A new analysis shows most of the 5.5 million profiles for women on the site were actually fake. (Photo: Corbis)
An interesting new finding has surfaced after the data hack of infidelity website Ashley Madison: Almost none of the women in the Ashley Madison database actually used the site.
According to a data analysis conducted by Gizmodo, the vast majority of the 5.5 million profiles for women on Ashley Madison were fake. Among those that were real, fewer than 10,000 responded to a message from a would-be cheating partner and fewer than 1,500 ever checked their inbox. (That’s an incredibly small number of active users when compared with the 31 million accounts belonging to men.)
It seems as though Ashley Madison created a fantasy in which millions of men thought they could cheat with women who really weren’t there or all that interested in actually engaging in infidelity.
But men aren’t the only ones who cheat — women do it, too. Data varies on how prevalent cheating is, but according to nationally representative data from the General Social Survey, sponsored by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, 12 percent of men and 7 percent of women say they have had sex outside their marriage in any given year.
So why did the few women who signed up for an Ashley Madison account barely use it? It’s likely due to the reasons why women cheat in the first place, clinical psychologist Suzana E. Flores, author of Facehooked: How Facebook Affects Our Emotions, Relationships, and Lives, tells Yahoo Health.
“Women cheat due to lack of emotional intimacy or unhappiness in their relationship,” she says. “They’re not that allured by opportunistic sex, like men are.”
Women who cheat are typically looking for attention or to reaffirm their desirability, according to Flores. “It doesn’t mean they actually want to go through with cheating; they may just want to know that they’re still desirable.” As a result, simply setting up a profile and receiving messages from men who are interested in an affair can fulfill a woman’s needs and cause her to avoid going through with cheating.
Flores says women may also be more cautious about getting caught than men — so some may have set up an Ashley Madison profile only to get nervous about being found out and never use it again.
Flores isn’t shocked by the findings, since she’s had several clients who have set up Match.com profiles during a marital separation to test the waters. “They’re not even ready to meet people,” she says. “This is just a step.”
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely the data hack will cause people to stop cheating or trying to cheat. “It’s just going to make people more savvy about how they go about it,” says Flores.
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