Live-in relationships in India remain a controversial issue, with many young Indian couples and their families on opposite sides of the divide. In fact, it won’t be wrong to say that it has replaced/delayed marriage to some extent. After watching a lot of Hollywood movies and Western TV shows, you too may be 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 patronizing it. Movies, TV serials, your neighborhood, live-in relationships are popular among all walks of life, at least in the metros and big cities. 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 society you live in. India may be modernizing on many fronts by leaps and bounds. However, live-in relationships aren’t among those. Not so much yet, the challenges involved may make you contemplate if the whole thing is worth it.
Live-in Relationship In India: What Are The Challenges Involved?
Although the concept of unmarried couples living together in India is becoming popular, especially in cosmopolitan cities, it’s not happening fast enough. Several sections of society still look at live-in relationships with scorn. In most cases, when you break it to your parents, their first reaction would be, “What is a live-in relationship?”
If you have decided to be in a live-in relationship in India with your partner, it’s best to be aware of the potential challenges that you might face:
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1. Social censure when you have a live-in relationship
Most Indians, especially the older generations, still look down upon live-in relationships as taboo. It is highly likely that your parents themselves fall into this category. For them, staying together is valid only after marriage and live-in doesn’t fit their perceptions.
While you are able to see the advantages of a live-in relationship, your elders may be 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 outcasted from family gatherings and social events.
2. Keeping the live-in relationship a secret
For unmarried couples living together in India comes with its own set of unique challenges. It is not uncommon for many cohabiting couples in India to keep it a secret from their families. In these cases, the couple lives away from their hometowns for work and decides to move in without letting their families know, out of 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 duration of their stay. If you are thinking about taking this route, give a thought to the consequences of an unscheduled visit by either set of parents!
3. 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 globalization, finding a house for yourselves may prove quite the Herculean task even in cosmopolitan areas. Not many people are willing to rent their house to unmarried couples.
If you decide to buy a flat, you may face social censure from others in the building complex or neighborhood. Many couples falsely declare themselves to be married in order to get through this challenge.
4. Grappling with financial pressures
Did you know the success of a cohabiting Indian couple depends entirely on how deftly they handle the financial stresses in a relationship? 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 their financial cards at all. Either may hide their individual debts or salary incomes from the other. This may pull you into a financially abusive relationship. Are you ready for it?
5. Career challenges may pose to be tricky
Imagine the scenarios – if your partner is issued a pink slip at work, or suffers losses in their business, what will you do next? Will you choose ‘the exit route’ or support them emotionally and financially to overcome this rough patch?
Even if there is no commitment on paper like it is in the case of marriage, you both are still committed by 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 a live-in relationship in India, 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 a tough career or business phase 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 relationship.
6. Trapped in monotony
Many couples in cohabitation miss the spark of their dating days. Those who are still not clear whether they are ready for a long-term commitment, start comparing their relationship heydays with the challenges of their present living arrangement.
Busy professional schedules of partner/s may become a villain at times, bringing dissatisfaction in the romance. One or both partners may think that the other has changed, become distant. 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 toward each other, then challenges of monotony can be conquered through thoughtful romantic gestures such as late-night drives, little gifts, date nights, and lots of cuddling.
Related Reading: Learn How To Tackle Boredom In Relationships
7. No me-time in the live-in
Dating someone and having someone in the house 24×7 are two entirely different experiences. With the 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 ‘the importance of me-time then things could be fairly easy on both of you. Keep aside some time to focus on your perspective, interests, hobbies, and bonding with your friends.
Honoring 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 them for granted. Cook a nice meal, plan date nights, book a movie or a stand-up comedy show. Show that you care for them and see how nicely they respond to your lovable gestures.
8. Abandoning the ‘mother’ after unplanned pregnancy
In a country where premarital sex is still taboo, unplanned pregnancy poses a mammoth challenge for couples in a live-in relationship. This challenging situation could be a testing time for both partners, especially if they are yet to figure out their long-term plans or marriage.
Some couples may mutually decide on abortion to deal with this curveball. Even the Indian court of law entitles a woman to decide on abortion while she is in a live-in relationship. But if both partners are not on the same page about whether or not to bring a child into this world, it can lead to friction and ugly clashes.
Extreme consequences could lead to a breakup too. If the mother decides to bring up the child singlehandedly, she may be subjected to social stigma in India.
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9. 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, the pregnancy, and convince them to consent to the marriage.
Now imagine the situation where families don’t even know that their children are in a live-in relationship. And now, they have to compromise for the sake of the ‘family’s reputation’. In such situations, parents may give the couple their blessing but it may take years for them to accept the relationship.
10. Risks of abuse at an all-time high
Despite a ruling by the Supreme Court of India that entitles women staying in a live-in relationship the same rights as a wife, a 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 involvement, the woman may have to bear the pattern of abuse alone.
Our Bonobology counselors advise couples to understand the potential societal challenges and risks before committing to a live-in relationship in India. 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.
It can get tricky when you have to convince your parents, or even hide it from them. The risk of abuse and financial distress is at an all time high.
The Supreme Court of India passed a ruling that entitles women to stay in a live in relationship without marriage.
If there is no space in the relationship, many couples do break up. Make sure to discuss all the big things with each other, like finances, career plans, and potential pregnancies.