They both heard about the service on their favorite national morning news program, while sipping their morning coffee. The concept was simple: a dating service/social network for people looking to have a discreet affair. Their immediate reaction to the site was mutual: who would resort to something like this? Certainly not them. Yet, before they knew it, they were registered under the aliases of “Creativemaker7” and “OceanBreeze123.”
Creativemaker7’s motivation was plain and simple: his wife no longer desired sex. He tried not to take it personally, but desired sex too much to ignore it. His wife went out of her way to make it clear that it was “her,” not “him.” But it’s hard for any man to fully buy into that logic and not take it personally. The only difference between “he” and “them” was that that he finally crossed the threshold of acting upon it.
As for OceanBreeze123, it wasn’t a matter of losing her sex drive, despite telling her husband the contrary. In fact, her drive had never been stronger. She just no longer had any sexual desire for him. “It’s all me, not you,” she insisted. She even encouraged him to have flings with other women if only to get him off her back, and therefore reducing the guilt she felt for not giving in to his desires. He assured her he could never do that, which only made her feel more pressure to give him something she didn’t want to give him. The sexual buck began and ended with her.
Meanwhile, as Creativemaker7’s sexual frustration continued to mount, he finally considered pursuing an affair, but he just didn’t think he had what it took to pursue such trysts – morally, or socially. Morally, he never thought he could ever succumb to flirting – let alone cheating. Furthermore, he was always was too inept at flirting with women in ordinary circumstances. Flirting with them as a married man with the hope of sleeping with them seemed completely out of the realm of possibility.
Creativemaker7 always viewed his sex drive as selfish. But, he also felt that it was selfish on his wife’s part to deprive him of sex entirely. Upon learning of the discreet affairs website, he now realized a whole new world lay at his fingertips. Suddenly, his reservations about an affair were less morally-motivated than he would have guessed. He realized what was perhaps holding him back more than anything was a combination of social anxieties and lack of access. He now had an outlet to alleviate his anxieties and a portal to gain access.
The morning she saw the report on her favorite morning news program, OceanBreeze123 headed off to her paralegal job and immediately looked up the site as soon as she sat down at her desk, peering around her cubicle to make sure no one was looking over her shoulder – or potentially about to approach. She briefly considered the fact that her IT department might be watching, but decided she could really care less. She was in the market for a new job – one that actually challenged her and was closer to home – with several new prospects already lined up.
Initially, she simply perused the site to get a feel for what it had to offer. She could certainly see the appeal. After twenty minutes of browsing, she realized she was late for a meeting, already sucked into the time vortex. She would pick up where she left off at lunch, at which point would decide to sleep on it one night before actually registering as a member.
Meanwhile, Creativemaker7 couldn’t access the site at work even if he wanted to. It was blocked by the firewall, which blocked out just about every other external website. This put quite the wrench in his plan, as he knew he couldn’t browse around after work at home – the desktop computer in his house was in plain sight, inconveniently situated in the living room. He would have to wait until after hours when she went to bed – which fortunately, was always early, leaving him ample hours of leisure time.
In fact, his wife had barely been in bed for an hour when Creativemaker7 became a registered member. Each step of the way, he could feel his heart racing with dangerous excitement, his palms coated in anticipatory sweat. Early the next morning morning, OceanBreeze123 also became a pulse-pounding member – a match written in the stars of cyberspace.
During every step of the prolonged process, both users tried to convince themselves that it wasn’t too late to abort their dangerous, enticing, mission all together, despite already haven taken the first step. But it kept feeling more and more like they were watching themselves in a movie, rather than living their own life.
The site promised discretion above all else, which is exactly why they both elected not to include a photo of themselves. They both knew that the lack of a photo would probably prohibit their chances, but they knew they had to play it safe. Men were just going to have to take OceanBreeze123’s word for it that she was attractive. She had enough confidence in her looks as not to let anyone down when they met her in person. Plus, she knew when it came to getting laid, men were generally not very picky. She could always send a private photo later. As for Creativemaker7, he never pretended to be anything less than average in the looks department. He certainly wasn’t going to start pretending now. Women were going to have no choice but to take a gamble on him. Hopefully, his charm would be enough to get by on, as it did when his wife fell for him once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away.
Once registered, the process of setting up a profile turned out to be more time-consuming than they would have guessed. It was much akin to creating a resume. Then again, that’s essentially what they were doing.
As he did the night before, Creativemaker7 waited until his wife was in bed before he got down to business. It helped his cause that she went to bed even earlier than usual that night, following an argument over – no surprise – sex (or, lack thereof). This alleviated the guilt factor and upped the excitement quotient. His need for a release felt only more justified in his mind. He got to work shortly past 9:30. Three hours later, he was till putting the finishing touches on his profile.
OceanBreeze123 waited till the next morning to work on her profile, hoping she would have it completed before her 10 o’clock meeting. No such luck. It would take two work days to complete the task, piecemeal – on breaks, during lunch, on business calls, etc. As much as she wanted to make her top priority, work kept getting in the way and she had to at least pretend she actually cared about her job, even if she was counting the days until she could formally resign. After all, she was still hoping for a good reference.
Both agonized over selecting a screen name that was neither too cliché, nor too eagerly desperate. After much mulling, the next step was checking off the wide array of personal interests and hobbies, followed by specifying exactly what they were looking for in a partner. Both wished there was an “Instant Sexual Gratification” or “Sex Only” option. Since there was no such thing, they both selected the one that most closely defined what they were looking for: “Short-term relationship.”
With their profiles now activated, they immediately began trolling through the endless collection of profiles (which to neither one’s surprise, was far more heavily dominated by male profiles), starting with a 50-mile radius, before realizing that they were casting their net way too far (both in terms of numbers and distance). They knew if they were to pull this whole thing off, they didn’t have the luxury of time on their side. Therefore, it was crucial that they find somebody in their own backyard. At first, they found themselves only looking at profiles that featured photos. But as they could attest themselves, a lack of a photo didn’t necessarily mean they weren’t attractive. They were being cautious. After all, if somebody was willing to throw their picture out there for the world to see, then how could they be “trusted” to be discretionary? Was this somebody they wanted to do “business” with? Of course, the disadvantage to not posting a picture – as they would quickly find out for themselves – was that most members turned down their request for contact (particularly, for him), which was no surprise. They just had to be patient – until they soon realized that patience wasn’t financially feasible.
Upon registration, neither one of them realized just how addicting the site was and – by extension – just how limited “free to register” meant. True, it was free to join. And free to look. But beyond that, nothing else was “free.” This included responding to notification messages sent from other users, which they quickly figured out. Within a few minutes of trolling through the site, both received notification messages. A minimum of $49 member upgrade credit package. These credits could then be used in exchange for both sending messages, and actually opening received messages. Otherwise, members were limited to browsing profiles. The addictive nature of the site was much akin to gambling. Whenever credits ran out, one’s natural instinct was that hitting the jackpot was just one re-load a way. Both Creativemaker7 and OceanBreeze123 couldn’t shake the thought that paying to communicate with potential sex partners had a ring of prostitution about it. At least with prostitution, you don’t have to pay to until you actually have sex.
After a great deal of see-sawing back and forth between the angel and devil on their shoulders, they finally took the plunge and bought the cheapest package, promising themselves it was a one-time purchase only. If they didn’t find somebody once the credits expired, they would close down their profile. Deep down, they figured even if they found someone, they more than likely wouldn’t go through with it anyway. The thrill of the chase was likely to remedy their frustration.
The site’s discretionary measures extended to the payment process, appearing as a generic business name on the credit card statement. It was a nice layer of added protection that neither one of them really needed. Both Creativemaker7 and OceanBreeze123 and their respective spouses had separate accounts. Neither one had ever given their spouses any reason to suspect anything and they intended to keep it that way.
Creativemaker7 and OceanBreeze123 were impressed by the site’s other discretionary safeguards, as well, which included a “panic button” that was much akin to an ejection seat that immediately re-directed them to a safe site. Despite the assurance of security the site provided, they couldn’t get past the nagging disappointment of having to pay in order to actually gain anything from the service. After exploring similar sites, they quickly came to the conclusion that every site was “free to join”, but of course had an asterisk in the form of a dollar sign. They did stumble upon a handful of options that were completely free, but were usually seedy, thinly veiled escort services (usually identified by unattractive nude photos and usually used as their profile photo). Craigslist wasn’t much different. They momentarily considered traditional dating services like eHarmony or Match.com, but quickly realized that these sites were aimed at single people looking for a long-term relationship. They were in the market for the exact opposite and therefore needed a site where they didn’t have to pretend they were something they were not. Sure, they had to pretend otherwise in the context of their own marriage, but the site itself had nothing to hide.
What they both found really surprising was the number of “attached” members who were looking for more than just an outlet for sex. Some were looking for a legitimate companion for dating and all the frills that come with an actual relationship. These were people who literally wanted to start a second life, perhaps to serve as an impetus, or catalyst, to eventually leave behind their current one. There were also several members who were content having nothing more than a cyber affair – a much safer and (relatively) less damaging option. However, cyber sex just didn’t seem appealing to them. It seemed more like a variation on the theme of masturbation and truth be told, lately, neither one of them were lacking in that department.
Another surprising discovery was the number of people on the site who were actually identified as single and looking to have an affair with a married person. At least they were only putting one marriage at risk.
With no further deliberation, they finally decided to take the plunge and pay up. Within a few messages, they were both bombarded with an onslaught of notification messages. Hers were real. His were (mostly) not. Creativemaker7 initially assumed all messages were authentic, but eventually came to the conclusion that the messages were automatically sent by “bots”, posing as real life people. There were simply too many men flooding the service to meet the demand and fake profiles were the bait used by the site to wet the whistles of their users in the hope that they would keep feeding the snake more money for credits. Most men eventually figured out the scam, but not before spending a lot of money first. Even if the site lost clients along the way as a result, they could at least milk them for their money first. The best clients never figured it out.
It didn’t take long for Creativemaker7 to figure it out. “Fake” messages always featured a profile pic. Authentic ones usually did not. Not only did they always include a profile pic, but they were usually extremely attractive, too. And they usually sent a short message, usually consisting of no more than two or three words – a variation on the theme of: “Wanna chat?” or “Want to chat?”
At first, Creativemaker7 naturally assumed that the messages were legit. Therefore, he would usually reply – sometimes within seconds after receiving a message when the sender was still visibly online – only never to hear from the sender again.
For OceanBreeze123, on the other hand, there was no shortage of options. In fact, sorting through the deluge of messages and deciding which ones to spend the money on was a stressful challenge. However, as stressful as it was, she enjoyed all the attention she was receiving – even mildly enjoying the attention from the wild abundance of creeps and pervs. She felt wanted again. Initially, she was hopeful that just having that feeling would be enough to fill the void in her soul. But soon, words were no longer enough. She needed physical attention. And it was only a matter of time before she found it.
As much as they both tried justifying their actions by reminding themselves they wouldn’t be in this position had their partners paid more attention to them, they knew deep down that there was simply no excuse for their selfish actions. They knew it was wrong on every level, yet here they were doing it anyway. They both knew full well what was at stake, yet proceeded to follow through anyway.
Two weeks passed. Neither one of them had found what they were looking for and doubts about the validity of the service steadily increased. Their uncertainty certainly wasn’t helped by two close calls that required use of the panic button. Creativemaker7 learned this the hard way when his wife snuck past him unexpectedly en route to the bathroom. She just narrowly avoided catching him in the act, much in the manner that she did the one time she walked in on him masturbating in the blue midnight glow of his computer screen ever since she decided sex was no longer going to be a fixture in their marriage.
OceanBreeze123 narrowly missed getting caught by her boss, who appeared from behind at her cubicle like a silent phantom. She quickly hit the panic button. If he saw anything, he certainly didn’t let on, but she wasn’t entirely convinced.
Their initial experiences certainly did nothing to compromise their promise to themselves not to order more credits after their first initial purchase ran out. Although tempting, neither one gave any serious thought to upgrading their membership to the $200 “Affair Guaranteed Pro Package”. They were going to stick to their game plan by riding their basic package and hoping for the best.
Down to their final credit, they both decided to sit on it for awhile, making sure they were absolutely certain of their selection. Two days later, when they had all but given up hope that they would hit the jackpot, they found what they were looking for. All it took were two e-mails, simultaneously sent to one another at 3:25 p.m. Aside from sharing the same date and time, the content of both messages were almost identical. Unable to see it as anything other than a sign of fate (despite never having seen a picture of one another), they quickly set up a date to meet at a hotel bar. Their parallel availability couldn’t be more perfect. She always made it home 2-3 hours before her husband and it wasn’t unusual for her to be at a coffee shop beyond the time he came home, reading her boredom away. Meanwhile, he had a lighter workload these days, so could easily sneak out of work earlier than usual to avoid detection from his wife, under the guise of yet another dinner meeting. They agreed to meet at a spot half way between their jobs (which were about an hour apart) to hopefully minimize the probably of running into someone they knew.
While en route to their secret rendezvous, doubt rapidly began to creep in, creating an unsettling feeling in the pits of their stomachs. It felt different than the usual butterflies one experiences before a first date. Then again, it had been so long since either of them had a first date, perhaps they had forgotten exactly what it felt like. They were both hopeful that the uneasy feeling was nothing a drink or two couldn’t resolve. In the meantime, they struggled mightily against the growing urge to turn around and pull the plug on their scandalous mission. Despite knowing deep down inside that it was the right thing to do, they kept moving forward.
As Creativemaker7 pulled into the parking lot, he scanned the parking lot for his wife’s car, before realizing that there were at least five cars that looked just like his wife’s. Beyond all logic, this somehow seemed to alleviate his paranoia. He proceeded to take a deep breath, got out of his car and headed into the bar, surrendering to the occasion to meet the mystery woman who awaited him.
Already halfway through her first glass of wine, OceanBreeze123 sat at the bar, when a man she thought she didn’t know at all turned out to be the man she knew more than anyone. They smiled in recognition, before indulging in a shared cocktail of laughter, horror, and shocked disbelief, which somehow seemed to bring everything back to the start, before everything eroded. They were now given a second chance to discover one another, reminding themselves of everything they had not so much discarded, but accidentally left behind in the wake of neglect.
A couple of hours later, after several drinks and conversation reminded them of a time when their love was new and young and dangerously alive, they debated whether they should still get a room. They decided to save the money and head home, where they proceeded to have the greatest sex of their lives. The next day, they closed down their profiles, together, vowing never to make the same mistake again. They already had it all.
R.J. Fox is the award-winning writer of several short stories, plays, poems, a memoir, and 15 feature length screenplays. Two of his screenplays have been optioned to Hollywood. He has also been published in over 30 literary magazines.
His website is www.foxplots.com. Or follow him on Twitter @foxwriter7.