Open relationships are trending for today’s urban couples
An open relationship in India may raise many eyebrows, for it is taboo. As a culture and a society, we do not approve of polygamy. And why only India, in many countries it’s considered unconventional. But as India progresses, urban life is becoming faster. Some lovers have decided to truly experience “variety is the spice of life”.
Sonam and Zabir have been in an open relationship for the past 4 years and seem completely happy. Sonam is a 27 year old, slim and pretty Malayali Hindu girl and her boyfriend Zabir is a 29-year-old Muslim boy. A few years back they were living together, but soon after his parents moved to Pune from Aurangabad, he moved in with his parents. As Sonam could not afford the rent all by herself, she decided to move in with her mother.
The complexity of their relationship
Their relationship is at times extremely complex. Sonam’s mother is a very good friend of mine and I often go visit them in the evenings after work. I see Zabir most of the times at her place. After they both go to their bedroom and lock the door, I can’t help but ask Sonam’s mother, “Why is he always at your place? Has Sonam ever been to his place?” “His parents do not know about their relationship, but I am cool with it. It is Sonam’s life and she needs to decide what is best for her,” replied her mother. So I figured that his family is not as progressive and modern as hers.
A few weeks later, I asked Sonam about her love affair with Zabir and she responded, “We are in a relationship, but our boundaries and rules are defined by us. Whenever he feels like getting married to someone else he can. I do not want to get married.” I quickly asked her, “What about him straying for the lack of commitment?” “We both are open to date others, as we tell each other everything. We think it is helpful in our relationship. It is better to tell and sleep around than to cheat,” said she.
At that moment, I felt that it was too much complexity to deal with. She is a Hindu and he is a Muslim. His parents do not know about them but her mother is cool. And to add to the entire mess, they do not want to get married and are seeing each other and other people for the past 4 years. I couldn’t help but wonder, do they even love each other?
I couldn’t help but wonder, do they even love each other?
The simplicity of their relationship
One day when I was at Sonam’s place, I gathered the courage to ask her, “Sonam, do you love Zabir?” “Yes, I love him and he loves me too,” she replied.
“I know that it could be difficult for many to understand, but we like it this way. We are honest, we do not need to hide our urge to be sexually active, and most importantly, we know that we will be there for one another when needed. Sex and seeing other people are just as much a part of our relationship. At least we do not lie to each other and all our discussions are more evolved than most couples in a monogamous relationship.” She explained the simplicity of their relationship to me so well that I was convinced that it was right for them. After all, who am I to decide what is right or wrong? I truly felt at ease when I spoke to her and got to know that their relationship is based on trust and love. Each person’s definition of these two terms is distinct.
Related reading: They love each other but are not sure of marriage
What about the future of their relationship then?
Sometimes, however, I wonder what could be the future to their relationship? What if his parents who seem to be the traditional types, start pestering him to get married to a Muslim girl? “Well, it will not bother me at all. He will still see me and I will still see him. In fact, he would be lying to his wife but not me. I am financially independent and I know that whenever we need each other even financially we will be there. For me, I’m not hiding anything,” she explains.
From Zabir’s perspective, I wondered if he was doing anything wrong, but to that Sonam once again helped me understand that love does not have to be confined to only one person. “He can love me and he can love his wife, if he gets married.
It will be his choice to tell her and it will be her choice to stay with him. It is all just the choices you make.”
“But what if he starts cutting you out, if he happens to fall in love with his wife and wants a monogamous marriage with her?” I asked. She smiled and she asked me, “What will you do if you start falling out of love? I do not know how I will react then. After all nothing is permanent.”
I soon figured that happiness is a choice you make; it can never be incidental. With the traditional upbringing I had and for the progressive education that I received, a constant conflict in my mind forced me to understand how their “open” relationship worked. Today, when I see both of them happy, my conflicting mind stops questioning.