Live In Relationships - A Woman's Perspective

August 25, 2010
In last few years, the education for the girl child was widely promoted by social and religious groups and also government, in terms of financial assistance, and the result is there in front of our eyes.  A whole generation of confident, English speaking, trousers clad women are India's active workforce - in traditional and not so traditional roles like DJ, RJ, film direction, event management, call centre executives, stewardesses, even petrol pump assistants etc.  Although, this amounts to a very meagre percentage.

Apart from education, there is one more thing, which I feel, is liberating for Indian women, it has the potential to empower our young and intelligent girls, it is Live-In Relationships.  I call it liberating because Indian marriages are not truely marriage of two souls, they are more of an arrangement, relationship between two families (who really do not care for you), sometimes financial and business goals are there, but its hardly the union of two souls.

Live Ins are the answer for that fake pompousness and the great facade a traditional Indian marriage put in front of the society.  And it's considered better to be in "a being together without commitment" relationship than a dead marriage, which many youngsters witness in their families.

Reasons for being in Live in can be many.  It can be that you love a person and want to find out how compatible you would be in marriage setup, may be legally you cannot be in wedlock and then the Live-in provides you the companionship you so desire. More or less, its the desire to know the person completely before getting into marriage, that seems to be the reason, here in India.
If we really see, just how sinful it was assumed just a few years back for a man and a woman to cohabit without the social sanctity, and just in a few years, the society is beginning to acknowledge its existence and is giving a subtle nod too.  If the couple is staying away from the either parents, and parents do not have to answer the questions of the other parents, everyone is fine.

Moreover, when this social change is there because prominent people of  media spoke about it, causing outrage in society and then our judiciary stood up for the rights of unmarried adults who want to live together without the bondage of marriage.  A few of the major developments have been :

1.   The Indian Supreme Court has said that premarital sex not an offence. (in terms of live in relationships in unmarried adults)
2.    Moreover see the article Mumbai govt legalises live in
3.   Justice Malimath Committee as well as the Law Commission of India states that if a woman has been in a ‘live in’ relationship for a reasonable period, she should enjoy the legal rights of the wife. Although 'reasonable period' has not been defined, which can be misused.
4.    The Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act 2005 benefits women in Live-in relationships as in marriage.

But still one major question needs urgent answer, ie., the status of children born out of wedlocks, which is a serious issue.  In my opinion, only YOU have the right to be in a relationship which suits you, but bringing another life in it should mean serious and clear decisions in terms of commitment with the guy.

Moreover, property and maintenance issues can hamper the very free spirit of a live in relationship, which is supposed to be a "no strings attached" thing.  A live-in should be a matter of choice, a matter of desire and not a compromise with situation and the need to be protected. 

Women should be given a chance to know what they are heading into or else they may suffer and give in to the thick and inescapable net of marriage.  But for this women really need to be smart and just know that they do not give in to any exploitation, especially financial, and learn to assert themselves.

I am hopeful about this big social change. What do you say? How do you see it ten years from now? Are you in a Live-in? or a friend of yours? what are the practical issues involved? Do share you views about this post.


(This is the series of posts I am writing on women issues in India, see the label "Women Issues That Baffle Me" on this blog, to read more)


arvind said...

the children have to be taken care by the Government..

Vikram Karve said...

I liked your first article in this series on feminine matters and this one too which gives food for thought.
But there is one point I don't agree on... please tell me how can there be a genuine relationship without commitment - like you said that this is "a being together without commitment". Well I feel that in any true relationship,be it love or friendship, mutual commitment is a must.
I look forward to your reply and views.

D2 said...

Though live-in relationships are a matter of choice and the Indian judiciary has legalized it, the Indian society still looks down upon those couples living together, immaterial of whether they are in a relationship or simply roommates. The taboo is omnipresent, unfortunately. Hopefully, we shall modernize culturally a little quicker. But what with 'honour killings' so rampant in the country, I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon.
As for love children, I think if a girl lives in a such a relationship of her own will, she is and must be aware of the responsibilities, the possibilities, and the consequences as much as the guy. of course, I'm talking about a situation where she is not exploited but the relationship is a healthy loving one.

Interesting post, Restless. Go on with the series!

vini said...

I go with your point on Indian marriages, and a live-in relation is fine but only to an extent. It makes a serious family-oriented commitment and relationship rather too flexible to become short-lived and broken. In that context, Traditional wedlocks are good, if a good freedom of finding out love and compatibility for the individual is involved.

Vaish said...

I do vote for a "Live in" type of life PROVIDED they are followed properly. If you see anywhere outside India, especially in Europe which is said to have good culture and value system (unlike America), people live together until the age of 30 or 40 or even more. Until they are settled(financially), until they are mentally prepared for starting a family life. They are committed to each other morally. In such a case there is no need for a binding document or legal agreement! But for India to get to this level, it will take centuries.

A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

@ ARVIND - hope u meant Govt to make some law for the welfare of children.

@ Vikramji - thanks for commenting and a query definitely makes me feel good! Well, u r right, when i was typing it, it struck to me too. But, I used this term, "no commitment", loosely, only to mean "no commitment for marriage", as is generally used by poeple in relationships. Moreover, there is no real certainity of future in live-ins, depends completely how the things are going. It does give the freedom to part, when things are beyond repair. Hence, no real commitment, but surely what you meant was dedication towards the relationship or friendship, that is and should be the very basic element in any human relationship.

And thanks for raising that question!


A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

@ D2 - A very well worded and framed comment, must say, am impressed!

yeah, unfortunately, ppl look down upon them. and yes, honour killings are such a shame to live with. also, yes both the partners are equally responsibile, undoubtedly.


@ vini, most of the relationships start because marriage is not possible or not desired at that point of time, but living and exploiting someone only for fun is not called for at all. And yes traditional marriages give security, but don't guarantee on love. But really thanks for sharing your views vini.

@ Vaish - dear thanks for that insight into the issue. No, i am hopeful, that this change would be faster, esp becoz of the huge financial leap this generataion has acheived, empowering them in a big way. Anyways, lets hope for the best!


Purba said...

Whether it is a live in arrangement or marriage...both require emotional commitment, love and understanding.

The pain will be as intense if the relationship fails.

A woman's emancipation stems from her ability to walk out of unpleasant relationships, to be able to take her own decisions and be strong emotionally.

The nature of the relationship is immaterial.

Nalini Hebbar said...

great post...I agree with you totally...Indian husbands are just THERE...nothing more nothing less...and the wife is just a daughter in law with no other identity

Gyanban © said...

As the classic economic theory suggests the scarcity of resources will give rise to new inventions, live in relationships are exactly the out come of that.

As we move ahead in time, we will see live in relationships will be a function of at least the following parameters -

2.Pre marriage grooming.
3.real estate costs
4.equivalent of a pre-nuptial agreement.
5.economies of scale.
6.lack of better alternatives.

each of these parameters will be subject to pros and cons, just like anything else in the society..there will be the good, the bad and the ugly of it.

Pratibha The Talent said...

which so ever govt. legalize live in relationship without prior commitment,sincerity towards relationship ,responsibility,loyalty etc etc any relationship will fail.Then why to escape from marriage .To me live-in realationships with commitment+rights=marriage .
all in all great subject u chose.gr8 job.

hitesh rawat said...

i agree...that court shld come with laws for kinds born to live in couples.....

i support live in especially cause if it works well then the divorce rate will also come down....couples would be able to judge their compatibility before committing for life........

i also hope other urban cities,at least, shld also legalize live in

"just a pen in my hand" said... touched a topic that most people always shy away from...some are just plain afraid and others ignorant of the fact that this is a truth of life and is happening right at the very moment ....i like you assertions....and i like the post....informative and assertive....very well written....Live-in relationships are not acceptable according to Indian traditions , but the key word here is's good to hold on to the great values of the yesteryears , but in this age where life is lived in the fast lanes with short cuts and compromises to achieve a greater goal being the mantra , its not very hard to imagine that this is not just a fashion statement or a representation of rebellion , nor is it a taboo anymore , atleast to the 3G generation......we live in an age where some traditions have to be moulded into something more manageable and some others, which give rise to plain simple drivel, only look good in the idiot box....well , keep up the good cr...

A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

@ Purba - Thanks dear for giving your view! I agree with all but one point. The freedom to walk out is no the same in both the relationships. In live in nobody comes to try to patch up things, unlike marriage.

@ Nalini Hebbar - thanks! That was so encouraging!

@ Gyanban - wow! well said. Agree with all, but premarriage grooming??? didnot get that.

@ Pratibha - Till now women have rihgts in Live in only to the extent of saving them from exploitation ( mainly sexual). Beyond that not much has been said by the law. But, a live in would not be based on any sincerety then of course, it will fall flat.

@ Hitesh - yes there should be a law for kids. But law alone cannot bring acceptability in society, we people have to change the way we look at it.

@ Just a pen in my hand - thank you so much for your kind words!! yes, we should change our view.


nikita said...

I personally do not support Live in relationships !!

its always good to get married if you truly are in love...

love without commitment lacks the spice of it...

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xyzandme said...

Nicely put.
I like the Indian judicial system!.. corrupt and slow as it may be..
Its still way better than many nations world wide. First and foremost it is very dynamic, It is not stagnant and keeps pace with the modern era.

About the live in relationships, I think the concept is fantastic,but shud be taken into a huge consideration given the fragile nature of attachment in such relationships.
I am a strong opponent of arranged marriage, though they have higher success rate than love marriages, its still just quantity, not quality.

live in relationships should have more judicial representation than that is available currently..

Anonymous said...

Отличная статья! большое спасибо автору за интересный материал. Удачи в развитии!!!

pheromones said...

I definitely agree that most of the relationships start because marriage is not possible or not desired at that point of time, but living and exploiting someone only for fun is not called for at all. Thank you for sharing this so informative.


Neo The Hacker said...

Rightly said pheromones (well, its so awkward to call you by that, but there are no second options). Marriages are a social contract. thats why we get married in front of the whole community. When we marry with loads of people and with much fanfare and spending so much money, we tend to think twice before leaving a person, just because we dont like the way one dress, or one talk or other silly matters. thats why society has brought up the ritual of marriage. Live-in Relations are just a contract between individuals which has no locus standii, and as you said, only highlights the fun part of man-woman relationship.

Anonymous said...

Thanks due to the fact that this nice article, it's very conspicuous blogs

Anonymous said...

Да уж Читаю и понимаю, что ничего не понимаю о чем речь:)

Anonymous said...

Я бы еще кое-чего добавил конечно же но по сути сказано практически все.

bharat chandran said...

Live in is 'live life!' but it works as long as both are free birds. Once either one start thinking of having a nest and if there is a disagreement it is going to be exactly same as a marriage - May be with an exception of legal terms. Every stage of married life, every stage of breakup, every stage of pain needs to be walked through if one is involved!

It might work as long as both can be untouchy and both are sure of it!

Else it might be no different from marriage without a legal binding!

mancards said...

Indeed live in relationship is not so applicable and yet no acceptable in the eye of the inasmuch their companionship as a couple has not blessing from God.

Build Confidence said...

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the critics said...

you have raised the question and have given answers too......its a serious topic to write in relationships just lets the individual be themselves, there is no bondage, family pressure. but in any way will it lead to aid our culture?.....we are what we are and we shouldn't loose ourselves in the name of liberty and modernization.

suppose if the relationship breaks are we all matured enough to handle the situation. will the families be happy enough to accept the situation specially think of the girl side.

if u are care free having no real worries and if u are adventurous and willing to experiment u can try on a live. if u have any kind of commitment in hand it wont suit us. especially and u mentioned what if a child has been born out of the relationship. imagine the horrible life the kid is going to have.........

Sebastian Thomas said...

Whether it is a live in arrangement or marriage...both require emotional commitment, love and understanding.

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