When I received a PR email from the dating site Ashley Madison, I deleted it. I didn't want to promote their business.
Ashley Madison is an infidelity website, the dating service for married people. Established in Canada in 2002 with the slogan, "Life is short. Have an affair", the site facilitates cheating and is predicated on deception, reports news.com.au.
Ugh, I thought, as I logged out of my inbox. What would it be like to work for that company?
And suddenly, I really wanted to know.
A couple of days later, I was on the phone line to Canada, talking to Paul Keable, the Vice President of Communications for Ashley Madison. I felt mildly hostile as I began to question him. How did he justify working for a company that encourages people to have affairs?
"I gave the job a great deal of thought," Paul said. He is 43, married, with two young kids.
"But I have spent a lot of time speaking to actual members, and for them we are seen as a benefit. We've helped their marriage."
Hmmm. That sounded like PR spin to me.
"What made you take the job?" I asked Shereen*, the 46-year-old PR rep for Ashley Maddison, Australia.
"After poring through the member stories, I was fascinated and empathised, and understood what it's like to be in a relationship where a segment of your life is unmet. In their cases it was emotional and physical intimacy."
But ... but ... what does your partner think?
"He often helps me with the cheeky headlines," she said.
I turned my attention to Catharine, a married 48-year-old from Ashley Madison's legal department. Does her husband have any thoughts about her work?
"I was concerned that he would be jealous," she said, "but he was very supportive. He thinks there are people who need this kind of service and that there is nothing wrong in helping them."
As for Paul, "I'm a married man so I've had that conversation twice over." (Keable left the site in 2015 after the data breach, but returned a year later.) "The first time around there was obviously trepidation - 'did you want to go join this for a personal reason or a business reason?' - but fortunately she is in communications as well as so she understood."
So what about friends? Do they ever give the Ashley Madison staff a hard time?
"Some are puzzled by the Ashley Madison users' motives in married dating ... but they're very interested in knowing what happens behind the curtain."
Paul acknowledged that some employees are discreet about their work. "The wife of one of my colleagues was a teacher in the Catholic system so that didn't go down well. They had to keep his job on the lowdown."
Paul's own friends, however, are deeply interested in member stories. "I'll go to a cocktail party and people find out quickly, and invariably I'm the popular guy. They want to talk to me and ask questions."
This made sense to me. I know I'm fascinated with Ashley Madison, its members and staff. Many of us are. We may moralise about infidelity and pass judgments on married dating, but we have an endless appetite for the subject.
"There are certain publications which don't want to "talk" about Ashley Madison," Shereen told me, "but will cover their headlines in celebrity affairs and cheating partners, and post pictures of husbands caught red handed with the nanny.
"Journalists message saying their guilty pleasure is poring through the member stories and statistics we share. It still surprises me so many people put their head in the sand or have such discomfort with this component of human behaviour."
But if all the Ashley Madison employees are so accepting of infidelity, would any of them have an affair?
"I've never cheated on a partner, even the crappy ones!" said Shereen. "I'm one of the 30% of relationships types who would never have an affair."
"At this point in time, not interested," said Catharine.
Paul was more nuanced. "If the person I was married to changed so dramatically that we didn't have the same relationship, and that intimacy was taken away, and I was unwilling to walk away from everything else? Maybe."
After chatting with the Ashley Madison team, I felt unsettled. Whether they genuinely believed in what they were doing, or were excellent actors, it seemed clear to me that Ashley Madison is not the problem. People have always had affairs and will continue to have affairs. The internet just provides new and exciting ways to do so.
Still, not everyone is as forgiving as me.
"I did tell my mother that Ashley Madison is an organ donor matching service," Shereen told me. "She's in one of the 30% of non-affair marriages. And you don't get lemons on apple trees!"