By Manav Garg:
For years we’ve seen and heard of traditional Indian love stories. The ones where a shy girl in her early twenties (or even earlier) is wed to a match her parents find suitable. This relationship is then set in stone. The man and woman, who may not even have seen each other before the wedding ceremonies are thus bound together for life. A number of these weddings result in unhappy relationships, resulting in divorces amongst the more rational and educated ones, and silent acceptance for the others.
With changing times, we’ve seen the youth of our nation get influenced by the west, not just the trendy gadgets the west had to offer, but also the different ways in which relationships function, altering certain aspects of the Indian society and the dynamics of modern relationships. Relationships have become independent of ‘love’, and are often considered a path to finding ‘true love’.
Various kinds of courtship before marriage have emerged over the past few decades. The concept of “dating” has received noticeable approval from the youth, and a small broad minded section of the generation preceding ours. With this concept, physical intimacy, and pre marital sex have become mainstream, clearly illustrated by the increasing sales of contraceptives in India, especially amongst the youth. We also notice special efforts from the government to ensure easy availability of contraceptives throughout the nation, including smaller towns and cities, and imparting sex-education to as many teenagers, educating them about the dangers associated with unprotected sex.
The modern day tech-savvy Indian youth has taken up to the internet as a means of finding partners. Social networking sites like ‘Facebook’ serve as avenues for youngsters to meet new people and form relationships across the globe. If this wasn’t enough, there emerged dedicated dating websites — to match profiles of people looking for relationships.
Waking up one afternoon, recovering from a hangover with only mild recollection of the night’s events and a note from the guy you brought home is no longer uncommon, especially in major metro cities. A lot of us may have experienced/seen ‘one night stands’ and ‘casual hook-ups’ or concepts like ‘friends with benefits’ and ‘open relationships’, where-in couples are involved in physical relationships, often after successive heart breaks while dating, or simply due to the urge to satisfy one’s sexual desires without emotional attachment or commitment. Couples have embraced ‘live in’ relationships, where couples live together in an intimate relationship, without getting married and thus avoiding painful divorces and marriage breakdowns.
The biggest change we can see in relationships today is probably the slow but steady acceptance of homosexuality, both legally, and in the minds of the masses. With legal protection and rights, you see men and women openly accepting their homosexuality, and continuing to live life normally.
A lot of people call this change merely aping the west, pointing out the loss of traditional Indian values. But I see this as moving ahead and living in the kind of relationships that allow freedom to experiment, keep us happy, and probably help reduce the number of failed marriages, as compared to traditional ‘blind’ marriages.
Will this actually happen? Only time will tell.