“Me too, me too, but I would never have the courage to publicly admit it like you did,” the message that popped on my screen said. I was puzzled. After years of hearing about it, I’d finally managed to start watching the TV series, House of Cards , a tightly plotted, brilliantly acted political thriller with Kevin Spacey in the lead. As the season began to hot up, I was sitting on pins, wondering what would happen next and feeling immensely sad that everyone I knew was many seasons ahead of me and not likely to be interested in a gasping conversation that would start with, “Oh my god, did you see... what do you think it means?” After all, dissecting a well-made show is one of the few joys still left in the world. “The unbearable loneliness of being a late viewer of the House of Cards ” I had posted on social media. This message popped immediately after. Much as I knew admitting being late to anything was a serious giveaway of the lack of a cool cred, I had not anticipated that this was a public shame.

“You have just started watching it too?” I asked the Facebook friend — meaning someone I have never met, but whose carefully curated online presence I’ve been witness to for at least a couple of years. There was silence. And an hour or so later, came the reply. “I didn’t see the bit about the show. I only saw ‘the unbearable loneliness.’ And much as I hate to admit it, the truth is I am very lonely”. I spent the next couple of days stalking her online. To the naked eye, her life seemed fabulous — upper middle class, two kids, photos of holidays in Spain and Sydney. Birthday cakes, cocktail parties, friends, family, every little thing that screams this person is a success, specifically, a social success. And yet, there it hung, that confession of loneliness.

This little exchange was but the latest in a series of run-ins I’ve been having with lonely women. All over urban India, it seems to me, women are struggling to live the lives they are projecting. These are not just the ones who are “obviously” lonely, as in they are not necessarily women who have been transplanted from their secure lives in small town India and brought over to the frightening city to set up their marital homes. These women are educated, they married at the “right time”, they had children before 30, some of them have quit their jobs and started their own business, some gloriously manage to have a full-fledged career and a spotless home. These are women who seemingly “have it all”. And yet, they can’t shake off the yawning emptiness inside them.

Often, modern marriage is the culprit. Behind the veneer of the perfect family is a union that is increasingly filled with silences. “We like to do our own thing,” they say, which is as much a statement of empowerment as it is one of bafflement. Perhaps it is a natural route for all partnerships, to eventually drift into a place where charitable “adjustments” to each other yield to one where the other is simply taken for granted. After 15 years of co-habitation and the stresses of rearing children, it is fairly inevitable that doing something simply because it’s “together” holds as much excitement as eating oats for breakfast. So one signs up at the local runners’ group, and the other takes salsa lessons. Even the accumulated friends over two decades, become friends of the marriage, not those of the specific individuals involved. And so a new running mate or salsa partner creeps in, splitting up the schedule just as much as they split the cocktail party into two distinct groups. “We like to do our own thing” eventually is simply a euphemism for “he doesn’t want to do my thing, and after waiting a while, I’ve decided to just go ahead myself”.

Gurgaon, where I live, is supposed to be a microcosm of everything that is wrong with urban India. And the trend among Gurgaon wives, I am told by a professional marriage counsellor, is to carry on with the personal trainer. He attributes this to convenience — the personal trainer is accessible and the barrier to physical touch is already broken. Yet, this choice is equally telling. Sure, the personal trainer is safe — he rarely moves in the same social circles as his clients and the possibility of a bust is low. The trainer, often, barely speaks any English, the language du jour of the rich Gurgaon wife. They occupy two entirely different worlds. And of all the people she interacts with, the personal trainer is least likely to understand the real troubles of the real wives of Gurgaon. It is a relationship that amplifies loneliness, one that highlights that even when everything is planned, nothing ever goes to plan.

“People just aren’t communicating enough,” the marriage counsellor tells me, “despite the fact that they are talking all the time.” In flitting between WhatsApp groups, google circles and Twitter messages, we are probably more vocal than we have ever been before. Except that it is in meaningless conversations. And the pressure to project a perfect life is so high, especially if you are 40-something and otherwise successful, that even confessing to friends about the unbearable loneliness of a privileged existence is an option fraught with the prospect of scandal. There are several possible fixes for this. Maybe it is that Zumba class or a solo backpacking trip. Maybe it is in just admitting to yourself, or to the world, that you are lonely and is someone interested in a chat. I don’t know where the answer lies. However, if you are on Season One of House of Cards , give me a shout.

Veena Venugopal is the editor of BLink and author of The Mother-in-Law