“How could you do this? To me? To us? We are getting married,” he yelled at her, with tears in his eyes. She stood there shaking with the word ‘cheater’ resonating in her mind. She cheated on him and he found out. Their marriage was five months away. Sujatha, the villain of the story, says her brief infidelity was a reaction to a string of mails that she chanced upon in her former fiance’s Gmail account.
“He was in touch with his ex-flame. Though there was nothing sleazy about their interaction, I could see the emotional connect he had with her. She was acting as his emotional support – shouldn’t that place be for me, considering we were engaged?” she questions.
Sujatha says the anger at having being sidelined made her a rebel and she ended up having a fling on Facebook. “I was angry that he was sharing a part of himself with another woman – it was nothing physical but I felt betrayed nevertheless,” she reminiscences and adds, “Looking back, I feel guilty. But I realise, at that moment both of us were hurt and neither could comfort or provide solace to the other.”
Nearly three years ago, Sujatha had felt hurt and betrayed and sought solace in a fling on a social networking site. But she is not an isolated case. Single, about-to-be hitched and even married people claim that they have clicked with others over internet. But did these hit-it-off-incidents develop ever to an extent that they were tempted to cheat on their partners? Did they do it only out of fun or was it because the internet gives its users impunity?
32-year-old Abid a caring husband and a doting father to their six-year-old daughter, had his first affair in marriage soon after their daughter was born. “I was stressed, my wife was too busy taking care of our baby and I felt left out. But admitting this made me feel like an attention-seeking teenager. I started spending long hours at work and got involved with an employee,” he shares. While his revelry lasted six months, his married life got back on track a few months later.“In retrospection, I feel that the no-strings-attached relationship did a lot of good to my marriage. It re-ignited the spark in me,” he adds thoughtfully.
But not everyone who wants to have some fun is as daring. With Facebook, Tinder, Craiglist and their likes, there is no need take the risk of eyeing the next-door-neighbour or new colleague.
29-year-old Manish agrees. A well paying job that requires a lot of travelling, keeps him away from home. He also has quite a lot of free time at his disposal, that Tinder and Facebook fill in. “I have exchanged emails and photos with several women but haven’t met anyone. Since my wife and I both are involved in our careers, and don’t have children, I use these sites for fun,” he explains and adds vehemently that since he hasn’t actually been around with anyone except his wife, he doesn’t consider himself an infidel.
And would his wife too think so? “When you are taking big risks you need to be a cautious. For instance, I ensure that I have cleared all cookies before shutting my laptop. I also keep changing my passwords from time to time and give out private information on new services or apps if their site is encrypted using https,” Manish quips.
Looks like the rise of Ashley Madison and its philosophy of “Life is short. Have an affair” seems to have had more impact on adulterers than the fear of damage likely to be caused by its hack. (Names have been changed to protect identity)