Live In Relationships – An Indian Woman’s Perspective

live-in-relationship.gifIn the last few years, education for the girl child was widely promoted by social and religious groups and also Indian 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 to marry” 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. 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.

3. 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.


  • Ashish Chandra

    As u said, it is a matter of choice that a woman exercises because of several mentioned reasons. Since it is becoming a trend especially in the educated, working lot which would constitute a significant portion of the young working class ten years down the line government should assess the situation and formulate and implement clear-cut and effective laws to avoid any kind of exploitation from any of the parties involved, namely, the man, the woman, their families and the society. Since it is a live-in relationship, stakes are not as high as that in a marriage. Therefore, there is a tendency of breaking it. In that case, there is high social stigma particularly in case of women. This can only be curbed if first of all our formal institutions accept this fact. Plus, there is acceptance from people which can come through media.

  • Ksheelak

    These live in relationships is not only due to the exposure of the women to education it is also due to the attitude of Indian men. A women would prefer to have a healthy, happy home its not the money that makes her independent . Its the control a man wants on her once she stars earning he feels his power is gone and has no control over his home. In a healthy home it is the adjustment and understanding that both can have more than the control and other issues that can make a marriage last , Even in all live in relation the same principle applies , its just our mind and the thought of being independent gives us more power to move on , it will not be healthy in long run especially for the children born out of this lve in relationship, the emotional security for a child is lost and can have long lasting effect—a women view. A women does want secured happy home. She just needs to be careful and smart to maintain a balance to avoid Indian men day to day control issues , when both work in a marriage men should also take the responsibility of helping out in the house.

  • Daringtochange

    i like th fact that now people are open about ceratain core elements of a marriage – not real soulmates!
    I do like this article however this is not just for a women or a young girl or a morden educated girl..this is also a change for all the men!
    who would you be living in with ? and how would you move on to another relationship ..and with who..answere is MAN (mostly..)

    In my opinio..there is a lot for both man and woman in changing their thinking and attitudes towards this concept !
    BUT’s a start !!!

  • Desh Kapoor

    While coming together of femininity and masculinity does create a unique energy, if handled and harnessed properly; but I would agree that if all that the marriages are leading to is negativity, then its probably better not to marry.

    What is the use of joining contractually with someone when the result is a discord. And bring kids into the world?

    Even live in relationships can become as abusive as marriages. Presence or absence of a contract may or may not be that valuable at times.

  • Somanjana C Bhattacharya

    What is the necessity of two people to come together in the first place? It’s only when one feels mentally and physically incomplete and is ready to usher another person to share his/her heart and hearth that one contemplates on a conjugal relationship. It stands true for arranged marriage as well because the people concerned are at least psychologically ready for the social experiment. It’s possible that there happens a digression from the expected norm in marital life. There could be domestic violence or emotional/physical harassments or monetary problems etc that grossly violate the sanctity of marriage but in most such cases, if not all, the problem lies with the people involved and not the system. Those people would perhaps act similarly in a live-in relationship too. The legality is rather a conducive support system maintaining a social balance.

    More than whether live-in relationship is good or bad one should question who would want to be in a live-in relationship? A person who is not sure of his/her level of commitment or wants to keep his/her option open in terms of changing partner. When someone enters an adherence in such a negative, unsure, escapist state of mind, what is the possibility of making this relationship a success? How can it possibly have a constructive influence on human bonding system?

  • A Restless Mind

    Hi Somanjana! I appreciate your point of view, which you have expressed very emphatically.

    I can sense that you take the need to be in a live-in relationship, primarily to be free to escape and change the partner at free will. But if you see Indian marriages in a wider perspective, you will appreciate that marriages here are not only based on love and commitment, but a whole lot of factors keep couple together, even when the marriage goes dead. They live on because they have no choice. Marriage is more of a social commitment, in a majority of cases than a personal one. Therefore, I am of the view that, live in provides for that ease of social burden, that social pressure, for a couple to know each other devoid of the parental pressure on them to adjust at any cost.

    Of course, no woman should not get into it without knowing a guy enough, the definition of which will differ from person to person.



  • A Restless Mind

    Hey Daringtochange! ( I like that name!)

    Glad u appreciate my point!

    Well, what u said is right. Ultimately, with Live in Indian Men or Men for that matter have to shed their preferences for a Virgin girl!

    And that would be definitely a big change in their attitude.

    am sure things will change.


  • A Restless Mind

    Hey Desh!

    Well said!

    True, a live in can also become abusive, but then, no relative of yours would tell you, when you have got hit by your partner ( read man), “Try to adjust, it happens, may be he was upset, you should not argue, try to adjust”.

    Hope u get my point, that is the edge I see in Live-ins.


  • A Restless Mind

    Very well put Ksheelak! I loved to read it!

    Ultimately the need to control their wives, makes marriage suffer big time. True, it is not money that a woman wants, but yes respect and equality.

    I firmly believe that children should not be brought in this world being in Live ins. You are inviting a soul, a life in hell.
    Our society will take decades to accept it. One should not even think about it.

    Let the first thing ( live in) get digested well by the society!


  • A Restless Mind

    Ashish, the things you have mentioned would again curb the spirit of the Live Ins. Acceptance is fine, but insitutionalizing it would be like marriage again.

    As far as law is concerned, law against domestic violence does work on Live ins in India. But property, maintenance etc, I dont think that should be done ever. Or it would be a way to exploit by both the parties.

    So girls got to be smart with their choices, is all I can say.


  • Maratha Baba

    Is Live-In possible because of the “Pill” and “condoms?” Most marriages are not perfect. You are not only married to your spouse but also to your children. 80% of marriage as institution is for children. Prem is inexpressible and so even the marriages where so called “love” is dried between couples can be successful marriages because of that 80% part which gives society healthy contributing future citizens. Personally I like to be a 20 years younger Russian Hanuman Bhakta mother while doing 90 min. Yogasana and also with a techy VP American mother. I also tell them that they motivate. When they are around 90 minutes become a song. There is sweet sensation all over the body and a current in the spine. I tell them and my wife that let us from a group and help each other grow in all respects and bring Yog into our business, family relationships and duty etc. I kept a journal and shared all my thoughts and activities. Felt very good every moment …love was truly in the air! These women start suspecting “I am falling in love.” How many times I told it is “rising in love.” What is wrong with Being-to-Being love? Why bring in male-female stuff? But they confronted me together and asked “why do you get those sensations and sparks? is it not because of we are female?” I agreed but I also got them when I was in the company of my spiritual guru, when I held my newly born children first time, saw my native place after many years or even the photographs of BhagatSingh, Rajguru & SukhDev. What is wrong in you being object of my Dharana-Dhyan? Why does that object needs to be my wife? Most of my real growth happened first few years of my life …wasn’t I looking deeply into eyes of my mother when she was breast feeding? Can’t I have similar growth, albeit in spiritual and emotional one? Wouldn’t that will help me becoming a better husband, father and a citizen? Samadhi which I will achieve will spread the bliss around? But they were saying it is emotionally taxing and their husbands would not accept or understand; it will cause pain to all and even divorces.