Online dating in India is gradually deviating from the mainstream, with sugar babies waiting to be ‘leashed & collared’ and bisexual couples seeking threesomes.

New Delhi: Twenty-two-year-old Udita Pal’s career prospects were bleak after she quit her marketing job. Around that time, she met a 40-something executive at a multi-national company who looked uncannily like George Clooney. She kept running into him till they became acquainted, and Udita confided in him about her financial problems.

“You are smart, beautiful, and in need of money. You would make a perfect sugar baby. Can I be your sugar daddy?” he asked Udita, revealing his desire to engage in a BDSM relationship.

This was when he introduced Udita to seeking.com, the world’s largest site for sugar relationships, founded in 2006 by MIT alumnus Brandon Wade. According to a Forbes report, the website earns at least $30-40 million every year.


Also read: Indian women are getting assaulted on Tinder dates and no one knows how to stop it


Money, money, money

A sugar relationship is an arrangement between a wealthy, older sugar daddy (or mommy) and a decade(s)-younger, financially-needy sugar baby. Allowances and lavish gifts are exchanged for the company of youth and intimate sexual favours.

“In fact, the site is full of sugar babies willing to be leashed, collared and humiliated in exchange for Rs 20,000 per session and an allowance of Rs 35,000 a month,” said Udita.

Having logged into Seeking, ThePrint found annual income to be the most important criteria to judge sugar daddy profiles. Most of the sugar daddies in India have a net worth ranging between $100,000 (Rs 70 lakh approx) and $10 million (Rs 70 crore). Strangely, a lot of sugar daddies are quite young – between 28 and 39 – and most of them come from business backgrounds, a few being in executive positions in MNCs.

Screenshot of the homepage of Seeking.com

Most of them blocked ThePrint reporters after they were approached for this article. But some of them revealed the darker side of extortion on the website.

“I joined Seeking because I wanted to make friends based on mutual interest and respect,” said the 55-year-old CEO of an IT company in Bengaluru. “I met some genuine girls here, with whom I’m still friends. But 95 per cent of the profiles are scams. There are also some escorts. They keep messaging me with hourly rates and fees. It is quite vulgar and cheap.”

The CEO’s profile mentions that he has a Ph.D., a net worth of $2 million and an income of $1 million.

“I don’t mind buying gifts and paying for luxury getaways. But I can’t follow some rate card. It makes me feel like a customer,” he said.

 

Screenshot of a conversation on Seeking.com

Ambition fuels sugar babies

Sugar babies who join the community for all sorts of reasons are judged on the basis of their attractiveness.

“A prospective sugar daddy was willing to offer me Rs 10,000 based on the attractiveness of my body,” a 22-year-old college graduate from Bengaluru, who joined the site to raise funds for a lavish 23rd birthday, told ThePrint.

There are perks to this arrangement. Sugar babies take expensive trips to Goa and use their sugar daddies’ credit cards, spending up to a lakh per night.

Consultant psychologist Dr Nisha Khanna says such relationships reflect how “ambitious” the younger generation is.

“They want to achieve things quickly. These sugar relationships are short-lived, temporary and easier ways of fulfilling quick aspirations,” Khanna said.

However, a sugar relationship is not always luxurious or romantic.

Most sugar daddies are married with children. They use these apps to fulfil fetishes which their wives would not approve of.

“They often make creepy requests. One of them sent me his credit card number and asked me for a BDSM arrangement. Some even ask for nude pictures offering Rs 100-200 per picture,” said the Bengaluru-based college graduate.

Comfort in extramarital affairs

When a bi-curious IT engineer came out to his wife, her world fell apart. She almost quit her teaching job till she was informed by a colleague about Gleeden.com. Before this, she had tried everything, from Tinder to weekend sessions with her marriage counsellor. Nothing worked.

“It finally helped me overcome my anxiety issues. At that point, I just needed a friend to share my trauma with,” she told ThePrint. In time, she met someone who later became her lover, and helped her cope better.

Gleeden, a French dating site, entices men and women all over the world to seek comfort in extramarital affairs. Initially designed to accommodate wives seeking affairs, the site offers free sign-up for women whereas men have to pay.

Screenshot of the Gleeden homepage

“When we launched the app in India last year, we had around 1.2 lakh Indian users. Today, we have 5 lakh users in – around 85,000 in Bengaluru, 140,000 in Mumbai and 110,000 in Delhi,” said Paillet.

“It has been a 317 per cent growth in less than one year. This proves that people really needed such a platform.”

When ThePrint logged into Gleeden, there was an overwhelming response from the members.

There were men who had drifted away from their wives and women who wanted to experiment with their sexuality. Some users just wanted meaningful conversations and emotional attachment.

“I got to know about Gleeden from an online article. When I got a membership, I was not looking for sex. I wanted some good conversation,” a male finance executive told ThePrint.

Screenshot of the conversation

A 33-year-old Pune-based homemaker, married for 10 years, says she joined the community out of boredom. She is bisexual, but was coerced into a heterosexual marriage.

“I am here for adventure. I am open to new and exciting things. When you are bisexual and married for 10 years, you realise what is missing,” she said.

Screenshot of the conversation

Consultant psychologist Nilanjana Chatterjee Chakraborty is of the opinion that all this is happening because moral values have changed in Indian society.

“Guilt is absent because media promotes extramarital affairs more than anything. Human beings tend to believe and internalise what they see on television, in movies and on social networking sites,” she says.


Also read: What Tinder is doing to India’s mating habits


Honesty with partners

There are also users who claim they are completely honest with their partners about seeking matches on these dating apps.

A 37-year-old BPO employee from Kolkata said she told her husband upfront when she signed up for Gleeden.

“I don’t feel guilty if I cheat on my husband with a woman. In fact, at times, I have persuaded women to join us for threesomes,” she said.

“He has always been supportive of my sexual experiments. There is no question of leaving my husband or lying to him.”

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