Are We Ready to Accept Live-in Relationships?

Posted on January 21, 2010 in Specials

Sameera Ahmed:

India has long been a conservative country with conservative people having conservative thoughts.

Ironically the land of the Kamasutra has always had an unadventurous outlook towards the concept of marriage and relationships.

Marriage has different meanings in different people’s minds. But in India, whether you individually believe in it or not, matrimony is sacrosanct. It is not just the union of two people legally; it is the union of two souls and their families. The couple gets the blessings of their elders and they live happily ever after. Relationships out of marriage are looked down upon.

But today marriage doesn’t hold the same values anymore. Divorce rates were practically unheard of until a decade ago. People have found new ways to live those, which are more convenient for them. Cohabitation or the concept of a live-in relationship is one such consequence. Some people think of marriage as an obstacle; like a mountain that you are forced to climb not knowing what’s at the peak.

For such people, a way out is the concept of live-in relationships. No marriage, no pressure, no strings attached. Live for the present with the person you want to be with- that’s the mantra. And it sounds too good to be true.

In some of the states (such as Virginia) in the United States of America, living with your partner before marriage is illegal. People who lived like that were shunned in their society half a century ago. But at present, live-in relationships are being accepted. My point, however, is, that parents blame it on the big Western influence. We say, why blame the West, when we are at fault? We have our own minds. We do something because we want to, not because the rest of the world does it. Just because our country considers such customs as immoral, doesn’t mean people who follow it are morally loose.

Why India hates it?

On one hand, a live-in relationship could solve all the problems that a marriage would create. Usually people in a live-in relationship see themselves married together in a couple of years. Some do it to check their compatibility with their partner, some do it avoid the legal hassles of divorce in case the relationship falls apart, some do it because they don’t believe in needing to prove to society that they are ethical in thinking. However, marriage enthusiasts say that a live-in relationship is more liable to break; destroying the chance that a marriage could have saved. Studies prove it too.

The whole question comes to India’s culture. A marriage can be a bed of roses but it also means tolerance and adjustment. People do fall in love with their partner after marriage filmi istyle but a lot more people adjust, fight and tolerate the marriage because divorce sounds too alien to handle. Cut to a live-in relationship, and snap! If you don’t like it, you are out of it.

The metros are fast catching up on this new, easy to handle trend. But try this in the towns and villages; a father would rather murder his daughter than be a witness to her committing such an atrocious crime/‘sin’.

My verdict:

Hamara desh has miles and miles to go before she could even consider a live-in relationship. It is against our very upbringing. But like most things, even this will change. In 2008 four Indian cities Delhi, Bangalore, Puducherry and Kolkata held gay parades for celebrating greater tolerance and living towards the third gender. In a situation like this, can welcoming the idea of live-in relationships be far behind?

I used to believe that we, as the youth are ruining the essence of Indian culture. But after asking tons of people mostly youngsters what they felt about live-in relationships I have a dilemma. Most said “It’s a matter of personal choice. If someone wants to do it, let them. It’s a free country. But I would never ever go in for it or recommend it.”

I am still wondering if I should be proud of our inherent morals or flabbergasted at our conservative thinking right in the 21st century.


The writer is a Chennai based correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.