extra marital affairs

The Inside Story of Flings and Fantasies in Indian Society

A survey conducted by a French extra marital dating app, Gleeden, has challenged the conventional beliefs of the largely monogamous Indian society. It concluded and quoted that, “60% married Indians are looking to swing, dream, date out of marriage.

Now, I wasn’t surprised at this conclusion. However, a comment on the article left me rollicking. It said the survey is completely false because the figure of 60% is misleading, in truth it is 90%. Now, 90% may be an exaggeration but not all that incredulous after all. However, beyond these numbers, I found the report highly superficial and deficient in making any relevant commentary on relationships or cultural trends as it stated out to be.

After reading Gleeden’s survey and its reportage, I had several questions spluttering in my wok-head which of course the article didn’t answer. It was a purely marketing and advertising stint. The sole motive was to tell you in no uncertain terms that feel free to extend the boundaries of your fidelity and monogamy because we are here to support and enable your fantasises. And of course, do not chide yourself or go on a guilt trip because you are not alone.

Nevertheless, I speculated upon my own questions through a personal compass. If we were to understand the socio-cultural change of our monogamous society, the most primary question to ask would be, “What is the reason behind this huge shift in our traditional position with respect to marriage and monogamy?”  Incompatible and unhappy marriages are a highly plausible reason to establish relationships or connects outside marriage. It was only rational to ask the respondents if they were sailing in such rocky boats and hence, looking for an anchor in extra marital affairs or dating? Gleeden had no purpose or intention to study this and so, it was either conveniently omitted from being asked or being mentioned.

Lack of compatibility, intimacy, high levels of stress, intolerance within existing relationships all contribute and push people to find others to fill that vacuum, loneliness and lovelessness. But it would be very naïve and illusionary to believe that this is the only reason for partners to have coquettish fantasies of others.

Married men and women dreaming, flirting, fantasising, or dating others are not all unhappy. They are quite settled, comfortable and happy in their matrimonial worlds. So, then it stands to reason that this tectonic socio-cultural relationship shift is because of a very different story. The story that begins at us becoming wanton and voracious consumers and pleasure seekers. No one gets excited seeing the same Louis Vuitton adorning their cupboard. Thus, the desire to own a new Chanel.   

Ever since the advent of mankind we have looked for an adrenaline rush that comes from all sorts of acts and sources. Proximity, connect or intimacy with another human being is one such very potent source. Technology, liberal laws, and new-age relationship models have made it easier and accessible to exploit this source uninhibited. And that’s precisely what we are doing.

In a hyper capitalist and consumerist society, everything is supplied and consumed with an insatiable gluttony irrespective of it’s need. And we are at the peak of a “want-driven” society instead of “need-based’. So, today relationships are no different than owning an extra handbag or an extra pair of shoes. Deep down they work on the same principle, only the stakes are different. What Gleeden’s survey really implies is that we are looking to consume more sexual and emotional pleasures that come from having an extra person in our life. We are consumers of relationships and Gleeden and the likes are the providers. Between them and us we are chasing a craving, a craving for dopamine-heavy passion deluge that comes from another being.

What’s more interesting is how does a craving become a national or global fad. My analogy might sound very anti-sentimental but it’s quite cogent in my opinion. Let’s say a few influencers or models wore a hip co-ord set and found the look very flattering. Soon more people tried it and basked in its chic appeal. Before you knew, almost every shopper wanted to possess one of it despite the existing plethora. Simultaneously, every apparel retailer wanted to sell it in the most versatile styles to suit every consumer.

The story of extra marital affairs, or flirting and dating outside marriage is not very different. Historically, a few men and women always had it while others judged from a distance. However, allured by the joys of it some more experienced it with stealth while others felt a huge potential of gratification in it. In a matter of time, we now have a market set-up for buying and selling relationships of all kinds packed under various terminologies for this amorous experience.  

Does this new cultural, non-monogamous relationship shift make us an immoral and debauched generation who wants to indulge in a forbidden game? Personally, it is not a question of morality in terms of sexual fidelity but a question of greed in terms of personal gratification that I would consider. Twenty years ago, I wouldn’t have imagined buying relationship subscriptions online. And yet, here we are which raises more questions on our mentality than our loyalty.

Any affair or extra marital affair does not work on sexual drive alone whether it is through an app or organic.  It is the exciting alchemy of lust and love, of body and mind that gives the sensational surge to the players in a relationship. For some the dopamine spike comes from hearing the cooing of love while for some it comes from the making of love. But at the end, it is all for the same reason that you consume an extra outfit, or a beer, or an emotion or a body, each giving a different degree of pleasure.

These days, we love more of everything from hand creams to content to relationships. But the more of everything comes with a price of clutter – a clutter of emotions, attachments and desires. In time, we’ll probably adapt to the Zen minimalism when the overdose of dopamine may be unbearable or unattainable. Till then, an objective introspection of our consumptive levels in every sphere might set a completely new socio-cultural trend in motion, including relationships.

~Radhika Mimani  

Photo by  Anastasia  Shuraeva: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-and-woman-lying-on-bed-4406634/

One comment on “The Inside Story of Flings and Fantasies in Indian Society

  • Raj , Direct link to comment

    Hi Radhika,
    As always you have tackled a complex subject with sensitivity and objectivity. Your assessment of the increasing trend of extra marital flings is bang on the target. As a society we are at peak of consumerism and materialism , coupled with changing social values the desire to have the best of both the worlds is leading more people to turn towards trying their luck at polyamory , Infact a recent documentary on the subject has vividly captured this phenomenon .
    A very interesting read as always, your nuanced and balanced views are a treat to read and ofcourse very educative ..

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