Ashley Madison Review: Real or Fake Profiles?

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Bored of your marriage and looking for a hookup? Want sex soon? It’s now easier than ever to find a hookup online, as long as you pick the right website and do the right things. 

Like you, I wasn’t looking for an ordinary dating site. I needed something a bit – shall we say, different – to satisfy the needs that my partner wasn’t satisfying anymore. 

This is when I came across Ashley Madison, a hookup site that prides itself on being different from the crowd. It’s discreet, it’s sexual and it’s for anyone with voracious sexual appetites who are looking for open, monogamous or polyamorous relationships.

It’s also for adulterous couples in need of a fling. 

But how good is it really? Moreover, how safe is it to use? In this article, I’m going to walk you through the in’s and out’s of Ashley Madison. I’ll be looking at:

  • Affordability 
  • User experience 
  • Privacy and security 

I’ll also be sharing with you my own personal experiences and demonstrating how easy it is to land a hookup. 

Ashley Madison Review

Affordability

Ashley Madison has courted controversy over the years for being a go-to site for unhappy spouses seeking fun and excitement away from their relationship. It’s also courted a bit of controversy for its pricing structure. 

Basically, while men have to pay in order to message women, everyone else gets access to the site’s features for free. This means if you’re a man looking for a man, a woman looking for a man or a woman looking for a woman, you don’t have to pay a cent. 

Moreover, whereas rivals like Adult Friend Finder base their fees on monthly subscriptions, Ashley Madison goes down the route of credits that you purchase per package.

There are 3 packages on offer: 

  • Elite – 1,000 credits 
  • Classic – 500 credits
  • Basic – 100 credits 
membership price

Credits get you access to different features, but some features require more credits than others. I purchased the Classic package to get me rolling and found that initiating an email costs five credits, which didn’t seem so bad at all. Opening a message also requires 5 credits. 

Of course, the more messages you send, the more credits you need. Honestly, though, this isn’t something to worry about as Ashley Madison isn’t the type of dating website where you’ll be messaging a million people. Moreover, you only need to use credits up once per person. In other words, if you start sending regular messages to someone, you won’t need to use more than your initial 5 credits. 

Gifts, meanwhile, can cost as much as 50 credits. 

Payment options include PayPal, debit and credit card. No other e-wallets are accepted. 

And if you’re wondering what you can do for free if you’re a man seeking women? Not a lot. You can open an account and view profiles, and you can send winks. But you can’t do much else. You can’t, for example, boost your profile, message someone or even open a message. 

It’s therefore the opinion of this reviewer that Ashley Madison is only worthwhile if you purchase a credit plan. 

Audience Quality – Are The Profiles Real? 

real female member profile

When Ashley Madison was breached in 2016, millions of real profiles were exposed … and lots of fake profiles were exposed, too. 

As you can expect, Ashley Madison has subsequently had to work hard to regain the public’s trust. What’s the point in signing up (and paying) to a hookup site if the profiles are fake anyway? 

I’m not going to lie to you: I’ve been on the website for a few weeks now and I know there are fake profiles on there.

But there are also lots of real and genuine profiles, too. In fact, there are more real profiles than fake ones now, with reports showing that Ashley Madison has wiped out most – if not all – the female bots. 

How can you tell the difference?

It’s not always easy, and one of the things that makes it harder is that – in a bid to keep things discreet – Ashley Madison actually lets you blur your picture. The reason for this is that a lot of married people use Ashley Madison to cheat on their partners. Thus, they don’t want to get caught. 

blurred member profile

That said, if a man is to message a woman (as I did), they have to send their photos first. At that point, it’s a good idea to always send your best pics, as well as more than one. This gives the recipient a good idea that you’re not fake. Send pics of you smiling, looking sexy and maybe even doing some sort of activity, even if it’s just drinking in a bar.

It’s also not a bad idea to send pics of you enjoying the company of the opposite sex as it increases your sexual market value while also showing that you’re a real profile. 

Secondly, the fake profiles tend to send very short messages – sometimes they’ll send just one word. I got a few messages that simply said ‘Sex?’ 

If you’re merely interested in a hookup, you might prefer short messages like that. Personally, I used Ashley Madison more as a friend with benefits would, and so I was looking to start proper conversations with people. If you do this, and if you even display a sense of humour, you’ll have a much better chance convincing people you’re real. 

Another thing that’s worth pointing out is that there’s been a lot of research carried out into the realness of Ashley Madison profiles, and whilst millions of them are real, a large percentage of members are inactive

This can be tough to take for men because women don’t have to pay for anything on Ashley Madison, which means they can sign up and leave without any incentive to keep using the site. Men, on the other hand, have to pay in order to message women and so they’ll want to get their money’s worth. 

Moreover, it’s even stipulated in the terms and conditions that some users are on the website purely for entertainment purposes. They may not have any intentions of actually meeting up. 

Interface, Usability and Features 

One of the best things about Ashley Madison is how easy the website is to use. The signup process is super simple and, as the website itself tells you, should take less than a minute. You can upload some pics and some information for your bio, but you can also skip these steps and fill them in later on. 

Other than that, searching for users is also a convenient and simple process. You just click on the search bar at the top of the homepage and scroll down to view members. You can also amend your search at the top of the page so that you can find members that are located near you and of any age range. You can also tweak your search according to when someone was last online.

Features 

There are lots of features on Ashley Madison for you to take advantage of. Here are some of the best ones:

Favourites List 

One of the problems I’ve always had with dating sites is curating a list of women I might like to message. You know the type: You’re not sure whether you should message them or not but you’d like to be able to save their profile so that you can shoot them an email at a later date, should you wish. 

Ashley Madison allows you to do this via a Favourites List. You can add as many as 100 profiles to this list and it’s free to use (even for men). 

There’s also a blocked list, too, which helps you to separate the real profiles from the fake ones as you go along. 

Private Photos

If you’re a premium, fully paid-up member, you get access to private photos. These are photos a man or woman sends to you that only you can see. They’re obviously more intimate than public photos, and they’re a great way to get close to someone on Ashley Madison. Basically, they turn up the heat, which is exactly what you want. 

Private Photos

Personally? Private photos is one of my favourite features as I get to see more of the woman I’m chatting to, and even if we don’t eventually meet it’s a lot of fun. 

Blurred Pics 

As mentioned earlier, you can upload blurred pics of yourself so that your partner (or anyone else who you don’t want to see you on Ashley Madison) can see you. Your image will be blurred or you can add a fake mask instead.

Below is an example of a user who added a face mask to protect their identity:

real blurred member pic example

Don’t worry – you can hand someone a key whenever you want to see their proper pictures. This key should be used when you start chatting to someone you’re interested in. 

Winks 

Anyone can send winks for free and they’re a pretty cool feature. A wink is basically a way of telling someone you’re interested in their profile, and you can see it on their page. Like this:

real female profile example 2

I’d suggest only using winks when you’re genuinely interested in a profile, as it could lead to you getting messaged by fake profiles if you’re not careful. 

Also, if you’re a man looking for a woman, you can only see the person who’s winked at you if you subscribe. 

Winks

Send Gifts

Gifts cost credits and some can cost as many as 50 credits. All gifts are, of course, virtual, but they’re a great way to let someone know you really like them and would possibly like to take this further.

It’s really easy to send a gift. You just click on their profile and click the gift tab. Then, you need to select your gift:

Send Gifts

Gifts are a premium feature. As you can see from the pic, you need credits to use them. I used them a couple of times but you have to be super selective regarding which man or woman you send them too as they are a tad on the expensive side.

But they’re also a great way to start a conversation as you can include a message along with your gift. I sent gifts with and without messages, and got way responses when I sent a message. 

Priority Man

It’s a real bummer when you’re on a hookup site with millions of other men who are – like you – fighting to get the attention of women. Or vice versa. You know you look good in your pics and your bio is ultra sexy. But no one is viewing your profile. It sucks.

This is where – for men – Priority Man proves useful. You have to use credits to get it, but it’s a feature that boosts your profile so that more members see it. 

Travelling Man

If you’re the type of man who’s always travelling for work and loves nothing more than a hookup in a new city, the Travelling Man feature is well worth a closer look.

Essentially, it lets you message 30 women in a city you’ll be visiting soon. You get a chance to chat to them and finesse them before landing in their area and – hopefully – meeting up. 

This is a premium feature that I’ve personally had no cause to use yet. But when I fly over to France next month, I’m definitely giving it a shot. It’s simple to use, too, and all you need to do is fill in a few details:

Travelling Man feature
Travelling Man feature 2

Design 

The design element of any dating site is important. And, believe me, I’ve joined dating sites that are so hard to use that I’ve had to bail out pretty quickly.

As you can see from the image below, Ashley Madison has a pretty basic design layout. On the homepage, your most recent messages are collected so that you can get stuck right in at the click of a button. Perfect.

design

Everything else is just a click away, too. The key pages are all listed neatly on the tab at the top, and you can jump from searching for profiles to buying more credits without any hassle at all.

There’s not a lot to Ashley Madison but I think this is for the best. Users are here for one thing only – sex – and the design complements that. 

Plus, the electric pink colours (used for all the important stuff) contrast nicely with the white background and put you in the mood for sex. 

Once slight thing that goes against Ashley Madison is that the site can be a glitchy sometimes, as per the image below. Occasionally, menus overlap and it looks uneasy on the eyes. 

Privacy and Security 

One of the biggest concerns I had when signing up to Ashley Madison was site security. Like many, I’m a married man who doesn’t want certain people finding out that I’m on this website 

Ashley Madison suffered a massive data breach a few years ago, when millions of its members were left exposed. It wasn’t cool and, worse still, the site was breached again just twelve months later. 

It’s a tad worrying that users can still create numerous accounts from the same email address, which means more fake profiles, as well as more opportunities for hackers to steal your photos. 

Experts and analysts also suggest that it’s not difficult for hackers to then use your photos for other means and identify who you are exactly. That’s not exactly good for privacy and it’s the last thing you want if you’re married. 

On the flip side, Ashley Madison is well aware of these issues and has made efforts to regain our trust

To that extent, security has been strengthened and – as mentioned earlier – the female bots that were plaguing the site have been removed. 

In terms of the aforementioned security, Ashley Madison was formerly very loose on this front, and there was no written information security policy. However, an FTC settlement now means that a ‘comprehensive data-security program’ is in place, as well as ‘third-party assessments.’

You can be sure that Ashley Madison are taking your privacy very seriously for once. 

Hookup Chance:

Okay, let’s get to the main point here: Does Ashley Madison actually work as a hookup website? What are your chances of success? 

Like many who use this site, I’m an unhappily married man. I used to be happy but the light has faded in my relationship. Do I think it’s gone forever? Maybe not. But I’m a sexually aware and active man who needs physical contact.

And I just wasn’t getting that in my loveless marriage. My wife has barely put out since she had our second child three years ago.

So I turned to Ashley Madison in the hope that putting some excitement back into my sex life might even reignite the spark in my marriage somehow. I certainly needed something to make me feel wanted again – to feel alive again. 

So I signed up, bought some credits, filled out my profile – and started messaging women. 

I suppose like many who use the site I was a bit disconcerted at first by the obvious fake profiles. Moreover, a lot of women messaged once and I never heard from them again.

But this happens on all dating sites.

In any case, I decided to use the Priority Man feature to boost my profile. 

And it wasn’t long before I was making proper connections with sexy women in my area who were looking for what I was – a no strings attached hookup.

The great thing about Ashley Madison is that you can find women who have the exact same sexual interests as you, as they put this in their profile. Like this: 

So I found someone who had the same sexual interests as me and we arranged to meet up. 

Overall, I managed to have sex with 2 women off Ashley Madison in a short space of time. Is it worth it? Absolutely. I didn’t spend that much and I wasted very little time with the time wasters.

Ashley Madison works if you know what you want and find someone genuine who’s looking for exactly what you want. As long as you both find each other attractive, there’s no reason not to meet. 

3 Alternatives to Ashley Madison 

If you’re not 100% sure about Ashley Madison and perhaps don’t like the way it promotes adultery, there are lots of other hookup sites to choose from. However, they’re not all good. Here are my personal top picks:

Adult Friend Finder 

Adult Friend Finder works a lot like Ashley Madison in that it’s a pure and simple hookup site. However, both men and women have to pay to get the ball rolling.

Adult Friend Finder is safe, reputable and has millions of active users. It also has some great features, such as live webcam shows, videos and blogs. Overall, it feels like more of a community than Ashley Madison. 

Click here to read our AdultFriendFinder review.

Be Naughty

The clue is in the name of this successful hookup site that encourages users to be as naughty as they want. It’s a no-holds barred website that has a simple interface. It’s easy to use and singles and couples alike can have a lot of fun on it. It’s also reasonably priced.  

Tinder 

Perhaps the biggest dating app on the planet, Tinder might not strictly be a sex app – but it’s definitely possible to land a hookup on it. It’s super simple to use and all you need to do is swipe left or right on potential matches. If you match, you’ve just gotta shoot someone a message. 

Tinder is free to use and message but paying for membership gives you perks such as more daily Super Likes and more Boosts. 

Ashley Madison FAQ 

How Can I Use Ashley Madison For Free?

If you’re a man looking for a woman, you have to pay to use Ashley Madison’s services. Everyone else can send and receive messages for free. 

Is Ashley Madison Now Safe?

Ashley Madison has worked had to restore its reputation after the data breach a few years back. The company is now so confident about its security that it’s reintroduced its controversial tagline: “Life is short, have an affair.” 

In other words, it’s once again aimed at adulterous couples, with the company confident that their data and personal information won’t be compromised so that their partners won’t find out.

How Do Credits Work?

A man can’t message a woman until he pays for credits. Credits are also used to purchase gifts and a few other site features. The exact cost of a gift depends on what it is.

Summary 

Ashley Madison is a unique site in that it targets unhappily married couples who are looking for sex elsewhere. Signing up isn’t risky, though – Ashley Madison has tightened its security so that you’re free to register and message other horny spouses who want the same thing you do: A no strings attached hookup. 

It has its downsides for men, of course, with women able to use it for free. That said, it has enough features and sexy singles (and couples) that make it well worth your time if you’re looking for sex ASAP. 

Will Titterington

Will Titterington

Will is a writer, coach and life lover who enjoys helping people reach their potential. Will has plenty of experience with Online Dating. He loves to test different apps and sites and share his experience on DatingXP. He loves art, sports, connecting with new people from all over the world, and making people laugh.

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