Most people only know Ashley Madison as the dating website for cheaters, but our Ashley Madison review seeks to go beyond the labels and get to the heart of what this dating network has to offer single and not-so-single daters.
Since its launch in 2002, Ashley Madison has attracted over 60 million members, and the dating website and app currently leads to over 1 million affairs every month.
Here’s a rundown of the features, prices, and perks of an Ashley Madison account, and you can scroll down to find our reviews of other popular dating sites in case Ashley Madison isn’t enough to satisfy your online dating appetite.
Our Ashley Madison Rating: 4.2/5
Ashley Madison doesn’t judge people based on their marital status. This dating platform offers an open-ended dating space where people can privately explore their options.
Throughout its 20-year history, Ashley Madison has seen a fair amount of scandal and controversy. In 2015, a hacker group called Impact targeted the affairs site and stole its private user data. When Ashley Madison’s parent company Avid Life Media refused its ransom demands, the hackers exposed the private details of 30 million people. This data dump included names, email address, and credit card numbers.
Since then, Ashley Madison has taken extra care to protect its members from a cyber attack or data breach, and we commend the team for learning from past mistakes and continuing to move forward.
- A uniquely open-minded dating network
- Privacy-conscious features
- Over 1.4 million matches per month
Ashley Madison recognizes that no one is perfect and infidelity happens. Many Ashley Madison reviews condemn the site for facilitating extramarital affairs, but, despite the criticism, over 60 million people have created an account and used its under-the-radar services to satisfy their curiosity and fulfill their desires.
Ashley Madison Costs Women $0 Every Month
If you’re a woman on Ashley Madison, you have the run of the dating app and site, and you never have to pay a cent for any of the messaging and matching features. Congratulations on hitting the gender lottery.
Men can create a profile and view other member’s profiles for free on Ashley Madison, but he has to pay to send and receive messages. Ashley Madison uses a pay-as-you-go credit system rather than the traditional monthly subscription plan. That means men buy credits and use them to start conversations and reply to incoming messages.
A bundle of 100 credits costs $49, a bundle of 500 credits costs $149, and a bundle of 1,000 credits costs $249. The Elite 1,000 credit package is the most expensive upfront, but it offers the lowest price point per credit (25 cents per credit), gives users the ability to start over 111 conversations, and includes a 30-day profile boost.
Ashley Madison will automatically replenish a member’s credit bank when it hits 0 unless men go into their Settings and turn the auto-renewal feature off.
Complete a Profile, Upload Photos, and Then Start Browsing
The Ashley Madison registration process takes less than 10 minutes (or as long as you need to come up with a good username, greeting, and bio), and includes the bare minimum needed to create a solid match.
Ashley Madison requires users to fill in their ZIP code, relationship status, date of birth, height, weight, body type, and ethnicity. You’ll also need to set your limits — meaning how far you’re willing to go with a partner — and the options provided include cybersexting, short-term dating, and long-term affairs. If you’re undecided, you can simply put down “Not Sure.”
When you upload a profile picture on Ashley Madison, you can choose to blur, block, or mask your face. You can also create Secret Photo Albums with raunchier photos that you can share at your discretion.
Members can describe who they are and what they want in the About Me section. It’s pretty open-ended, but most people keep things pretty brief (three sentences or less) and avoid oversharing. A major faux pas on Ashley Madison is talking too much about marriage problems or sexual frustrations. Keep in mind that your dates want to know about you, not your spouse.
Finally, women have the option to choose a Quick Reply message that will automatically be sent to every Ashley Madison user who likes her profile. The dating service has a pre-written message that reads “If you are really interested please send a message and photos,” but members can also use their own flirty imaginations and write something else to their online crushes.
Find Matches on Your Own & Receive Suggestions Every Day
Ashley Madison streamlines the online dating experience, so it doesn’t take much to create a romantic connection.
An Ashley Madison user can adjust search filters by age range, location, and relationship status, and they can also search the database by last login (24 hours, 48 hours, anytime), new members, and profiles with public or private photos.
You do not need to create a mutual match to send messages or request access to a private photo album on Ashley Madison.
If you click the Contact Potential Matches for Me option upon sign-up, Ashley Madison will be more proactive with its matchmaking and actually send flirty messages on your behalf to anyone who meets your match standards. This could be a good way for shy people to get into conversations and break the ice without putting in a lot of effort.
Ashley Madison Has 5.7 Million Monthly Users
Over the last 20 years, Ashley Madison has added over 60 million members to its database. Of course, many of those are now inactive accounts that have been hidden from the Discover section.
The number of monthly active users (5.7 million) and new signups (22,000) will give you a better idea about the real-time activity and popularity of this affair dating site.
Before the Ashley Madison hack, the site and app saw over 30,000 signups a day. In 2015, membership numbers briefly skyrocketed as Ashley Madison made the news because of Impact’s ransom note and data dump, and then it plummeted to reflect the lack of trust people had in the brand.
The Ashley Madison team says they are working their way back up to that level and currently onboard 22,000 new members each day.
Ashley Madison is totally free for women, so it tends to have more female than male members. In 2017, Ashley Madison reported that it has 1.13 active female accounts for every 1 paid male account.
Every week, Ashley Madison welcomes more than 150,000 people into its network and facilitates over 1 million infidelity matches.
16 Best Ashley Madison Alternatives
A cheating spouse may prefer the discreet services of Ashley Madison, but infidelity isn’t the goal of everyone in the dating scene. Sometimes married people use dating sites and apps as a way to meet new friends, distract themselves from their everyday routines, and maybe release a little flirtatious energy.
If you just want to keep your options open or dip a toe into the single dating pool, then you may want to give the following popular dating sites and apps a try.
Best Overall Ashley Madison Alternatives
The Ashley Madison hack of 2015 shook a lot of people’s confidence in the affair dating website, and it’s reasonable to want a dating service with a better reputation and less scandalous history. For your convenience, we’ve ranked some of the most trustworthy dating platforms where men and women can mingle freely.
- Match is the world's longest running dating site
- The Discover section has search filters by interests, looks, lifestyle, and more
- Match is available in 50 countries and 15 languages
Match has been one of the top dating services in the world for nearly three decades now. It may not market itself as a dating site for hookups or extramarital affairs, but that sort of thing has undeniably gone on here.
The Match user base includes over 15 million monthly active members, and they come to this dating website and app with all sorts of intentions. About 75% of users are over 30 years old, so they tend not to play games or beat around the bush when flirting with a new person.
- Over 2 million monthly users
- Premium members receive 20 wildcard matches a day
- Search features include age, height, education, ethnicity, and lifestyle habits
EliteSingles is a high-end and no-nonsense dating service designed to satisfy busy professionals in search of a partner on their same level. Over 80% of members have graduated from college, and the majority of them have high-earning careers.
As you can see from our review, this premium dating site isn’t for everybody. EliteSingles requires members to sign up for a paid subscription plan if they want to view photos or exchange emails, and it will flag anyone behaving inappropriately and making users feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
- Send messages to premium members for free
- Over 3 million messages sent a day
- Premium perks include photo verification and sending virtual gifts
Zoosk is a popular dating website and app with over 40 million members to its name. The social network has a lot of matching and chatting options, including the ability to use tokens to purchase virtual gifts.
Once you’ve finished setting up your Zoosk profile, you can start viewing people’s profiles and sending messages to certain members. Not all messaging on Zoosk is free, but the site and app unlock enough conversation windows to give users a free sample — and have them hankering for more.
- Over 2 million people have found love here
- Users can filter their match recommendations by age or city
- Compatibility Quiz identifies common interests, lifestyles, and goals
Since its launch in 2000, eharmony has focused on building strong relationships based on mutual compatibility. It may not seem like an obvious spot for married individuals to pick up a date, but its smart matching system and video chat features can lead to some great romances.
The eharmony match algorithm takes the lead and provides compatibility ratings based on a psychological assessment, so you don’t have to worry about picking the right partner. To date, eharmony has inspired over 2 million relationships in the U.S., and it could help you find that loving feeling again.
- One of the largest Black singles networks in existence
- Straightforward search and matching features
- Use Tokens to appear higher in search results
BlackPeopleMeet boasts having the largest Black dating network in North America. The dating site and app have created a diverse dating pool where it’s easy to find dark-skinned dates that meet your standards.
All it takes is a valid email address to join the BPM network and start viewing other people’s profiles. However, if you want to send a message, you’ll need an updated account with premium features.
“I found someone very special on this site, and we are pursuing a relationship,” said a BPM user in a testimonial. “We would never have met, if it was not for BPM.”
- Free, unlimited communication for everyone
- Singles can swipe or search for a compatible date
- Over 91 million connections every year
All communication is free on OkCupid, and that’s why millions of online daters choose to mingle and match on this dating site and app.
OkCupid provides a dynamic dating profile, smart match questions, and tons of search filters to help get something going, and you don’t have to wait for your online crush to like your profile to send a greeting.
The OkCupid platform has 22 gender options and 12 orientation options, so it’s a great space for exploring your sexuality and going outside the box of cis straight monogamy.
- Free registration, searches, and messaging
- The Chemistry Test creates a compatibility framework
- Over 1 billion messages sent per month
Plenty of Fish is a free dating platform with free communication, so nothing stands between you and a hot date. Over 150 million people have joined the POF community, and members engage in 3 million conversations a week.
Free dating sites like Plenty of Fish tend to attract a lot of people, and all of them have different agendas. Some are just looking for a quick chat and confidence booster. Others are hoping to fall in love and get in a serious relationship. And others may have more secret motives and desires in mind.
The Plenty of Fish team automatically hides inactive accounts to make sure singles aren’t messaging a fake profile or dead end.
- A feminist dating app puts singles on equal footing
- 60% of Bumble matches turn into dates
- Bumble Bizz and Bumble BFF spark non-romantic connections
Bumble is a feminist dating app for women who know what they want and aren’t hesitant to make the first move. In 2014, Bumble made a splash with its women-first mentality, and it now has over 100 million users worldwide.
When a male user matches with a woman, he has to wait for her to send the first message (she only has 24 hours to do so) before he can engage in a conversation with her. Bumble has upended gender stereotypes in the online dating world by empowering women to take the lead, and that can set relationships on equal footing from the beginning.
Best Ashley Madison Alternatives for LGBT
Ashley Madison offers cheating options for gay and lesbian individuals, but it doesn’t have trans-friendly or non-binary options available just yet. Bisexual singles will have to create two separate accounts on Ashley Madison if they want to pursue men and women there. Or they could join the following LGBTQ+ dating platforms and enjoy a rainbow of dating options.
- One of the largest gay hookup sites in the world
- Search filters for age, location, physical attributes, and more
- Available in 12 languages and counting
As a gay hookup site, MenNation can help men come out of their shells and enjoy sexual encounters online and offline.
MenNation welcomes single men and gay couples to an erotic playground where they don’t have to play coy or hide their deepest desires. Over 72,000 men mingle on this adult dating platform every day, and they’re all looking for one thing: sex.
- Free membership includes viewing profiles and sending likes
- Exchange revealing photos and videos privately online
- Simple search filters by interests and appearance
Since the 1990s, LesbianPersonals has maintained a female-friendly hookup site for adults who want to have no-strings-attached sex with women.
LesbianPersonals has sign-up options for lesbian women, lesbian couples, straight couples, and groups. It does not require users to submit their real names or upload a profile photo. However, if you want to exchange messages, share private photos, and even get in a video chat, you’ll need to upgrade to a premium account.
- A quirky and unapologetic womxn-only dating community
- Queer events get users connecting IRL
- The constantly updated Feed facilitates social networking
HER is a social dating app where real women mingle with one another. All its female profiles have been verified as authentic, and the moderators are serious about removing fake profiles and creeps.
Single men and married people are not welcome in this LBTQ+ space. It was created to help single women escape the chauvinism of the mainstream dating scene and encounter local ladies who share similar interests. HER offers a queer calendar and social media newsfeed to help lesbian, bisexual, trans, and queer women get to know one another.
- Social networking for gay, bi, trans, and queer men
- Location-based matches spark instant chemistry
- Grindr Equality advocates for LGBTQ+ interests on the global stage
Grindr is widely recognized as the most popular dating app for gay and bisexual men. It launched in 2009 as one of the first apps to use location data to spark real-time connections, and guys have been using it to hook up ever since.
Every male member on Grindr has access to free swiping and chatting tools, but he’ll have to upgrade to Grindr Xtra to get an ad-free experience, more search filters, read receipts, a discreet app icon, and a PIN to lock the app.
Grindr has over 27 million users all around the world, so you’ll never run out of opportunities to match, chat, and flirt your way into a gay romance.
Best Ashley Madison Alternatives for Hookups
Whether you’re married or single, sometimes you just need to get laid without a lot of complicated feelings involved. That’s what a no-strings-attached hookup site is for. Sexually active individuals can join the following sex-positive platforms to flirt with strangers who are willing to get down and dirty.
- Sexually active adults in 10 countries
- Browse the Like Gallery for hot singles
- Stimulate conversation in intimate private messages
It doesn’t cost anything to set up your BeNaughty account, add a profile picture, and start messaging other users. BeNaughty has a live chatting system that is secure and open to everyone, and it even offers prewritten flirts that can be sent en masse to all the users who fit specific search criteria.
- Among the largest online sex and swinger communities
- Completely free no-obligation registration
- Live chat rooms and discussion forums open 24/7
Adult Friend Finder has more than 100 million users in its database, so it’s a great place to seek a sexual partner. Things move pretty fast in the AFF community, so an erotic chat could turn into an extramarital affair in the time it takes to say, “your place or mine?”
You can read our Adult Friend Finder review to find out more about how the hookup site works and what type of people find success there.
- Open to casual daters in the U.S. and abroad
- Free members can browse profiles and watch sexy videos
- Chat anonymously in the forum or private messages
FriendFinder-X is a hookup site powered by local connections and fast-paced flirtations. Singles and couples are welcome to explore this dynamic dating scene in search of no-strings attached sex.
Some users are quick to call FriendFinder-X a scam because of its pay-to-play policy, but membership fees can actually deter scammers seeking easy targets.
If you’re serious about pursuing an extramarital affair, threesome, or other sexual exploits, then becoming a paid member of FriendFinder-X can be a helpful way to bring more local date prospects within your reach.
- Over 70 million registered users
- Naked photos, videos, and private messaging available
- Send a Flirtcast to get in touch with all potential matches
Last but not least, Flirt.com can offer an open-ended and X-rated flirting zone for anyone looking to get laid. Adults don’t need to post their real names or marital status to browse this hookup site, and its anonymous atmosphere appeals to a married man or woman hoping for a discreet affair.
Only members with valid emails and profile photos can send messages on Flirt.com, but they can do so for free. The hookup site doesn’t hold sex-driven individuals back in that regard. There is no paywall or mutual matching to worry about. All communication is free and accessible to everyone.
What is Ashley Madison?
Ashley Madison is a dating site where men and women can seek an extramarital affair. Its membership base includes singles as well as married individuals, and it offers privacy features to facilitate anonymous dating.
How Does Ashley Madison Work?
Our Ashley Madison review already touched on how the dating profile setup and matchmaking process works, but newcomers to online dating may need more direct, step-by-step directions for finding success on Ashley Madison, so here goes:
First, you’ll create your dating profile. You’ll need to provide a valid email address and come up with a username, but it’s not necessary to upload a photo on a free account. However, Ashley Madison members with a profile photo (even if it’s blurred or masked) receive 400% more views.
Once you’ve completed the Ashley Madison sign-up process and verified your email, you can start viewing people’s profiles and sending winks to any person you like. Women enjoy unlimited free communication on Ashley Madison, but men will have to purchase credits to send messages on the affair dating site. There may also be a mobile access fee for users who buy credits through the app.
Ashley Madison automatically renews subscriptions that are about to expire and automatically replenishes your credit bank when it hits zero, so be sure to go into your settings to turn off these features before your credit card gets charged.
How Long Has Ashley Madison Been Around?
Darren J. Morgenstern founded Ashley Madison in 2002 as a Canadian dating service for having affairs. It gets its name from two of the most popular first names for women in North America.
In 2016, a year after its massive security breach, Ashley Madison’s parent company Avid Life Media rebranded to Ruby Corp and appointed a new CEO.
What Sites are Similar to Ashley Madison?
We’ve listed quite a few alternatives to Ashley Madison, but most of these sites and apps are geared toward singles seeking romance and love, so they may not be the most efficient route if you want to be honest about your relationship status and solicit an affair.
Apps for cheaters will provide more clandestine features to keep your dating adventures out of the public eye. For instance, the Secret app only asks users to provide a photo of themselves for their profile, and they can seek casual daters without exchanging names or contact information.
Is Ashley Madison Safe?
The infamous Ashley Madison breach of security in 2015 has made many married people wonder if they trust their emails, credit card numbers, and private details to the affair dating site. However, that disastrous hack has actually motivated Ashley Madison employees to add more security measures to the dating service.
Today, Ashley Madison has robust encryption standards in place to deter a cyber attack and prevent leaked data from appearing on the dark web.
Ashley Madison has worked hard to regain the trust of its users. The team hired cybersecurity experts to purge the membership base of any fake profile, scammer, or fembot lurking around, and its two-factor authentication system ensures all new users are real people.
“We represent how a company can come back from what could be seen as catastrophic circumstances,” Chief Strategy Officer Paul Keable said in a 2019 interview. “We knew we needed to fix the internal infrastructure. [We] hired a new security team, a new CISO who looked at everything from the ground up.”
Can Couples Join Ashley Madison?
No, Ashley Madison is not a dating site for couples. It doesn’t have features for polyamorous dating, unicorn hunting, or any other type of couples dating. The Ashley Madison profile only has options for a man or a woman seeking a man or a woman. As far as relationship status goes, you can identify as single or attached, or you can leave it blank and add a little mystery to your profile.
What Counts as Cheating?
Some people act like cheating is a black-and-white issue, but in reality, married individuals can find there is a lot of gray area. If you develop feelings for a friend, but your relationship is platonic, does that count as cheating? Some may say it’s emotional cheating, and others may say you can think whatever you want as long as you don’t act on those emotions.
In a member survey, 29% of Ashley Madison users agreed that creating a dating profile counts as cheating, and 46% said that sending naked photos to another person would constitute cheating.
Different marriages have different rules. A spouse may want a partner to cut off contact with exes or stop watching porn to signify their commitment to the relationship. Couples need to talk things out to figure out where they draw the line.
Ashley Madison Eases People Into the Online Dating Scene
As you can tell, we did a lot of research to make sure this Ashley Madison review includes everything you could possibly need to know as you consider reentering the modern dating scene.
This discreet affair site has helped millions of men and women spice up their love lives, but it’s not the only game in town. We’ve ranked dozens of popular dating sites and apps that can offer low-key dating opportunities and prove that sometimes cheaters do prosper.
In addition to joining Ashley Madison, married individuals should feel free to create multiple dating profiles so they have the best odds of meeting someone special.