How Practical Is A Live-In Relationship Today?

 

Wondering whether life is all about living in?

Just imagine this scenario. You have just begun enjoying the sweet taste of financial independence. You want your career graph to grow. Suddenly, you realize that you have begun to like somebody very much. Same interests, similar pet peeves and a lot in common. You are attracted however; you are not yet ready to get married for obvious reasons.

  • Do not want the extra responsibility of a marriage.
  • Want to have fun while you work (a marriage could dampen that!)
  • Want to concentrate more on carving a niche for yourself.

In the mentioned circumstances, would you wish to do the next best thing? Get into a live-in relationship till you plan your next move? This way you have it all. How many of us would do it?

Living-In for Good?

Marriage does not seem to have become outdated as yet, at least not in India when you consider the number of weddings that take place every month, every year. But, live-in relationships have also become a kind of accepted lifestyle in some places where work culture determines who you date and who you sleep with. Although many people live together as a couple without getting married, the reasons for doing so may not always be a compatibility test before the wedding. For many, convenience plays a huge role in determining their choice. And now, that the court is acknowledging such relationships whatever the conditions, makes this a working reality.

Several people find it easier and more economical to live together without getting married as it gives them almost all the benefits of a married life without any strings attached. You live, cook, work, share chores together and enjoy life as a couple without being legally bound. It could be a liberal lifestyle for some or just a matter of personal choice. Whatever may be the case, a live-in relationship seems to have many takers today especially in big cities where work and fun are the top priorities in life.  There are many who fear a divorce even before the knot is tied worried as they are by the increasing rate of failed marriages around them. So, a live-in relationship clears away any such possibilities. Maybe, a failed live-in relationship but it comes without the hassles of official and legal funda! For some, commitment is too big a word as they feel that they need more time before settling down for good. So, if the relationship works, great. If not, then they can just dust their emotions off and carry on.

I know of people who have lived together (without their folks knowing of course – place of jobs being away from home helps!) and just when you thought that they were made for each other, they split for God knows what. At first, I was intrigued. I tried imagining what an argument in a typical married household would be like.

“Why didn’t you come early to the supermarket when I told you so?” (Husband)

“Okay. Okay. I was just a few minutes late.” (Wife)

“Few minutes? You call half an hour few minutes? I am fed up.” (Husband)

“Now don’t make me open my mouth. Remember how you landed up an hour late when Bhaiya and Bhabhi first came to visit us?” (Wife)

“Oh! That was because I was caught in a meeting. I….” (Husband)

I then imagined an argument in a live-in relationship.

“Why didn’t you come early to the restaurant? I was sitting like a dumb ass waiting for you. Damn it. I am not your husband.”

“Don’t yell at me like that. I am not your wife.”

So, who gave the apple - the man or the woman?

I later understood that not all live-in relationships can be cemented for life. When married couples can divorce each other on flimsy grounds of incompatibility then, a live-in relationship creates more fertile ground for insecurity to creep in. You get to maintain your self satisfying independent streak and satiate some desires in such a relationship, that’s it. There is no working for similar goals, for common emotional security mainly because you have a huge choice of walking away without any consequence. Consequences don’t exist in a live-in relationship. You are supposed to carry on despite any heartbreak or physical abuse. And God save you if you get out of the relationship only to discover that you are pregnant!

I suppose marriage comes with too much expectation accompanied with other complexities of raising children, relatives, dowry problems and of course plenty of social drama. Maybe, this is what puts off some people or maybe it is the lack of flexibility in today’s world. A live-in relationship is a temporary attractive option in a fast and frenzied life. What about parental pressure, society, personal values, etc? Well, those who get into such relationships very professionally manage it all. Hats off to them!!

What is your take  on live-in relationships?

Advertisements

22 thoughts on “How Practical Is A Live-In Relationship Today?

  1. A nice article indeed !!!

    My take is a bit of extension to what you said. The urban society in India merely apes the Western society without looking at the causes and the consequences. As you mentioned, “Consequences don’t exist in a live-in relationship” and the very attitude of “There are no consequences” brought about the current downfall in the world economy. But our country still managed to avoid recession due to our policies and conservative nature.

    As long as the decision is well thought of, it is fine. But going by the Indian mindset, I feel that people who are in a live-in relationship tend to think of this status as a stepping stone towards marriage, which would be acceptable for ones family and relatives. It’s like a trailer, before the real movie.

    But what I ponder over is this: Suppose Mr. X is in a live-in relationship which may/may not culminate into marriage. 25 years later, X’s son/daughter tells X that he/she is in a live-in relationship with someone. Would X accept that relationship? The answer to this question, in my view, determines the success/failure of X’ current live-in relationship (success doesn’t necessarily mean marriage).

    If the person is in a live-in relationship just for the comfort level (easy-way out) and doesn’t take it seriously, to explore the relationship further, then it’s as good as not being in the relationship.

  2. Well articulated, and a good topic, as always, shail. My twopence on this: Live in relationships are better, because there is very less expectation out of your partner. However, being wedded, reduces the opportunity to keep flitting from one partner to another, which I guess is better in the long run. I mean, no body is perfect. So if one were to realise each year, that the person ‘lived with’ is not ‘the’ one, it becomes an endless chase!! Might as well settle with one person and iron out differences and live a quiet life.

  3. Nice Article ….

    I do not look differently at couples who live-in, its their choice and we respect that, but I would definitely think otherwise of people who chose to have children out of wedlock in a society like ours and put their children through tremendous pressure at all walks of their before they are able to handle the situation on their own.

    All said and done irrespective of how our society has shaped up , there is a small % of people who find this normal , rest dont find it normal but take it as it comes and majority of them talk , im sure most of us can imagine how good the talk would be about such topics.

    In my opinion to save children from such unfriendly situations I think as Women we should take a stand and make a choice.

    GVS

  4. That was a great article as usual. you have the skill of presenting the case emotionally without taking sides. And it was really smart of you to present the conversation between the couples in both the types of relationship. I came to know of live-ins when I first went to England in 1993 as part of an Exchange Team. I stayed in a house for 2 days. The man of the house, a divorcee, was living with a lady who was a Bank Manager. I dealt with live-in my controversial novel SHE. On the face of it, it may not look viable. But neither does marriage in the present day. So we have to think. The Court has given very clear guidelines about live-in relationships which you can add by way of a supplementary post.
    A well written article, Shail.
    sridhar

  5. Very interesting topic Shail and quite relevant when Supreme court too has had to intervene. I feel that those in live-in relationships are afraid to commit or sometimes just take live-in as the rehearsal to big event called marriage. Whatever it is, its entirely a matter between two individuals. As long as one partner does not take the other for granted, its all about making relatinships work or not work.
    We have examples of Nina Gupta- Vivian Richards and their daughter born out of wedlock and also enjoying life within societal framework; Adam Bedi and Nisha Harale and so on. Live-in relationships are here to stay whether we accept or not and society is certainly not very approving of it.
    There are pros and cons to everything but one thing is certain, a solid relationship surpasses all tests of time.

  6. Today’s generation do not want to take any family responsibly but want to enjoy all the benefits attached to it. So is the case of Live in relationship. It is an escape route to be free from responsibility towards each other, what an life style! In long run this is bound to break because they want newer horizon and do not bother to continue the relationship for better pasture.
    My post on similar subject can be read at the following link-
    http://srayyangar.blogspot.com/2010/03/living-in-love-arranged-marriage.html

  7. Nice Blog.I specially liked this line : “There is no working for similar goals, for common emotional security mainly because you have a huge choice of walking away without any consequence”!

  8. Varun Reddy :

    A nice article indeed !!!

    My take is a bit of extension to what you said. The urban society in India merely apes the Western society without looking at the causes and the consequences. As you mentioned, “Consequences don’t exist in a live-in relationship” and the very attitude of “There are no consequences” brought about the current downfall in the world economy. But our country still managed to avoid recession due to our policies and conservative nature.

    As long as the decision is well thought of, it is fine. But going by the Indian mindset, I feel that people who are in a live-in relationship tend to think of this status as a stepping stone towards marriage, which would be acceptable for ones family and relatives. It’s like a trailer, before the real movie.

    But what I ponder over is this: Suppose Mr. X is in a live-in relationship which may/may not culminate into marriage. 25 years later, X’s son/daughter tells X that he/she is in a live-in relationship with someone. Would X accept that relationship? The answer to this question, in my view, determines the success/failure of X’ current live-in relationship (success doesn’t necessarily mean marriage).

    If the person is in a live-in relationship just for the comfort level (easy-way out) and doesn’t take it seriously, to explore the relationship further, then it’s as good as not being in the relationship.

    Hi Varun. Nice of you to share your thoughts. I too feel the same about this. Live -in relationships seem to be working for some people. I do know some people…but since I knew these people (although I cannot generalize) I also knew how self centered and non-committal they actually were in reality.
    No consequence relationship is not worth anything at all…
    We need more meaning in life than this.

  9. I think live-in is a good arrangement…the taking for granted is a problem for most women, so is the fact that ‘women’s chores’ become the thorn in the flesh of any marriage. A woman will get more respect and equality in a live-in relationship coz the guard never slip and complacency does not slip into the relationship…marriage is so ‘expected’ as is the furniture you don’t bump into on trips for a glass of water at midnight!

  10. Well, it is a little difficult to comment on this issue. I am single, so fortunately or unfortunately not aware or involved in the complexities of marital life. I am also not actively into any sort of relationship, therefore whether live-in or live-out, again such relations or rapports are out of my periphery. But again making of a relationship, whether within marriage or out of marriage, takes a toll on both man and woman in terms of emotional as well as social involvement. In our society, marriage is not between man and woman, it is between two families. So, the social responsibilities are immense and at times overbearing.

    But coming to think of live-in relationship within our social system. How long can it remain bereft of these social pressures and entanglements, I wonder. The boy and the girl who decide to go in for such a relationship is also part of the same society. Can they isolate themselves from their parents, families and other ties and concentrate only on their stand-along relationship. I think not. If that is the case, then the same situations, relational stress (if it is considered that way), familial pressure can build up and mar such relationships too.

    Moreover, the quantum of commitment in such relations is supposed to be minimal. However, is it really so ? And equally so for the boy as well as the girl? It is not important whether you are in such a relationship. What happens when you are out of it? Is the pain less because there was no marital bond? What about rehabilitation after getting out of such a relation. Today I am in such a relation. Tomorrow I break up because things are not going the way I thought they would be going. From day after tomorrow, I start leading a “normal” life. Is that possible?

    So, in the final analysis, a relation if considered a burden is a burden. A relation if considered fruitful and enriching, it is so. Much depends upon the parties involved how they want to make their lives happy or unhappy. Today, live-in
    relation may seem if not an ideal but definitely an alternate option. But is it so? Are the pros and cons not similar to that of a marital bond? Or you mean to say the involved parties are always on tenterhooks therefore put in more effort to make it a success or at least conscious as well as cautious of their relationship? If so, how much stress free such an arrangement is, I wonder. Is it at all a relationship or just tight rope walking on the pretext of love, understanding, carnal desire or whatever other ingredients such a relation is based on. I really, really wonder….seriously.

  11. The two people involved in this make-shift relationship should be prepared for the consequences, shouldn’t blame the society. Between 25 and 40 or so it may be exciting, thereafter the sun may enter the western sky and get dimmer and cooler. Man may jump to the other bank leaving the poor woman just dyeing her hair to hold on to her youth.

  12. had you asked me this question about a decade ago, I would have been all for it. But I am wiser now, (even if I say so myself, lol) and secondly my religion does not believe in sex before marriage. Though in practice there are many people who would not adhere to that part of their religion. And thats their choice.

    I now believe, that marriage is a High Risk life time project. One has to work towards a harmonious togethernesss, instead of expecting someone to click and fit with one’s self, or vice versa. I also strongly believe that one should GROW in love and not Fall in love. When the word fall comes to mind, the first thought is of something falling with a metaphoric or literal thud. That feeling is something all will enjoy, Thats maybe why the saying goes, “Love is blind, Marriage is the eye opener.”

    Please look at this is my personal views and my intentions are not to generalise or stereotype anything or anybody. Hope this helps.

  13. <
    Hi Safiyyah,

    Nice to see such a long detailed response.
    As far as the issue of live-in, I know it might be old fashioned of me to not gel with this idea. Not that I am unaware of the risks that come with this and with regular marriage. Both are risky. But, at least I know that we can command some degree of commitment in a marriage. The same cannot be said of live-in although a person can go astray even while in a married relationship! Currently, many people are into such a kind of relationship because it is fairly convenient as most of these people are working persons with their parents not in the immediate vicinity so they can just have a fling or live-in with someone without bothering much about the consequences. As for those married men/women who live-in I have nothing to say at all!

  14. You talked about commitments and thats the thing Irealised I had forgotten to mention earlier. It has a great impact on ppl here in the UK, and i’ll share with you how.

    The law talks about rights when these partners live together and have children. When they seperate and move on to other relationships, the custodial rights are all over the place, the expenses of the children in question if the lone parent is struggling is not fair and it gets even worse when one of the partner dies and the question of inheritance arise. The law does not protect the partner in the same way as it protects the wife and the so called legitimate children.

    Now its a complete different issue in Islam as a religion. (I’ll emphasise here that I m not refering to muslim people here, but the religion) Islam says one should only marry and then have sex with their spouse, hence the live-in issue goes out of the window, but then there are muslims who live together and the rest. i’ll only talk about what the religion says. It says that if a person wants an extra marital affair, the one person should rather marry and take on a second wife, take all the responsibility of the so called mistress, give her the status of wife in the community, her children are then ligitimate and she and her kids can then inherit when he passes away. Again this should not be down at the cost of the first wife. (Though that is what ends up happening in real life) Now as much difficult as it can get for the first wife. It is always better for the first wife if her husband took on a second wife than go out with her, have a relationship, (mistress like) and she has no rights, she can’t express her love and affection openly, she grieves alone in case he dies. No one would want to be in her shoes. Thats my view of this issue.

  15. Hi Safiyyah,
    Yes, misconceptions arise in society and people brew hatred only because they do not know where their limits lie be it in a live-in relationship or in a married relationship. I always believe that the lakshman rekha is not just for women alone, it is there for men too. If only, both behaved (mentally and physically) within their limits the world/society would be such a harmonious place. Don’t you think so?

  16. Dear Shail,

    I feel Live in is like living in a rented home,where u dont take care much of its upkeep, for itis not yrs. You dare not invest much in the rented home, bcs u will have to leave it some day.

    Marriage is like yr own home, u will do all u can to make it bettter, for it is yours.

    And children are the binding factor in a marriage.Of course both sides have to adjust and make compromises in a marriage.

    Live in is bcs u get free sex, yr rent becomes half, and u have the security of a male.But suppose u leave the first live in , go in with another one, the one u left, may wag his tongue, hemay have some intimate pics of u, blackmail, so many factors really.

    i am not in favour of live in, maybe i am old fashioned.HAHA

    Great article which sets the mind ticking.

    Regards

    kamal

  17. Really Hot & latest topic which needs to be discussed. Frequent failures in marriages tend to encourage such live in relationships. Ppl can live on their terms and go separate when situation warrants. I think this trend is likely to increase in view of the drastic changes in ethics and living styles.

  18. As I’d always like to say, every coin has two sides and one should look at both sides of it to be ‘fair and just.

    A live-in-relationship, agreed, is no guarantee of a future marriage commitment. The agreement of staying together is made purely on the basis on the respective couples criteria and necessities. Of course, a 50-50; give and take relationship never works. There is one individual who should adjust and bend a little for the relationship to sustain. An eye-for-an-eye conversation that you’ve written in the scenario of the live-in-couple should be a realization for many youngsters who want to follow this trend.

    Well, if we typically see why the trend is catching up in India, there are LOTS of reasons for it. First of all, let’s face it : our Indian system of marriage has never been unfair. If I’ve to talk about me, (and I will, since this issue about marriage has been plaguing me for a while now) I believe that marriage is also a lot about understanding each others necessities and complementing them. That rarely happens in India.

    My family members think that I OUGHT TO naturally imbibe the rules of marriage once married. Also, the in-law’s trouble stays in hindsight. One needs to be both, physically as well as emotionally and psychologically prepared to handle the intricacies of marriage. In India, as someone once rightly pointed out to me, one does not marry an individual, but the family. Not every independent guy/girl can do it…and in our culture, the girl is inextricably expected to leave the house and go to the ‘husband’s house’… Now, do you know HOW DIFFICULT it is (in most cases) to do so? My psychologist friend once told me to do a thing. She told me, ‘Sneha, go to your neighbours house and sit there for ten minutes. You will notice there is an unsaid air, almost an unwritten, silent rule permeating the house’. And we unrealistically expect the girl to accept the new house as HER OWN almost instantaneously.

    Now, we got to be fair and then judge a live-in-relationship or whatever else. I remember writing an article long ago, the title of which read ‘Sort Love First : Then the definition of Live-in-Relationships or whatever!’

    I’d like to end by saying that I’m all for what the individual feels he/she wants. Ending up pregnant, alone and dejected is just one side. There is another entirely different dimension in living together and I’m all for it.

  19. Sorry. The third paragraph, third line, third word should read as ‘fair’
    On a lighter note, that’s too much of third, isn’t it? 🙂

  20. Pallavi :
    Well articulated, and a good topic, as always, shail. My twopence on this: Live in relationships are better, because there is very less expectation out of your partner. However, being wedded, reduces the opportunity to keep flitting from one partner to another, which I guess is better in the long run. I mean, no body is perfect. So if one were to realise each year, that the person ‘lived with’ is not ‘the’ one, it becomes an endless chase!! Might as well settle with one person and iron out differences and live a quiet life.

    Thanks Pallavi. I agree 100% with you on that. However boring it may appear, a wedded realtionship does seem to bring with a sense of security and commitment. ‘flitting around’ as you said, does have its hassles…

  21. Gargi :
    Nice Article ….
    I do not look differently at couples who live-in, its their choice and we respect that, but I would definitely think otherwise of people who chose to have children out of wedlock in a society like ours and put their children through tremendous pressure at all walks of their before they are able to handle the situation on their own.
    All said and done irrespective of how our society has shaped up , there is a small % of people who find this normal , rest dont find it normal but take it as it comes and majority of them talk , im sure most of us can imagine how good the talk would be about such topics.
    In my opinion to save children from such unfriendly situations I think as Women we should take a stand and make a choice.
    GVS

    Thanks Rinku. You have spoken wisely. The choice of live-in is always there but to submit children to such a kind of frivolous relationship without the bindings of society is indeed cruel…

  22. sridhar :

    That was a great article as usual. you have the skill of presenting the case emotionally without taking sides. And it was really smart of you to present the conversation between the couples in both the types of relationship. I came to know of live-ins when I first went to England in 1993 as part of an Exchange Team. I stayed in a house for 2 days. The man of the house, a divorcee, was living with a lady who was a Bank Manager. I dealt with live-in my controversial novel SHE. On the face of it, it may not look viable. But neither does marriage in the present day. So we have to think. The Court has given very clear guidelines about live-in relationships which you can add by way of a supplementary post.
    A well written article, Shail.
    sridhar

    Dear Sridhar,

    The problem with today’s society is that there are too many choices available and values are not considered that important. I am not saying that all those who are part of live in relationships are bad.It is just that live in relationships tend to bring with them a sense of casual emotion which is not what one eventually wants in any serious relationship. And when children follow, the situation becomes from bad to worse. Marriages are no better as you rightly mentioned but at least, you know that the children get the legal status of being legitimate children…
    Thanks for your compliments Sridhar.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s