Coffee Shops Are The Most Popular First Affair Date Location, New Ashley Madison Survey Finds, And Here's What We Can Learn From Cheating Websites

According to a survey of over 100,000 members on extra-marital dating site AshleyMadison.com, coffee shops are the number one place for a first meeting when having an affair. Coffee shops were voted as the go-to for 31 percent of users, followed by cafes (are they different?) with 20 percent of the votes. Next came restaurants/bars at 18 percent, followed by parks at 16 percent. Hotels came in at 11 percent — I'm guessing those are more popular on dates two, three and four. Lastly, 4 percent voted museums and art galleries to take their affair on a first date.

Noel Biderman, CEO and Founder of AshleyMadison.com said that the results weren't that surprising as "many people take afternoon coffee breaks at work and this can be a great opportunity to meet up with a lover at an unassuming location".

But are coffee shops as safe they seem, considering the risk of running into coworkers near the office? "There's a built in plausible deniability. There are two coffee shops where I work, if I see someone I know in there I don't think 'Oh, look— they're planning a tryst,'" Biderman told Bustle. Instead it's an easily justifiable place to be, and he points out you only need to pick a coffee shop a few blocks away from work for the chances of running into someone to plummet.

How The Internet Is Changing The Way Women Cheat

It seems as though more and more people are moving away from workplace affairs, and Biderman thinks that's partially due to women's more active role in affairs. He has often said that the internet changing the way women have affairs is behind Ashley Madison's success and claims the career women is "the centerpiece of the modern affair." He spoke to me about the modern "typical female cheater...who's spent 10 years building a career... she's not going put her marriage and her job at risk, no, she's going to try to mitigate that risk." That's where AshleyMadison.com comes in.

Interested in his take on female-driven affairs, I asked if he thought this change in female participation was down to a change in women's wants or if the internet facilitated a desire that had always been there, and he puts it down to "society's migration patterns." Referring to things like scarlet letters, the more recent taboo of premarital sex, and affairs leading to women loosing custody, Biderman points out:

"Society has always overly punished female infidelity."

But that's starting to change with custody laws treating male and female fidelity as equal, women being able to date around in college and see they can win multiple partners, and even the trend of settling down later. Plus, "the giant jump in female economic success which comes with greater confidence — should their marriage dissolve they can take care of themselves, they can take care of their family." Does all of this point to a "perfect storm" that allows women to act on their promiscuous influences as much as men? He points to the proportion of male and female users in moderns cities — "Tokoyo, Toronoto, Manhattan, the Sydneys of the world, you find our user ratio is very close to one to one." Which makes sense, it does take two to tango.

What We Can Learn From The Study Of Infidelity

While I'm not convinced by his assertions that a website that facilitates affairs is good for marriages, I do find its potential as a data resource fascinating, and Biderman is relentlessly optimistic.

"The study of infidelity is in its infancy," he emphasizes. He compares the data he has available to a recent "poorly done study" of infidelity done by the University of Connecticut that focused only 18-32 year olds. With the tens of millions of users in dozens of countries, I have to agree that his statistics are a potential goldmine. And that's one of the reasons he continues to publish information: "We publish to rectify a lot of bad research, to generate some better understanding... and for our own edification".

It's an interesting opportunity to study what's actually happening now, especially as we become more and more aware of the prevalence of infidelity. It's so long been a murky, unexplored area. I don't think the fact that we find it morally distasteful shouldn't prevent us from learning more about why and how it's happening— there's a potential for a lot of insight. As it's already there, maybe Ashley Madison can help.

Images: Leo Hidalgo/Flickr; Tumblr; Imgur