A survey conducted across 40 countries last year, by the Pew Research Centre, USA, found that 62% of Indians had no issues indulging in extramarital affairs. It is no surprise then, that several Indian users seem to have contributed to making a French website — which provocatively calls itself “the first extramarital dating site made by women” — a virtual hit.
The site, gleeden.com, has a clear set of rules. “You can meet married or attached men and women from all over the world,” it says, while asking the user to “be honest about your marital status.” The irony couldn’t be more palpable. Soon after gaining popularity, the site also earned its fair share of criticism for “promoting extramarital affairs”. But that doesn’t seem to have hampered its success rate.
In a bid to understand what it is that leads married men and women in India to cheat on their partners, we decided to interact with some firsthand. We created two profiles on the site (with no photographs) — one of a 30-year-old married man, and the other, a 30-year-old married woman, both from Mumbai.
No female appeal
As expected, our male profile got no takers. But the female profile had a flurry of requests from potential partners. During our interactions, the reasons the men shared with us for cheating ranged from boredom, to an inactive sex life and even general intimacy issues.
The first person who approached us was a 43-year-old businessman, named Shekhar Sharma. He had been married to a homemaker for four years. While he frequently asked us if we were “okay with having sex with an unknown person”, he refused to tell us why he was so eager to cheat on his wife.
Most of the Indian men who approached us on this site wanted to set up a meeting at the earliest, almost as if time was running out.
Amit Sehgal, 49, was a stockbroker and married to someone who is “employed” (he didn’t specify her profession) for over 20 years. However, he wasn’t as secretive about his intentions. He left us a few messages, giving us a fixed time at which to chat, and insisted that we meet as soon as possible. When we refused to comply, he asked us for our picture to compensate.
Eventually, when we got talking about what led him to this site, he started complaining about his wife. He said she was “fat”, and that “the last time they had sex was over a year ago”.
While Sehgal said he has never slept with someone outside marriage, he insisted that all his “friends regularly cheated on their wives.”
Easy way out
Sean Joseph, a 29-year-old BPO employee, had a timing issue with his wife, he said. She would be asleep by the time he reached home, and they didn’t have common days off. He found the idea of cheating on her far simpler than working out their dailyschedule. Joseph wasn’t interested in knowing much about us. Without even asking us for our picture, he invited us over. At the same time, he was honest enough to reveal to us that he hadn’t been lucky with any women so far, and that he was only looking to have safe sex with someone to satisfy his urges.
Among the many signals or actions available on the website, users have a choice to add people to their list of ‘favourites’. That’s what 39-year-old Dr Yogesh Kampani did. However, after adding us to the list, he didn’t contact us.
Eventually, we reached out to him. He had been married for a little less than a decade. Like the others that we chatted with, he, too, said that he had never cheated on his wife, who was a homemaker. His sex life was not entirely inactive (they had sex once a month only when his wife wanted to) either, but it clearly lacked the zing. Being a doctor, he said he was attracted to many of his female patients, but never knew how to approach them. The website, probably, gave him the strength of anonymity.
Kampani never asked us for sex directly. He spent more of his time asking us for guidance on how he could approach women who he meets regularly.
After interacting with several men on this platform for almost over two weeks, we realised that most of them relied on the Internet because leaving behind the baggage of the real world seemed like a tempting offer. However, going by how we were flooded with requests, Indian men probably don’t stand a chance to cheat on too many real women on such dating sites.
(Names of all individuals have been changed)