This guy is helping Montrealers cheat

Which Montreal neighbourhood is home to the most adulterers? Noel Biderman, the founder of, a site for would-be cheaters, told us.

Noel Biderman

Noel Biderman is the CEO of, a dating website marketed to couples already in a relationship — in other words, people looking to cheat. The site, which was launched in 2001 and takes its moniker from the two most popular baby girl names of the time (since it originally targeted women), now boasts over 18 million members and is growing at a dizzying rate of 25,000 users daily. Its slogan, fittingly, is “Life is short. Have an affair.” YOLO indeed.

Biderman — who has been married for 10 years, has two children and claims to have never cheated — was in town last week to launch a French platform for Ashley Madison, specifically geared to the Quebec market. Apparently Quebecers are very particular about cheating and want to do it “en français.” Still, the site already counts 111,873 members in Montreal, 35.23 per cent of whom are women (average age 35) and 64.77 per cent of whom are men (average age 41). You know, just to get specific.

I interviewed Biderman in his Old Montreal hotel room on Thursday and decided to make an awkward sexual advance he apparently could not refuse.

Anne-Darla Lucia D.: The obvious question — why Montreal? Why are you gracing us with your presence?
Noel Biderman: We launched in Montreal years ago, but we never launched in French. We always held back because we did not have a dual-language option. We felt like that would be offensive to some people, so we’ve actually been waiting 10 years to do this launch. We have hundreds of thousands of members in Quebec. We just did not have a full presence. Now that we do, we are officially here.

AD: You’re creating a French platform adapted to the Quebec market. What is the Quebec market?
NB: This market has played out like so many other markets around the world. Infidelity is a universal behaviour. We have seen a similar gender divide here — about 36 per cent of the service is women, versus a slight majority in men. It’s very age-sensitive, and the wealthier suburbs in Montreal tend to be the most populated for our service. So the script is playing out just like it does in Australia, South Africa or Brazil.

AD: What are some of the top cheating areas in Montreal?
NB: The winner this year is Westmount. It seems again to fit the pattern. Westmount seems to be a very affluent neighbourhood. So the only question you can have is, does affluence breed infidelity? Is it a nurture thing, or is it something about the people who become affluent that makes them be unfaithful? Like with anything, it’s a bit of both.

[Ed. note: If you’re curious, Westmount is followed by the Plateau, downtown, Old Montreal, Hudson, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Laval, Pointe-aux-Prairies, Pointe-Claire and Dorval.]

AD: If you could paint a picture of the type of customer you have at Ashley Madison, one male and the other female, what would he or she be like? I’m giving you full leeway to use stereotypes here.
NB: On the male side, there’s this notion of the seven-year itch. Men tend to have that first affair when their family dynamic changes. Their wife becomes pregnant, a kid is on the scene and what was once a very selfish free-loving relationship — that’s all changed now. A lot of men adjust poorly to that, and they pursue something extracurricular. The other side of that equation are men who spend their entire lives working for their families, dedicated to their families, and when they hit their 50s, they have a little bit of an empty-nest situation and want to do something for themselves, and that might be to take a younger lover.

On the women’s side, if I had to describe her, it would be married a decade maybe a decade plus and has a young family. She now feels neglected. She was once bought flowers, taken on dates and given a ring. She felt like the centre of the universe and now can barely even have a conversation, let alone make love. She is not going out on dinners and definitely not getting flowers. She is looking for a revalidation of her beauty and being the object of desire.

AD: Your site’s slogan is “Life is short. Have an affair.” Why not “Life is short. Communicate” or “Life is short. Get a divorce”?
NB: Well, first of all I am not in the communication business — I’m in the affair business. I used to say with monogamy comes monotony, but the get a divorce scenario isn’t a logical one. If you speak to a married couple and ask them to tell you what’s important in their marriage in order of one to five, how many people will say that sex is number one? Kids, economics, houses, family [come first], and so there are very few people who are willing to trade off number five (sex) on their list just to give all the rest up. It just doesn’t really make any sense.

AD: If you could sit an unmarried 20-something down and give him or her relationship advice, what would you say?
NB: I never negotiated monogamy with my partner, meaning I don’t recall a conversation where we sat down and said we are now monogamous. You got to negotiate that monogamy piece out front. It might be polyamoury — I don’t know, but I think it starts with having that conversation at the forefront of the relationship and not as a retrospective. If you don’t, you end up getting stuck in this problem where you actually can’t communicate with your partner because you are so terrified of the consequences. Nobody wants to live in a police state and that, in some cases, is what you would turn your marriage into if you broached a subject they might not feel comfortable with. That’s why there are so many more unfaithful couples than there are open marriages, let’s say.

AD: There may be many motivations for you to be running this company. Money may be one of them, but you are clearly fighting for something. Why do you do it?
NB: I found myself very alone in this conversation around infidelity with a whole slew of people kind of against it and very few people trying to understand it better. I genuinely felt an obligation there. Maybe I won’t get the rewards in my lifetime or even be recognized for it, but I genuinely believe that the information I’m in possession of needs to be out there. I can build better products as a result of it — that could have been my way of just hoarding it, or I can share the information with institutions. Ignorance evolves into knowledge, and I think on this topic we are very ignorant. Right now we are working with Duke University, the University of California and the University of Michigan, providing them data sets, because they want to study infidelity more effectively. That to me is a responsibility high and above making dollar bills.

AD: Would you cheat on your wife with me?
NB: Um… If she stopped sleeping with me, for sure. ■

Leave a Reply