With over 17L users, is extramarital dating app Gleeden changing the way Indians view monogamy?

The homepage of Gleeden, an extra-marital dating platform and app, shows a pretty woman biting into an apple. And, before you sign up, the app asks you to take a bite.

With “extramarital” as a sore point, the suggestiveness of the image induces a chuckle. And despite its not-so-subtle connotation of “living in sin”, the app boasts of having over 9 million users worldwide and has a presence in several countries including India.

Sybil Shiddell – Country Manager, India – Gleeden

Founded in 2009 by French brothers (whose identities are as discreet as the app claims!) Gleeden is run by 20 members all-female team moderated by Solène Paillet, Communications Director; Silvia Rubies, Country Manager, Spain and LatAm; and Sybil Shiddell, Country Manager, Italy, UK, India and Nordics.

India’s story

Gleeden was launched in India in 2017 and has seen a phenomenal increase in its user base from 8 lakh users before the pandemic to nine lakh users in two years. The male to female ratio on the app is 60:40. The app saw an 80% increase in total signups, a 40% increase in daily chats, and an 11% increase in female users.

Talk to His historySybil Shiddell, Country Manager for India, says: “When we researched the Indian market, we found it to be different from others, due to the specific cultural background unique to the country.

When the app was launched in India, the team noticed a lot of organic traffic and started paying attention to it. In 2018, when adultery was decriminalised, Sybil says, Gleeden saw a surge in users, despite India still being considered a “mainstream” society, where extramarital affairs can be frowned upon.

However, she has an interesting take on why the app is gaining popularity in India.

“Unlike in Europe, people get married young in India, and maybe after about 10 years start going their separate ways, even though they are together. Of course, they stay together for family reasons, or because divorce is expensive or separation can have a huge psychological impact, they can also be judged by family or society,” she says.

“Some people are looking for adventure outside of their relationship, and Gleeden gives those people what they need in a discreet and private environment that is also safe,” she adds.

Interestingly, while Gleeden saw a lot of traction from metropolitan cities like Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Mumbai initially, the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns shifted the narrative to Tier II and III cities.

Adding to the interesting turn of events in 2020 and 2021, Gleeden has seen more 45 percent increase in subscribers looking for gay dating via gleeden. Overall, the percentage of married subscribers in the Indian community opting for “gay” as their sexual preference is 5% (compared to 12% in the global community).

According to Sybil, data for the past two years has shown that 70% of its user base in India comes from these cities. They were mostly men and women looking to connect with others without wanting to meet in person, and the app promised them a “discreet place” to indulge in extra-marital “adventures”.

“During the pandemic, online dating and virtual flirting have become a forced substitute for real-life dating, providing people with a much sought-after outlet to let off steam during lockdown. Gleeden was no different: the way the app is built and its state-of-the-art privacy framework allowed those forced to cohabit 24/7 with their partners and families to find “time for me” to get through distress. virtual adventures and friendships and get through enforced isolation more easily,” she says.

Not your traditional dating app


A screenshot of the app

“Discreet” is the word Sybil often uses in conversation to convey that this is a safe place for women. But what about men posing as women on the app?

For starters, the price or subscription fee is a major deterrent. While the application is completely free for women, men have to pay between Rs 1,000 for 25 credits, Rs 3,000 for 100 credits and Rs 7,000 for 400 credits. Users can use credits to spend on the website for messages, start chats or send virtual gifts.

Other than that, Sybil promises a moderation team working 24/7 to make sure “there are real people behind it.”

“If, in the seduction process, when a woman discovers that she was approached by another woman, who she thought was a man, she can report the user. The moderation team, which received the last snippet of the conversation, is analyzed and if the identity is false, the member is automatically banned. Every report is investigated and no pornographic or nude images are allowed. We don’t want women to be harassed on our platform,” says Sybil. Too many complaints against a particular user also lead to their profiles being blacklisted.

Signing up to Gleeden is simple. You have to choose a nickname as an identifier and create a profile. A profile photo is not mandatory but an inspiring or creative photo (head, shoulders, eyes, mouth, etc.) can replace it. People of any sexual orientation can join the app.

The search does not work in the “traditional” direction of swiping right or left.

“Since this is an extra-marital dating app, you might not want any suitors nearby; you can look for them in your nearest town or elsewhere. You can find people you like through aesthetic or physical parameters and then start chatting. We are not a dating supermarket,” says Sybil.

She believes there are people who are happy to flirt “because they find it the best way to reaffirm that they are nice, sexy, attractive and more”.

We have testimonials from people who fell in love and ended up being a real couple because they had the courage to leave their old partners and pursue a new relationship on Gleeden. The important thing is that you don’t have to pretend to be someone else, you can say you’re married or in a relationship because it’s not a place where people will judge you. she.

A testimony shared by Butterfly27 team, a 38-year-old man from Mumbai talks about finding a new spark in life after 17 years of marriage.

“After spending 17 long years with my husband, I finally started to feel that I needed more excitement and adrenaline rush which is why I thought of joining Gleeden. I love it my family and I didn’t want to change anything about it, but I think it was a time when I really wanted to meet someone and keep it absolutely private Thanks to Gleeden, I met a very charming man and shared a relationship with him for over a year. Our memories together through the weekends and many evenings were the most beautiful experiences. Although intimacy was a very important part of our relationship, it turned out to be like a real love story, which was totally unexpected.

Sybil also points out that infidelity is a stigma all over the world and not just in India.

“We have noticed this trend in Europe, where couples, who have been together for more than 25 years, become polyamorous or have open marriages. At this point, it is no longer infidelity because both individuals are aware of what they do. Boredom and routine are what have killed marriages, sexually and psychologically. We’ve seen that introducing a third or fourth element into marriage changes the dynamic,” she says.

Sybil’s plan is to broaden the communications strategy for India, and ultimately, adds, “if the country allows us to be bolder.” It’s not easy like in Europe.