try. Don’t tell anybody! ;-)

  2. Mamie Cocco says:

    You bring up some good points…I’m curious to know what you would recommend in my situation. I suspect my husband could be having an affair, but I don’t have evidence. It’s more like I have a “gut feeling.” Do you think I should see about hiring a private investigator? Or should I confront him with my suspicions?

    • Michelle says:

      Speaking with him openly is better than trying to be sneaky yourself by hiring someone to secretly follow him. Think about what the result would be. So what if the detective gives you proof, what are you going to do next? At that point it’ll be all confrontational. Better to try and work things out earlier. You may even be able to get some sort of “arrangement” with your husband. Worked for me. I think I’ll do a post about that topic some time soon.

  3. Pat C says:

    Everytime I try to make an account here i get an error that the site is down? What am i doing wrong?

    • Michelle says:

      Here? You mean on L’Affaire.info? You don’t need an account here. If you did see a message that my site was down, please tell me more about what you did.

      If you mean on Ashley Madison, just follow this link, which will take you directly to their sign-up page and fill in your info. I just tried it, it should work fine.

  4. [...] location. So if you’re planning a trip somewhere, you’re truly out of luck – no Traveling Man here! With all the many other search options, I can’t believe they left this [...]

  5. [...] next, as described in my full Ashley Madison review, I use the filter to whittle that deluge of showcase keys down to something more meaningful. This [...]

  6. [...] Should the things described here not make any sense to you, simply sign up at Ashley Madison and see for yourself or read the full review. [...]

  7. Cosworth Long Block says:

    Nice work here

  8. SimonSays says:

    Ashley Madison is quite obviously fake. I’ve joined this and other married dating sites. It is obvious that most if not all of the ‘ladies’ on Ashley Madison are computer generated and fake. They behave unlike women normally do on dating sites, magically choosing to proactively message you when you’ve just joined and at other key points in your payment cycle, tempting you to buy further credits to carry on conversations. In this regard Ashley Madison is basically exactly the same as a Premium rate sex chat line in that you’re not speaking to a genuine women, but simply someone engaged in tactics to keep you spending. They should be sued for false representation.

    • New Me says:

      AM is absolutely real, and it works. I just wish that women would take the time to write something in their profile rather that just checking boxes. I guess they don’t feel that they have to when they’re getting hundreds of messages a day. BUT, it makes it very difficult to compose a thoughtful first message when there is nothing in their profile to go on except their height, weight, race and a very generic statement of what they are looking for.

    • billy bob says:

      It is absolutely not fake. I have met 3 or 4 people on this site. Agree with the other person though…it is really hard to communicate with women that don’t put down anything.

      Also, there are lots of fakes and lots of flakes. You just have to invest the time. About 1 out of 50 respond. But it does work – I can tell you from experience.

  9. It's not all fake says:

    No not every woman on AM is fake….some may be but not all….I am an 18 year old married woman who has already had an affair with a single man I met on AM….if you think all the women on there are fake, you’re wrong.

  10. Rex MMC says:

    I found that Ashley Madison is inundated with posers, fakes, wannabes, and possibly a few Ashley Madison employees. Of course there are a few real women on the site who actually want to experience a thrill outside of their marriage, or just want someone to make them feel pretty. For those people, Craigs List would be more beneficial. For all of the single women on Ashley Madison trying to find a guy; I suggest Match.com. Ashley Madison is very expensive to use and preys on human vulnerabilities and susceptibilities to secure the next purchase of credits. Whether playing alone, or with my wife, we have found that AFF is far more cost effective, the people on AFF are real, the comments from their encounters are also real, not just nebulous numbers at the bottom of a profile.

    OH, Sorry, there’s another category that I was surprised to find there. Guys for Guys.

    My recommendation – take your play and money somewhere else.

    Ashley Madison user name: Concupiscent_male

  11. Can you pinpoint when a member joined AM by their profile #? My fiance swears he joined a few months ago when we were having some difficulty, but I have very serious doubts as I found numbers in his phone from women on this site that weren’t there 5 weeks ago. He also swears he never met any of them b/c they are “crazy bitches”….I find it laughable that he would go out of his was to lie so horribly that it only confirms his infidelities. I am so torn b/c he is truly the love of my life, but I no longer have one shred of trust or respect left in him. HE wants to do anything to make it work, and I can only think….how long will it be until he does something like this again? Any help would be greatly appreciated….I just wan to know if he was being honest and we have some ground to stand on, or if I should just give the ring back and change the locks?

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