The concept of relationships and marriages in India has seen a drastic shift in the last few years, especially with the large youth segment and their challenging opinions on romantic relationships. For many many years, especially in Indian society, the foundation of a romantic relationship revolved around the constitution of marriage. There was a lot of dependency of both men and women on each other in marriage which kept this constitution going on for years irrespective of any hurdles big or small. Today, the youth is independent in all aspects of life – financially, emotionally and mentally. The factor of dependency on a partner is slowly fading away and both men and women are open to being together with no labels.
Technology plays a major role in this shift on how people view relationships these days. Everything right from food, and information to dating, is just a click away and people no longer value the patience and effort it takes to build a substantial relationship. If it takes longer to reach the goal, they consider it a waste of time. This mindset has permeated every aspect of life, including relationships. People still want love, but with little sacrifice. Still crave harmony, but with little compromise. Many people in India today, date multiple people without really investing time in getting to know them. They move on to the next person at the very first sign of “incompatibility” and in search of that perfect chemistry that only exists in rom-coms.
This behaviour has led to the concept of Monogamy sounding like a crisis and marriages are no longer viewed as a throne for a secure relationship. Although everyone loves the idea of being in love, there are very few who want to work for it and end up getting bored easily. For people who are already committed to a marriage, this brings in a lot of displeasure and disappointment which is what increases extramarital affairs. There could be a high possibility that for people like this, marriage happened either too soon in their life – leaving them with the fear of not having had other romantic experiences or the urgency to try them. For some they feel they are with the wrong person, hence wondering or imagining the feeling of what if…?
These individuals have always been present in Indian society, and on a large scale. In January 2020 Gleeden – an extramarital dating app presented a study, conducted by IPSOS, about the state of Infidelity in India. According to the results gathered by IPSOS, 55% of Indians had already been unfaithful to their current partner at least once at the time of the interview out of which 54% were men and 56% were women. This marks a huge deal showing us exactly the state of a “happily ever after” marriage in India. The important question to decode here is – if someone is unhappy in their marriage why not just break it off, move on and divorce your partner?
Well, the honest answer here is even today, very few people have the guts to tear down years of marriage with a separation or a divorce. People still prefer to sweep the dust under the carpet. Hence apps like Gleeden have seen huge success in India. Most of their users come from a high socio-economic environment. Both men and women are professionals, with a college education and high-earning jobs. There are engineers, entrepreneurs, consultants, managers, executives, and physicians and also include a high number of housewives. As for age, men are mostly 35+ while women are 26+.
Sharing about this shift in monogamy and infidelity in Indians, Sybil Shiddell, Country Manager India for Gleeden shares, “The Indian society has been very quiet on matters related to marriage for many years but 2022 has seen a lot of people starting to embrace the concept that monogamy is not forcefully the only way, and more and more couples are opening their marriages to adventure and experimentation. However, it is important to understand that there could be multiple reasons behind infidelity and it does not always depend on the behaviour of the spouse. Mostly, people cheat because they feel something is missing in their life and they fancy a new adventure. For some people, cheating could also be beneficial to the couple and add some spiciness to their marriage. An IPSOS study, as well as some internal surveys, found out that physical attraction and sex, lack of attention from the current partner and desire for a blowing romance are the most common drives that lead to an extramarital affair.”
She adds, “Even as we speak about people and their desires, there isn’t a one-fits-all formula. Everything depends on the individuals and the reasons behind infidelity. In the ideal world, transparency and consent should be the preconditions: both people involved in an extramarital relationship must know that one of them (or both) is married and that they would want to stay that way making this new relationship always secondary. There should be these predefined rules like we have on Gleeden: a dating app devoted to extramarital dating, where conditions and expectations are all in the “open”. The intent is clear and there is no room for misinterpretation. This doesn’t happen on traditional dating apps, where one can pretend to be single and easily lie to their dates about the marital status and real intent of that encounter.”
The success of Gleeden and the change in mindset for many married and unmarried people have brought a new light to how Indians view romantic relationships now and in the years to come.