scorecardEverything to know about Gleeden, the extra-marital dating app where 20% users are Indians
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Everything to know about Gleeden, the extra-marital dating app where 20% users are Indians

Everything to know about Gleeden, the extra-marital dating app where 20% users are Indians
IndiaIndia4 min read
  • France-based extramarital dating app Gleeden claimed 20% of its 10 million users were from India.
  • The number of Indians on the app increased by 11% from September 2022.
  • As of 2018, India ranked 10th among 53 countries in members on Ashley Madison – a Canadian extramarital dating app.
It’s been decades since Woody Allen’s Vicky Christina Barcelona hit the theatres, ruffled feathers and raised eyebrows — and centuries since the French came up with ménage à trois. Now, of course, throuples and open marriages have become frequent if not common, showing that modern love can and does traverse beyond the boundaries that traditional marriage sets.

India too seems to, at least unofficially, be taking the not-so-off-beaten path. According to multiple reports, there are as many as 2 million Indian users on the France-based extramarital dating app, Gleeden — that’s 20% of its 10 million users. The post-pandemic effect has also done wonders for the traffic as the number of Indian users increased in January 2023 by 11% from September 2022.

The app which launched in 2009, appeared in the Indian market in 2017. This was just a year before the Supreme Court scrapped section 497 and ruled that adultery was no longer a crime. It however did say that it’s a civil offense that could be grounds for divorce. The five-judge Constitution Bench stated that the colonial-era law is unconstitutional and discriminatory against women.

At the time, Gleeden already had 3.5 lakh Indian users, with Mumbai, New Delhi, and Bengaluru emerging as the top cities. In 2023, the number stands at 20 lakh. Gleeden reported that 66% of the new users on the app came from tier-1 cities, with the rest from tier-2 and tier-3 cities.

So why extra-marital affairs?

Gleeden did a survey in 2022 to understand infidelity. The most common reason for it is boredom (63%). A distant second is the naturalization of infidelity (20%), partner conflicts (10%), and falling in love with a third person (8%).

Dr Mimansa Singh Tanwar, lead clinical psychologist, Fortis Hospitals Bangalore told Business Insider India that different reasons could drive people to pursue an extramarital relationship.

According to her, the most common reason is “a difficult or struggling marriage, with increasingly dysfunctional communication patterns that lead to lack of communication, a greater sense of physical or emotional dissatisfaction, or the inability to develop a sense of connection with a spouse.”

Kelly Campbell, Ph.D., professor of psychology at California State University, San Bernardino said, “Researchers find that partnerships characterized by dissatisfaction, unfulfilling sex, and high conflict are at higher risk for infidelity. The more dissimilar partners are—in terms of personality, education level, and other factors—the more likely they are to experience infidelity."

In a world where dating mostly takes place online, even extramarital affairs are not left to chance encounters. People go seeking love or excitement beyond their marriage in a seemingly safe space – which apps like Gleeden claim to offer.

An affair that an app remembers…

Available in over 150 countries, Gleeden positions itself as a “dating site for discreet encounters for married individuals”. Its four pillars of quality are stated as security, anonymity, quality, and freedom. The site claims to have moderators operating 24x7 to investigate fake profiles, and/or indecent and provocative chats and photos.

However, there are much more provocative sites like Ashley Madison, a Canadian site that claims to offer ‘married dating’. Its slogan is, “Life is short. Have an affair.”

Dr Tanwar says that there could be instances when people seek out an affair, even when things are going okay in their relationship, especially when what we see around us normalizes the idea of an affair. The rising number of apps, be it Madison,, HushAffair, show a sense of push factor for those who want to try it.

Even before Madison came under hackers’ lens in 2015, it has been accused of many questionable practices. Madison is known to ‘not allow’ users to delete their accounts, and promote fake accounts. After Madison’s data leak, reports surfaced of users being threatened with extortion.

An analysis of the leaked data also revealed that only three in every 10,000 Ashley Madison members were real women, exposing the widespread number of fake female accounts on the website. And yet, as of 2018, India ranked 10th among 53 countries in membership on Ashley Madison.

While most affairs in general carry a risk, an app and an online trail make it riskier. In addition, experts also say that extra-marital affairs are heavy on the heart, no matter how breezy they may appear to be.

“Even if you’re seeking thrill, excitement, or happiness, and whether it’s short-lived or happens multiple times, it will impact the individual - because of the juggling one has to do. The fact that you have to balance something outside of your work and family tends to create stress and anxiety. And that’s something we tend to overlook when getting into these affairs because it’s giving you a thrill, adventure, or momentary happiness,” added Dr Tanwar.

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