By Sourajit Aiyer
Surveys will have some sample-set bias, but certain numbers can still give a clue to how big the institution of arranged marriage is in India. Recently, an NDTV survey showed that 74% of Indians preferred arranged marriages. However, preferences need not always mean success. Gleeden is an online dating platform with the tagline, ‘the first extramarital dating site made by women.’ While dating apps in India target singles, Gleeden targets married people and it recently launched an India-specific strategy.
It has already reached approximately 1,20,000 users in India. Because its Indian subscribers initially grew without any marketing whatsoever, it is only now that Gleeden is looking at advertising. This growth makes an admirable case-study.
An insight into the Indian marital culture
There is nothing new about the lack of compatibility in many marriages around us that creates an unfulfilled desire to find excitement and happiness. In an interview, Gleeden’s head of communications said, ‘When you are married for a few years, you need some excitement which people are now finding online. Gleeden does not interfere with the institution of marriage but creates a secure and anonymous space for people seeking affairs outside of their relationships.’
Arranged marriages in India are often associated with higher success rates. This is because the process evaluates various compatibility factors along with socio-economic and familial parameters. They are unlike love marriages, where emotions often render people blind to such practicalities. While it is not written that Gleeden’s 1,20,000 subscribers have had arranged marriages, one assumes that they would make a reasonable share considering the results of the above-mentioned surveys.
However, marriages have been far from perfect for many, despite being a national obsession. Separation is still a taboo in many families but the desire to find excitement and happiness remains–even if it is for a short-term. This site gives individuals a chance to fill that gap and the pace of registration indicates that some are already trying. All this highlights what most Indians already know–that the traditional Indian society prefers not to talk about marriages openly.
Gleeden: A prospective saviour?
Coincidentally, of Gleeden’s 1,20,000 Indian subscribers, 75% are men. The Hindustan Times had conducted an experiment where it had created two profiles–a 30-year male and a 30-year female. The female profile received huge interest while the male profile was hardly attended to. The female profile’s male respondents were mostly in their 40’s and shared reasons like boredom. Quick gratification seemed to be on the minds of most, as they wanted to meet at the earliest rather than interacting first for some time. Again, all this may not necessarily indicate an unhappy marriage. However, it makes it worse for those happy marriages where the husband is a subscriber.
Assuming few of these subscribers to be arranged marriage cases, it is also not encouraging to note that the evaluation process of arranged marriages can end up matching two partners–one of whom could be a subscriber. Meanwhile, the relative lack of traffic from Indian women subscribers on Gleeden shows that they are yet to open up to alternatives. The incorporation of relevant features on Gleeden, like allowing women to rate male members, should give women more comfort to register.
Subscription alongside cultural anecdotes
Compatibility, fulfilment and perversion apart, a desire to save the marriage might also explain part of the traffic. This may sound like a paradox but the argument still holds. Anecdotes amongst married Indian couples about unhappy relationships, often create a mental bias and this block reduces the motivation to improve the relationship. This is in line with the recent spike in divorce rates in India since it is easier to give up than to make that effort. While some cases may be genuinely unsolvable, some may be difficult due to this mental block.
What if a short-term extra-marital relationship can help save that marriage? This is because an external catalyst can create a positive stimulus by providing confidence and a fresh outlook to a person. That can help overcome the mental block and give renewed energy for the improvement of the original relationship. While the topic of infidelity may be ammunition for the Indian moral brigade, it will be hard to believe it did not exist. As per a survey, 76% of Indian women and 61% of Indian men had no issues going extra-marital. People just didn’t talk about it openly. Neither had the proposition of an extra-marital affair saving a marriage ever been considered.
Getting to talk to someone may be the catalyst. Feeling loved again may be the catalyst. Realising that one’s spouse wasn’t so relatively bad, reviving feelings of intimacy, realising life is not all black, getting a friend may all be contributors towards sanguinity. This short-term alternative may just be a medium for individuals to view their original relationships with positivism.
Sourajit Aiyer is the author of 2 books and has written for 38 publications based in 13 countries.
This article was originally published in Youth Ki Awaaz
Featured image credits: Flickr
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