The French have historically been known for their “ménages à trois” relationships, and now, for Gleeden – an extra-marital dating app with over 10 million users worldwide.
Noteworthy, Indians didn’t take too long to sign up either, making up 20 percent of Gleeden users, which has raised questions about whether marriages remain as traditional in India as we believe.
In times of Tinder and Bumble, nothing is left to chance; not even extra-marital affairs. This is mainly because they have to be discreet and hushed. Gleeden boasts of offering “discreet encounters” and a chance at successful infidelity worldwide, finally starting a conversation around something that Indians believe does not affect their marriages. With around 2 million users from India on the application, that belief is of course a sham.
“Take a bite,” says Gleeden, born in 2009, out of common marital problems shared by founder Teddy Truchot’s employees, who complained of not having an “adult playground” where they could carry out their affairs with full discretion. Eight years later, Gleeden entered the Indian market at a time when adultery was decriminalised by the Supreme Court of India. The Indian user base back then stood at 3.5 lakh, covering cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Even today, most of the users belong to these tier one cities.
The five-judge bench had ruled that section 497 was unconstitutional and discriminatory against women. On that note, it is of utmost importance to point out that Gleeden is an application made by women, for women, to clap back against the sexism around adultery. In 50 percent of countries, extramarital sex is tolerable for men, but in only 25 percent of societies it is acceptable for women. The drive to ensure the paternity of heirs is what has led to this double standard, which controls female sexuality more strictly than the male sexuality.
Additionally, it has been linked to the power gap between the sexes, which reinforces a man’s perception of dominance over a woman, which is why masculine roles frequently favour sexual exploration.
Biting The Forbidden Fruit
“We did not have sex ever since we got married, and that was four years ago,” lamented a user (male, 33). He signed up on the app recently looking to meet someone for companionship and a casual physical relationship. When asked whether he tried communicating with his wife and seeing through the problems, he shared that since they got married in an arranged set-up, they are not very open with each other, and even if they did communicate, the conversations were never fruitful.
This is the top reason that brings most users to the app. Indian marriages are predominantly fixed in an arranged set-up under family pressure, which in turn traps individuals in an unsatisfying marriage, where for example, despite living together spouses often sleep in different beds. This void pushes them to look for love and passion outside marriage, and that’s where Gleeden comes in.
One user was separated from his wife and was soon to be divorced while another male user had been married for nine years with two kids. While often the guilt of cheating on their partner and the stress of getting caught mentally exhausted them, the shambles of a dying marriage seemed scarier.
“But, it’s hard to find genuine women here,” shared a male user. “They are either fake accounts made by us, men… Or the accounts belong to escorts… Sometimes women just flock to the app for sugar-dating. Since profiles are not verified, it’s hard to tell bots apart.”
As if that isn’t a big enough hurdle, men also have to pay on the app to chat with women. The pay-per-conversation model of Gleeden becomes quite hefty for them, so they either shift the conversation to Telegram or WhatsApp.
Nevertheless, Gleeden offers an exciting user interface wherein you can be as detailed as you want with your interests and what brings you to the app. You may choose to share your pictures publicly or privately, ensuring security. What’s more, users can also send crush alerts, mails for free and virtual gifts.
However, a prominent outcome of the app is single Indian women who are either divorced or widowed, defying all odds and stereotypes, trying to start fresh on the app. Gleeden has boosted their confidence and become a safe platform for independent women.
India is a country that takes pride in traditional marriages, religious values, and monogamous nature of of relationships, without addressing the ever-increasing user base and their failing marriages. These troubled users are symbolic of a dynamic shift from monogamy to polygamy and open marriages. The app is definitely a conversation starter about resolving marital issues in therapy and having transparent conversations with one’s spouse, and on the other hand, acknowledging that even individuals of a society as conservative and traditional as India cannot find love and excitement in just one person.
When 55 percent of the population takes to infidelity, the so-called “low” divorce rate in India is definitely a myth.