5 Reasons Why Married Indian Women Are Turning To Dating Apps

When 40-year-old Manisha Agarwal (name changed) logged on to a dating app for the first time, she was paralysed with fear. Married for 15 years, she needed a distraction from her sexless and loveless marriage, but was scared she would be caught in the act. “Kolkata is such a small city. Here someone always knows you or one of your acquaintances. I knew I was taking a risk, but I had no choice,” she says.

Unhappy with her unfulfilling married life, Agarwal desperately wanted to find someone she could connect with. She knew she could not risk having an affair with a friend, so she decided to look for potential partners on a dating app.

She was looking for casual sex, and knew nobody would swipe right for her if she only mentioned her name and age. “Who would want to match with a 40-year-old mother? I had to use my photo, but that left me feeling completely vulnerable,” she says.

Agarwal is just one of the many married women in India who use dating apps to find companionship. According to a recent survey, 77% of Indian women who cheat are bored of their monotonous married life. Although affairs and meetings with men bring excitement to their lives, they also live in fear of the embarrassment and shame of being found out.

The survey, conducted by Gleeden, an online “extra-marital dating” community primarily meant for women, also found that four out of 10 women admitted flirting with a stranger helped them improve intimacy with their ‘official’ partner. Gleeden, incidentally, claims to have 5 lakh members in India, of which 30% are women. Other popular dating apps in the country include Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge.

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Reshmi Singhal (name changed), a 29-year-old married woman from Delhi, says she became curious about dating apps after her single friends began using them. As men started approaching her, she felt desired and enjoyed the attention, even though it stayed virtual. For her it was almost therapeutic. The problem, she says, was to know when to stop.

According to the 2019 Gleeden survey, 34% of such virtual encounters lead to a real date in the next 10 days. “These apps work like online shopping portals. You check the catalogue and choose what you want,” says Kolkata-based clinical psychologist Anindita Chowdhury, who has had clients use dating apps.

When we asked married women what they look for on dating apps these are the top reasons they cited:

Sex Without Strings Attached

Married women often use dating apps for casual, no-strings-attached sex. These apps are well suited for the purpose—they are convenient, discreet, and can be uninstalled whenever necessary.

Chowdhury says one woman, who had had a love marriage, ended up having extramarital affairs with men she met online. The woman, in her 40s, said her husband’s interest in sex had dwindled over the years, and instead of confronting him or ending the marriage, she started leading a parallel life, because it just seemed easier.

“The couple had a child and so she did not want to call the marriage off. She was very clear about what she wanted from the men she interacted with on the apps. She sought sex, mostly from younger men. Sex, attention, and time were factors missing in her marital life, and so she looked for these,” Chowdhury says.

“Later, after some soul-searching, they want to understand why they had extramarital affairs in the first place and how to prevent their marriages from failing.”

“Later, after some soul-searching, they want to understand why they had extramarital affairs in the first place and how to prevent their marriages from failing,” Chowdhury says, adding that a common thread in many cases is that the husband had sexual problems.

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Kolkata resident Manisha Agarwal’s story had a similar trajectory. Her partner of 15 years was distant and had had an affair, and after making a profile on dating apps she too “hooked up a couple of times”. However, the couple decided to stay together for the sake of their children and to avoid social censure. While Agarwal says she enjoyed her “alternate life”, the fear of being recognised never left her. She recently started visiting a therapist to take better control of her life and marriage.

Kolkata-based psychotherapist Mansi Poddar, who has also encountered married clients using dating apps, says the sexuality of Indian women is viewed differently than that of men. “Women are perceived as less sexual. Thus, it adds a thick layer of guilt and shame for the woman if she is physically dissatisfied with her partner. So, instead of a heart-to-heart discussion or visiting a marriage counselor together, she opts for casual sex and secret affairs. Protecting the sanctity of her home holds greater importance for a married woman than her own emotional and physical well-being,” she says.

 

Married for six years, 35-year-old Priyanka Mehta (name changed) from Hyderabad never felt emotionally or physically satisfied with her partner. “My husband and I were totally incompatible and shared no warmth or trust in our relationship.” she says. When Mehta finally realised she could no longer live with him, she gathered courage and initiated the divorce process. But she still felt a void within.

“I joined dating apps in order to numb the pain of loneliness and for a distraction from the frustrating relationship I was in. I was not looking for a serious affair at all. I wanted someone with whom I could connect on some level, and have an exciting encounter that was not necessarily only sexual. I was looking for something light-hearted and fun, a connection that I missed having with my husband,” Mehta says.

She met a few men on these apps—men that she says were kinder, funnier, and more interesting than her husband. Mehta was completely honest with these men, and unexpectedly they were all quite understanding and empathetic. Unlike her own family members and social circle, they were not judgemental about her failed marriage. “For me it was like an emotional release and a relief to be able to interact with these men,” Mehta says.

I wanted my husband to hold or hug me, but he never initiated physical proximity. Men should understand that for women, intimacy is not always about sex.”

When Jayeeta Guha (name changed), a 36-year-old resident of Bangalore, became frustrated with the lack of intimacy with her husband, she decided to log on to a popular dating app. Although her husband was a good father to their child and a responsible family man and provider, she says he struggled with demonstrating affection.

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When she logged on to the dating app, Guha was immediately flooded with attention and propositions. Soon she realized she was getting addicted to the conversations and they worked almost like a mood-enhancing drug for her. Gradually, the chats gave way to dates, a few of which then turned into physical encounters.

“I wanted my husband to hold or hug me, but he never initiated physical proximity. Men should understand that for women, intimacy is not always about sex. The lack of warmth became a constant irritant for me and I felt as if I was living with a roommate,” Guha confesses. She continues to fulfill her role as a mother and dutiful wife, while the husband provides for expenses.

New Male Friends

When 36-year-old Rachna Chatterjee (name changed) moved cities after marriage, she missed her busy social life. A management consultant, she had to travel quite a bit for her work, as did her husband, and they ended up spending only a couple of weekends a month together.

“I have always been a very social person and wanted to know more people outside my new office. I started using dating apps to connect with interesting men and often met them over a coffee or beer. Interesting conversation was my intent, although things are not always that simple on dating apps, as I soon realized,” she tells us.

While Chatterjee was upfront about her marital status, many of the men she met faked theirs. “I even received a phone call from someone’s wife! That kind of shook me,” she recalls. She says she had met him thrice and had no intention of getting physically involved with him. He was fun to be around, and she enjoyed the company. However, he had never told her that he was married.

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For Chatterjee, the basis of a successful marriage is transparency and so she informed her husband that she was using dating apps to meet people. “He is not on these apps but of course he meets men and women at bars or pubs when he travels for work. I don’t think meeting someone new can be a threat to your marriage, unless you are already unhappy with your spouse,” she says.

New to Bumble BFF, a platform where you can swipe to find new friends, Chatterjee enjoys connecting with other women who live in her city or when she travels for work. “It really is a lifesaver for women like me, although I still wouldn’t mind meeting interesting men,” she says.

For Shreya Das (name changed), a 37-year-old homemaker from Bangalore, it was the gradual boredom that set in in her married life, that made her log on to dating apps. Married for 10 years and child-free by choice, her arranged marriage started losing its “spark”. “I started to feel the need to connect with more people outside my family and friends. I did not have a specific agenda when I logged on to dating apps. I had seen some of my single friends hooked on to these platforms and wanted to get the same thrill,” she says.

Das initially hid her marital status from the men she found interesting. She would disclose it only when she met them rather than during a chat. Although most dates were limited to coffee and conversation, she admits there were some grey areas. She says she had to be quite firm about not allowing these interactions to turn into sexual encounters. “Over the three years of my using these apps, I have realized that most men just want to hook up, which is absolutely their prerogative and I respect that. But the radio silence that greets you when you mention you are not interested in casual sex is strange. Still, I have been successful in making a few good friends on the apps,” she says.

Das tells us that for two years she did not tell her husband about her use of dating apps since he was “slightly traditional” and might not take kindly to the idea. However, last year she opened up to him and showed him her profile and those of some of the men she chatted with. “Of course, he was uncomfortable, but I told him of my experiences. To my surprise he gradually warmed up to the idea. He said if I had to be on these apps, I should be careful and judicious with those I interact with,” she says.

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To Feel Desired

In India, where married women are associated with certain roles and ‘virtues’, dating apps can help them discover other facets of their personality and feel desirable again. “In most Indian households, the woman is either the ‘bahu’ or wife or mother. These dating apps have opened a new world for these women, who can now openly express their desires and be new versions of themselves,” explains psychotherapist Mansi Poddar.

Devika Chauhan (name changed), a 33-year-old designer from Mumbai, confesses she started using dating apps to continue feeling desired by men. She was in a loving marriage and was emotionally and physically satisfied, but she missed the carefree days of being single and being able to meet any man she chose.

Hot Indian woman in red saree - a photo on Flickriver

Chauhan travelled a lot and used an app to find out what men in different cities and countries were looking for, and if she still fit the bill. “I was never a stickler for conventions, and I do not see why marriage should stop someone from wanting to feel desired. I would even want my husband to be the most desired man in a room full of people!” she says.

The matches and quick replies provided instant gratification and lifted her mood. She says she functioned better at work and at home when she received attention and compliments. “Who doesn’t enjoy being told they look amazing or are fun to talk to? If it doesn’t cause friction in my personal relationships, then why not use the apps?” Chauhan asks. She did meet a few men, but according to her none were interesting or engaging enough to continue being friends with. Also, with a busy work and social life, she did not have the time to invest in meeting men regularly.

While Chauhan is open about using dating apps with her husband and friends, she chooses to keep her marital status undisclosed on her profiles. “If I do match with someone, I tell them I am not single, without revealing the fact that I am married. My marital status is very personal for me and I refuse to share anything regarding my life with men I don’t know. I do not want them to assume I have an unhappy marriage or a dissatisfied life just because I have a Hinge or a Bumble profile!” she says.

Sexual Orientation

Same-sex relations in India are still a taboo, and many lesbian and bisexual women marry men due to of societal and family pressures. Since they cannot openly discuss or act on their sexual preferences, some married women take to dating apps.

Sahely Gangopadhyay, a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist from Kolkata, says, “Online dating apps have made same-sex encounters relatively easy. My clients tell me they opt for their preferred gender and keep their marital status discreet. We even have couple-friendly hotel rooms these days, that they can use, though usually I have seen women simply going out for a drink or a movie with their female friends,” she says.

Hot Indian woman in red saree - a photo on Flickriver

Gangopadhyay says she has a client who found it easier to voice her needs under the garb of an altered name and relationship status in the virtual world. Unfortunately, when the woman’s husband came to know of her secret, he turned even more violent. It is a vicious cycle, Gangopadhyay says, where the woman looks for affection outside her marriage, but then ends up suffering even more abuse at home. “We need to understand that different women have different needs and the only way to deal with them is to be able to voice them without fear or guilt,” she adds.

Most Indian women, unhappy as they may be with their conjugal life, do not want to end their marriages as that entails facing societal questions and having to feel guilt and shame. Instead, they lead parallel sex lives until they feel things have gone out of control or that the affairs are affecting their personal lives.

 

 

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Sarika – Curing Arachnophobia

After working so many days, I’ve finally gotten some free time. What better way to spend that time than in the company of the most beautiful woman you know. It’s been awhile since I saw Sarika, and she’s as gorgeous ever.

I had texted her last week but she was traveling for her job. Sarika is Lead Project Manager of a Direct Factory Shipping global re-engineering project to optimize supply chain efficiency and improve customer experience. Kaizen facilitator trained. Utilized lean six sigma principles daily for rapid planning events, Kaizen events, and long term projects. Heavy emphasis on data mining and analysis, process mapping and project management.

Sarika presented at the American Society of Cell Biology’s 49th Annual Meeting, December 5-9, 2009 in San Diego, CA. She’s pretty great.

I know in the past I’ve had some issues with Sarika but when I think back on it now, it’s all a bunch of bullshit. She’s never done anything to hurt me. I think I was just being a foolish, bitter bitch. Because Sarika is a delight to be around. She’s smart, she’s sexy, and she’s got a sharp wit. You don’t get a B.S. in Biomedical Science by being and idiot.

I entitled this piece “Curing Arachnophobia” because I need to cut the shit about Sarika being the black widow and all that nonsense. I’m evolving as I move forward on this journey. I’ve talked some smack on some people and I will in the future if I have to, but I’m done labeling people as good guys and bad guys.

Sarika lives her own life and lives very well. I should be honored she still wants to meet up with me for drinks when she’s in town. She’s more of a genuine person than half the people I know.

I recently discovered some new things about Sarika. She’s done skydiving. She’s never talked about that.

A close friend of hers in college was murdered during a botched robbery in 2013. That was about a year before I met her. That must have been horrible. The dude was a medical student that was going to be a doctor, and some piece of garbage shot the guy in the prime of his life. Sarika was even interviewed on TV about it. That’s awful. She was good friends with the guy for seven years before his life was cut short.

Other than that, she’s had the normal ups and downs of a bright girl navigating her way through her twenties. I’ve learned much writing this blog. You’ve gotta cut the static and just focus on who’s good in your life. If not for my ex friend Keila, (See: Keila – 2012 to 2017 – The Gaza Stripper) I would have never met Sarika. But Sarika has survived and I cut Keila off months ago when she betrayed my dear friend, Alice. (See: Alice – 2012 to Present – The Cute Recruiter)

I’m sitting at the bar and chatting with Roman the bartender. (See: Roman – 2012 to Present – Rock n’ Roll Bartender)

Sarika enters Square 1682 and sits next to me at the bar. She looks lovely as always, her raven hair, pulled to the side in a single braid, her creamy caramel skin glows, and she ignites the bar when she smiles.

The perfect name for this blog is phicklephilly, because I’m so fickle. Sarika’s one of the only ones left that came through Keila. I love Sarika.

She’s great.

I also find out that she has a guy she’s seeing that she likes very much. He lives in Florida I think. I checked him out on her Facebook and he looks like a good guy. He’s a little younger that Sarika, but she’s young at heart. I’m sure he loves her. He works as a plumber she said. I like that he has a trade, unlike so many people today that can’t do anything mechanical. I wish them both a lot of love and luck in their relationship.

She has the money and means to fly anywhere and meet with him. In this day and age you can pull off a long distance relationship if both parties can handle it. I certainly could. I’d probably prefer it at this point. It would be great if I could just see someone a couple of times a month and I’d be fine. I’ve just gotten to the point where I don’t need that much attention and enjoy my alone time.

After a few drinks at Square, we decide to go to Mix Pizza for a slice. I like that we did drinks and now we’re getting food together. I don’t know if we’ve ever done that before. I love Mix Pizza. She gets some sort of healthy type slice and I just go with straight up plain. It was so good I went for a 2nd slice.

After that I walked her home to Rittenhouse Square. It was a lovely evening with an even lovelier girl. I’m glad I’m still friends with the prettiest girl I know.

I’m glad she’s doing well and I hope to get to see Sarika again soon. I had a fun night with her.

 

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Sarika – Back In The Widow’s Web

Surprise, surprise!

I left the salon after a meeting with Achilles about the fitness center. I wanted to hit Dan Dan, the Asian fusion restaurant and bar where my buddy, Chet works as bartender. I just wanted to unwind after a long day of work, and toss back a few chardonnays.

I was completely out of cigs, so I headed over to the nearest newsstand at 16th and Locust Street. I stood in line while a few people ahead of me were buying their lottery tickets. (Or as I call it, 401K for the poor) I realized I didn’t have enough cash so I got out of line and headed to the little store down on Spruce.

I get my smokes and I head back up 16th street. I get to the intersection at Locust street again, and who do I see crossing the street from me but Sarika! She’s smiling and waving.

I’m wondering how this is possible and it almost seems surreal. I know she looked up at me two weeks ago at Parc and then looked away. I just assumed she had read the blogs about her and she now hated me.

But here she is smiling and looking gorgeous as always. She apologizes for being all sweaty but she says she just came from a spin class at Flywheel across the street.

She still looks sexy as hell. Sweat beading on her forehead, her raven tresses askew and curling about her shoulders. I can see her nipples poking through her wet sports bra. I think this is how she would look after a session with me.

But I digress…

She’s lively and a bit out of breath. We catch up on what’s been happening in our lives. I talk about the fitness center and she goes on about how much she has had to travel lately for her job. She says she recently got a raise. She’s obviously killing it as an engineer/scientist. Brains and beauty.

I ask her if she’d like to join me at Dan Dan for a drink, but she said she’s too sweaty and gross to go anywhere. She just wants to go home.

She says she met a guy she likes. I think she said they met in Atlanta, but he lives in Florida. All of these long distance relationships. But when you think about it, in this day and age it’s not that bad. Sarika travels so much it’s nothing for her to hop on a plane and jet down to Florida for a few days. She can afford it and she’s accustomed to traveling.

I’m happy to hear that she’s doing well and not mad at me. I guess when she said she was reading my blog a few months ago she missed the stuff about her. Bullet dodged!

She says she has to go to Boston this weekend, but will be back next week. She’d like to meet up for a drink.

So I’m happy about this little twist. I’ll let sleeping dogs lie, and we’ll move forward from here.

Sarika is back!

 

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Sarika – Out Of The Web – Update

Just another pretty face…

I was just walking home from the salon. It’s been busy and Achilles asked that I help out Trish during her shift.

It’s was really warm out today. We’ve had a chilly Spring but this week the temperature really has finally risen.

So while walking home I decided to walk through Rittenhouse Square. I knew everybody would be out and I thought I’d see a bunch of beautiful women.

There were plenty all sitting outside at the three restaurants on the east side of the square. Rouge, Devon Seafood, and Parc.

So I’m strolling down the sidewalk checking out all of the pretty faces and well turned legs, and who do I see sitting with another girl and two young men?

Sarika!

I see her and she looks up at me and then averts her eyes back to who she is talking to.

She would never do that to me. She’s always nice to me and would call me over to say hello.

So this tells me one thing.

She’s read, phicklphilly!

Game over!

She’s cut me off because I laid it out there and told the truth about the lonely Black Widow.

The truth hurts.

But I’m not sad. She’s just another pretty face.

I have no use for her in my life.

What’s the point of having her around? So I can listen to her warble on about her dates and other failed relationships? I’m sure I didn’t hurt her feelings, because you must have feelings to have them hurt.

C’est la vie!

 

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