The economy remains at a virtual standstill and home prices continues to drop in Michigan. Moreover, more couples are discovering during these dire economic times that they cannot even afford to divorce. Consequently, as many couples have tried to stay together, one business that has heated up during the recession is the on-line affair business.
In 2001, a new web-site was launched called Ashley Madison which described itself as a "married dating site for discreet encounters." In early 2009, four months into the recession, business took off. The company found that many people were looking for a temporary way to make themselves feel better - making Ashley Madison a recession-growth company.
Many clients of the site come from Michigan, Arizona and Nevada where the housing market suffered some of the largest losses. To use the web-site, a user pays $49 for 100 credits. The credits allow users to chat with different members. Members decide how much information to share and whether to meet. Ashley Madison then deletes all correspondence from inboxes when it is over, so no evidence remains.
Ashley Madison has noted that spouses are most likely to use their site following disappointing weekends or holidays that do not go well. Because of this, the site generally tracks usage spikes on Monday mornings and after holidays such as Valentine's Day, Father's Day and Mother's Day. Given the success of Ashley Madison, several other web-sites have launched in the last few years that also target married spouses.
The emotional upheaval that comes along with the divorce process can explain some of the demand for these sites. However, even though these new web-sites make having an affair easier, the consequences can still be just as devastating - further supporting the need for divorce in many situations.