And today for the umpteenth time, my mom confronted me about being in a relationship. The only difference this time is that I have completed my master’s and got myself a job. So now, my previous claims of wanting to live independently and in a live-in relationship can be backed up with economic support.
However, in a non-stop series of sentences, my mom kept warning me of the consequences of such a decision. This made me end the debate right there.
Since I clearly told her that I had no intentions of getting married for the next three to four years, she questioned the status of my physical relationship with my partner.
Ultimately, our conversations led to her questioning the righteousness of the culture of live-in relationships.
The first and foremost argument against live-in relationships is the threat posed to the existence of the great Indian family structure. This structure is now almost at the cusp of extinction as more and more people are moving out of their homes. People moving to other states are grooming a lifestyle of their own which I would call “PG (paying guest) culture”.
One of the elements of PG culture is live-in relations. I am a girl who has never stayed away from my home. Nor have I experienced living in a PG or being in a live-in relationship. But I do have a couple of friends who live with their partners and this has given me insight into their side of the world.
Nevertheless, they are much more open-minded as they defy traditional arrangements and are brave enough to face society’s stares and questions.
As I marvel over the expertise with which they handle their lives and day to day things, I realise that a live-in relationship is not just about gaining physical pleasure from one’s partner but also taking on quite a lot of responsibilities to a particular lifestyle.
Not being dependent on parents and helping them both financially and emotionally, is not about disrespecting one’s parents, but rather gaining self-respect and taking pride in giving back a bit of love to one’s family. As soon as my conversation with my parents veered towards this conclusion, my mom decided to call me all sorts of bitter names and ended the discussion right there.
Whether a live-in relationship is right or not may vary from person to person, according to individual levels of comfort. But there is an urgent need to revisit our family values. We need to realise that it’s not just people from our families who are important. Wherever there is love, compassion, trust and togetherness, great relationships can be formed.
Marriage is indeed a beautiful custom but neither does it guarantee “saat janmo ka saath” nor a rosy life for the partners. There exists infidelity, marital rapes, divorce, family torture by both groom and bride, dowry, dowry deaths and other forms of cruelty, within marriage itself.
Society thinks we should be married off by a certain age and have kids. However, I personally feel there is no such ‘ideal’ age. Even solitude can be beautiful – living on your own terms can be a pleasurable experience.
For other independent girls like me who are in their early twenties, shower your family with love but do not forget yourself. Gift yourself a nice vacation, mini breaks, practice your hobbies. Do not get tangled up in society’s demand of choosing between two extremes: either remaining single and then having an arranged marriage or involving the families and getting married if one is in a relationship.
Live on your own terms.