Couples living with parents is a common thing. In India that is called the extended family or joint family system where the newly-wed couple move in with the groom’s parents. In the US also I have seen many couples living with parents to save up on a mortgage for a new home, to pay off the student’s loan or to just look after aging parents. But couples living in with boyfriend’s parents is a rare phenomenon both in India and US or for that matter anywhere else in the world.
I did precisely that. Lived with my boyfriends parents and the experience is something to write home about.
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My parents got me a boyfriend unknowingly
I did not like him at all at first. Indra had just started working under my dad as a freelancer and my dad was so impressed by him that he brought Indra home. For my parents he soon became the son they never had and that obviously made me jealous.
I was a rebellious teenager then, picking up a fight with every authority figure, including my parents. And Indra was this golden example that I had to stumble upon at every corner. I hated him, but also started to develop a crush on him.
I moved in with him
Meanwhile, confrontations with my parents were becoming unsustainable and I decided to leave home. Through a series of unfortunate events, I ended up alone on the street one night with no money and no idea where I would sleep that night.
Like an angel, Indra turned up and offered me a place to stay. So I moved in with him in a hostel where he was completing his postgraduate diploma.
To my great irritation, I found out that my parents felt rather assured once they heard that I was staying with him. They never created a fuss about it. They were happy that I was taken care of and he could probably drive some sense in my head.
He was eight years older than me and I never even considered that he noticed me. But staying with him, sharing a room, we slowly came closer to each other. It was one of my earliest adventures. Gradually Indra convinced me to move back home. He played the referee between my parents and me and I left the hostel to move back with my parents.
But then the second phase of confrontations began. My parents and his parents wanted us to get married. Both the families loved the idea, except for the people who were actually to be married.
Indra doesn’t believe in marriage and I am not getting married in a country that doesn’t have marriage equality. Moreover, we knew that we both are polyamorous and a monogamous marriage was not an option for us.
When troubles at my home drove me up the wall, I just wanted out. We decided to move in together and for a while, for financial reasons, we started by living with his parents: that was 12 years ago. But how were we different from couples living with parents? I am coming to that.
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We have a great relationship with the parents
Our parents have now given up trying to convince us to get married. We are all on good terms now, spending holidays and vacations together. I still live with Indra and his parents. Recently Indra has moved to America for further studies, while I am completing my PhD in my hometown. I volunteered to stay here and take care of all our parents, as I didn’t want to leave my city.
Love was never missing between us and distance is not even the biggest hurdle that we handled. It was difficult for any two people to grow up together without growing apart. And I must admit, being polyamorous made us stronger as a couple.
Related Reading: I don’t regret living-in with my married lover
We re-discovered love
We all grow up in a heteronormative patriarchal society. We’re fed the idea of monoamorous love as the only option by normative films, love songs, cartoon characters and even advertisements. We learn that jealousy and possessiveness are signs of true love.
We’re reminded that Shah Jahan built Taj Mahal, the greatest symbol of love in our country, for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, but we choose to forget that she was not even his first wife or mother of his first child. We build temples of Radha Krishna but we don’t talk about the fact that their love was an forbidden relationship between Radha, who was married and Krishna, who had several other love interests.
We forget all this in favour of a Victorian puritan structure and accept that as the norm.
We have our own rules
We are like those couples living with parents but the only difference is we are not married. We are actually like a married couple when it comes to sharing responsibilities but when it comes to love we are different.
Indra and I never felt comfortable with this monolithic definition of love. For 12 years, we have defined and redefined, configured and reassembled the definition of our love.
I remember lying to him about sleeping with another man. It was actually to test whether he’s really okay with the idea. I remember him buying me my favourite flavour of ice cream just to say that it’s all right. When for the first time he told me that he has developed a crush on another woman, I remember feeling unsettled. That was until I got to know the person and she was really amazing.
We have travelled a long way since that night he took me to the hostel and we have helped each other along the way. Now that we are travelling the uncharted territory of a long-distance relationship, we have set new ground rules. We are not to discuss our current sexual escapades with each other while we are in different time zones.
Couples living with parents do so to take care of parents. As a couple in a live-in relationship we are doing the same. In fact, I continue to live with at my boyfriends parents house and take care of both parents. My boyfriend still lives with his parents he is just away studying abroad right now.
I have realised you do not need the stamp of marriage to feel loved, responsible and genuinely care for someone. Life is exciting and options are limitless. I’m ready to voyage through newer adventures with my shipmate and co-captain Indra.