Live-in relationship is the much-followed ‘EVOLution in the ‘LOVE’-life of many young Indian couples. In fact, if we say it has replaced/or delayed marriage, then it is not wrong. After watching a lot of Hollywood movies and Western TV shows, you too are now convinced that a live-in relationship is way better than jumping directly into marriage. The concept has been popularised in India with many Bollywood stars patronising it. Movies, TV serials, your neighbourhood – live-in relationships are popular among all walks of life atleast in the metros. It seems very practical and a little on-the-job training before marriage can’t harm either of you, right?
Well, not quite! You have missed a very important variable here. Your country and the society you live in. India may be modernising itself on many fronts in leaps and bounds. However, live-in relationships aren’t among those. Not so much yet.
Although it is a concept which is becoming popular, especially in cosmopolitan cities, it’s not happening fast enough. A major part of the society still looks at live-in relationships with scorn. If you have decided to live in with your partner somewhere in India, it’s best to be aware of the potential challenges that you might face.
Social censure when you have a live-in relationship
Most Indians, especially the older generations, still look down on live-in relationships as a taboo. It is highly likely that your parents themselves fall into this category. For them, staying together is valid after legit marriage only and live-in doesn’t fit their limited perceptions. While you are able to see the advantages of a live-in relationship, your elders are totally against it. This ‘generation gap’ may put your relationship with your parents at stake. You might even face stiff resistance from older members of your family and may even be outcast from family gatherings and social events.
Keeping the live-in relationship a secret
It is kind of a trend among many couples in India who are living in to keep it a secret from their families. In these cases, the couple live away from their hometowns for work and decide to move in without letting their families know for fear of their disapproval. Of course, this leads to various complications, like hiding all existence of your partner when parents visit, including him/her moving out for the tenure of their stay. If you are thinking about taking this route, give a thought to the consequences of an unscheduled visit by parents!
Finding a house – tough bet
Finding a house to live in is the next great challenge to overcome if you are trying to move in with your partner. Unbelievable as it may sound in this modern age of globalisation, finding a house for yourselves may take quite a search even in cosmopolitan areas. Not many people will be willing to rent you their house. If you decide to buy a flat, you may face social censure from others in the building complex or neighbourhood. Many couples falsely declare themselves to be married in order to get through this challenge.
Grappling with financial pressures
Did you know? The success of a cohabiting Indian couple depends entirely on how deftly it handles the financial pressures. Handling the additional load of expenses, including household budgets or arranging the yearly house lease is different, but are you ready to deal with bigger financial complications? In some cases, one of the partners may invest all the savings in cohabitation, whereas the other may refrain from opening up all the financial cards. Either they may hide their individual debts or salary incomes from each other. This may pull you into a financially abusive relationship. Are you ready for it?
Financial/career challenges may pose to be tricky
Imagine the scenarios – if your partner is issued a pink slip at work, or suffered continuous losses in his business start-up, what will you do next? Will you choose ‘the exit route’ or help them emotionally, support them financially to overcome such a mess? Even if there is no commitment on paper like ‘marriage’, still you both are committed to ‘love’. If you love each other, understand their inner turmoil, help them gain their inner confidence back and support them through all the ups and downs. Before entering into a live-in, understand that it is a work in progress and couples have to invest a lot to surpass all sorts of challenges. Relentless emotional support during tough career or business challenges can work as a page-turner for your relationship. So, think about the potential financial risks and prepare your mind to support each other in any situation before committing to a live-in.
Trapped in monotony
Many couples in cohabitation miss the spark of their dating days. Those who are still not clear whether they are commitment ready start comparing their relationship’s heydays with the combined challenges of the present. Busy professional schedules of partner/s may become a villain at times, bringing dissatisfaction in the romance. One/both of them may think the partner/s are not the same anymore. They may miss the fun and thrill of dating in life. For such couples, here is a reality check. Life is not a flowery picture of happily ever afters, and live-ins are exposed to many risks and influences in India. But, if you are committed towards each other, then challenges of monotony can be conquered via late night drives, little gifts, date nights, and lots of cuddling.
No ‘me-time’ in the live-in
Dating someone and having someone in the house 24×7 is an entirely different experience. With constant company in the house, the live-in partners may feel the lack of space and ‘me-time’ in their life. This cramped feeling could lead to a bitter breakup. But if you discuss and are open with your live-in partner about ‘me-time’, then things could be fairly easy on both of you. Keep aside some time to shift your perspective, focus on your interests and hobbies, bond with your friends. Honouring each other’s space is essential for the longevity of a live-in relationship. After spending quality ‘me-time’, focus on your partner as well and don’t take him/her for granted. Cook a nice meal, plan date nights, book a movie or a stand-up comedy show. Show that you care for him/her and see how nicely they respond to your lovable gestures.
Abandoning the ‘mother’ after unplanned pregnancy
In a country where premarital sex is still a taboo, unplanned pregnancy poses a mammoth challenge for live-in couples. This challenging situation could be a testing time for both the partners, especially if they are yet to figure out their long-term plans or marriage. Some couples may mutually decide ‘abortion’ to get rid of this problem. Even the Indian court of law entitles a woman to decide on ‘abortion‘ in her live-in relationship. But still, couples may find themselves with friction, because of the clash of opinions. Maybe the lady wants to have the unplanned baby and the man doesn’t. Extreme consequences could lead to the breakup too. If the mother decides to bring up the child singlehandedly, he/she may be subjected to social stigma in India.
Marriage complications post unplanned pregnancy
If the father of the child decides to marry the ‘pregnant’ mother out of love, again the live-in couples stand exposed to numerous unwanted influences. The first challenge is to involve both the families, reveal the truth of the moment, that is, pregnancy and convince them of your marriage. Now imagine the situation where families don’t even know that their children are in a live-in. And now, they have to ‘compromise’, keeping the family’s reputation in mind. At times, such parents give in to the need of the hour and bless the couple with a simple marriage. But it may take years for them to accept the relationshi
Risks of abuse at an all-time high
Despite the ruling by Supreme Court of India that entitles woman staying in a ‘live-in’ relationship rights as a wife, lack of social security exposes them to a rampant abusive relationship. A woman may end up trusting the wrong man and lose all her financial assets or savings. If he is a control freak, then he may want things in the house according to his wishes, which may also result in lots of arguments and fights. The stories of abuse may take a drastic turn with a series of toxic influences like name-calling, sexual abuse and emotional blackmail. Due to no social acceptance and lack of family’s involvement, the lady may have to bear the pattern of abuse alone.
Our Bonobology counsellors advise such Indian couples to understand the potential societal challenges and risks before committing to a live-in wisely. Trust us; live-ins could be a new beginning you both are looking out for as a couple. So, sail the challenging relationship tide and emerge stronger as ever as a couple.Published in