By Jacquelyn Sit, NEWS 9
Millions are registered with online dating services nationwide. eHarmony alone claims to have 17 million users, about 17 percent of the total U.S. population, registered on their site. But not all online daters are truthful and not all of them are single.
"I'm a gambler and it reminds me a little bit of gambling," said Tony, a married Oklahoma City man who uses an online dating service. Tony's name has been changed as he would only agree to be interviewed if he remained anonymous.
In a 2006 Pew Research Center study, just over half, 52 percent, of those polled said online daters were dishonest about being married.
But there are a dozen of dating Web sites where married people search for lovers without needing to lie about their marital status. One of these Web sites is The Ashley Madison Agency, where the slogan is "Life is short. Have an affair."
"It's a revalidation for a lot of people who need that, everybody needs that," said Noel Biderman, chief executive officer of the dating site. "I'm guilty of being greedy for affection."
Hundreds of Oklahomans are also apparently greedy for affection. More than 200 Oklahomans have registered for the site and the number continues to grow, Biderman said.
Tony is married with children, yet still signed up with the online dating service months ago, saying he gets something from the site he doesn't get at home.
"My own wife is sick a lot and it's not her fault at all, and I would never leave her, I owe her everything; but at the same time I'm just taking care of myself," Tony said. "You can clearly state what your needs are and you can clearly state that you're interested in a one night stand, participate and it's over."
According to the extramarital matchmaking site, there are 1.8 million registered users, up 40 percent from last year. Biderman said he is not convincing people like Tony to cheat, they've already made that decision on their own.
"I'm not looking to convince anybody to have an affair or have a relationship outside a current one," he said.
But family therapist Charlotte Lankard with the INTEGRIS James L. Hall Jr. Center for Mind, Body and Spirit thinks this kind of cavorting is not healthy.
"If you're doing this there's something missing in your life and we can make the relationship you're in better, if that's where you want to be," said Lankard.
But Tony denies he is missing anything. He claims he is content.
"I think life is short and I'm not convinced there's not going to be much after this; so I'm trying to live life to the fullest," he said.