What’s it like to be in a live-in relationship in India? Couples tell us

While many don’t approve of live-in relationships in India, there are still a few who prefer the arrangement. Know from them what it is like to live together as an unmarried couple in India:

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What it is like to be in a live-in relationship in India. Here's what couples have to say:

As I write this article, my best friend, who lives with her live-in partner, is on a video call. A cat has snuggled up beside her and she is trying to find her specs. She feels that the last four years have been incredible and she is at peace living with her partner.

In the process of collectively demonising live-in relationships, we often forget to ask couples how they feel about the arrangement, the positives, and the negatives of staying together. To understand that, we decided to speak to couples who live in with their partners without getting married in a few metro cities. In most cases, the reason was the same – They wanted to stay together to check how it goes before committing to each other for life.

Meenakshi, a 32-year-old independent woman from Mumbai, who wanted to keep her identity anonymous, told us what it is like to live with her partner. “After meeting him once, I decided to live with him to see how it goes, since we both were not sure of what we wanted. We are exploring life together. While it is a struggle sometimes, still we are happy to have each other’s company.”

For Arun Bhatia and Ravi Roy, moving in together happened organically. They were seeing each other for three years and finally decided to test the waters together. “We both are content creators and living in together has not just helped us emotionally but also financially. We help each other with shoots. It’s not easy for same-sex couples to find a place in society but we have created our happy little world together,” Roy told financialexpress.com.

Living together is a must before you tie the knot

Sujana Gurung, a 31-year-old journalist has been living with her childhood boyfriend Swastik for over four years now. “It was all organic. When we decided to live together, it was scary in the beginning to adjust to each other’s routine. However, with each passing day, it got easier. Little things – like cooking together, watching a film after a long tiring day, or just sharing details of how our day was, make us happy. We have been dating each other for over 12 years now. While our parents are supportive, we don’t want to put a tag on our relationship anytime soon. And that’s the beauty of it. I would suggest that every couple should try living together before they tie the knot. That’s the way they can understand each other better.”

No-tag required

“We are living as a couple already and we don’t need a tag from society.” Veronica (name changed) feels the same. She lives with her partner Arunava for a couple of years. “My parents are not supportive and I didn’t want my partner to get involved in the family drama which cannot be avoided if we decided to marry. I am now able to live with the person I love handling relationships as a daughter-in-law.”

While a ‘live-in relationship’ is not a new concept, people have recently started discussing it. For this story, I had requested couples in my friend list on Facebook to get in touch and to my surprise, many people replied.

It’s not always a happy deal

Jyoti Gazmer, 28, who lives with her partner Swarnendu Bose, 29, gave us another perspective. She said that it’s not always a bed of roses when you live with someone and it’s a lot of adjustments. “No, the weather isn’t always so bright and cheerful. Though the intensity of love may grow, it does not preclude the fact that there will inevitably be disagreements and arguments. I would suggest that taming your less-than-ideal qualities requires a never-ending set of conscious decisions and actions to rein in destructive emotions like rage and impatience. Changing the way, you present your flaws to your partner is your job when you share a living space.  If you’ve decided to travel this path together, then it’s important to walk in unison; if one partner remains unflinchingly level-headed and calm during a disagreement without so much as raising their voice, you should make the effort to similarly control your rage and meet them in the middle.”

Societal judgment – Does it matter?

Digital content creator Divesh Tolani, who has recently moved in with his longtime boyfriend Atulan Purohit told us that it’s not a simple decision to move in with someone. Tolani told financialexpress.com’s Eshita Bhargava, “Moving in was a big step for us, from all possible angles. We have been in this relationship for 3 years now and have been through so much growth and so many changes together. But, it’s not all so easy to decide. A lot of factors are to be considered, right from how our families will be okay with us leaving them, to their son moving in with another man. Societal judgment is and has been the least of our concerns, but having an out-and-proud social media page doesn’t help with the risks of not being allowed to rent a space. After many such factors, obviously, finances are something everyone should consider. So, we’ve been taking our sweet time to find a space we can call our home. With time, like everything else, we’ll figure this step of our life too.”

Are live-in relationships legal?

As per the law, nothing can stop a couple – straight or from the community – from living together in India. In 2010, the Supreme Court of India dismissed 22 cases filed against south Indian actress Khushboo for allegedly promoting pre-marital sex among women. Article 21 of the Constitution of India safeguards our personal liberty, allowing us to live with whomever we choose to.

While the law is not stopping couples to live together without getting married, it’s often the societal gaze that can make partners uncomfortable.

Financial help

The best part about moving away from home is that you learn to be independent and you grow as a human being. If you decide to move in with someone you love – It’s another level of commitment. When you live alone, it is not easy to manage expenses, however, when you start living with someone, it gets divided. You both share house rent, electricity, groceries, and other expenses. That’s not all, you support each other emotionally. If that doesn’t prepare you for married life, nothing will.

Evolution as a human being

Deepika Thapa, a 29-year-old journalist, who met her partner Jugal Krishna, a 32-year-old PR professional, in Mumbai, said, “We moved in together just before the pandemic. The initial days were difficult as we were trying to understand each other but eventually, things got better and we started liking each other’s company. We decorated our house together, cooked food, binge-watched Netflix, managed finances, and whatnot,” Thapa explained.

Finding someone to talk to

A relationship is not just about sex. You need someone to talk to, to spend time with, and discuss life with after a hectic day at work. Being with someone you love is a reminder to slow down and just be happy. 27-year-old Aparna did not believe in love and had major trust issues until she met Adarsh, a 30-year-old architect. “The decision to live together was not easy. I had bad relationships in the past and was scared to trust someone again. However, it was the best decision I ever made in my life. We vibe on a lot of things – Food, sleeping pattern, choice of films, love for animals… I know he has my back and that makes me happy.”

Emotional and physical intimacy

One thing that we all would agree on is – There cannot be physical intimacy without the emotional aspect. Living in with someone in their physical space all the time contributes to emotional intimacy. It is special when your partner puts in extra effort to make you feel special – This can be as simple as ordering food or selecting a film to watch together.

Is it all gold?

The answer is NO. Living in has its share of lows. It’s not easy for unmarried couples to find a house together, especially if you represent the Community. Weird questions like – Are you a couple? Your parents approve of this relationship, Is this your permanent partner, What about getting married, etc. are often asked. The pain of house hunting is real. Neeti Joshi who moved with her partner Jatin in Bengaluru told us, “People scrutinize everything if you are not married. Neighbours blame us for every wrong thing happening around them, for no reason.” It doesn’t end there – In  case you are lucky enough to find a house, the neighbours will be there to add the cherry on top of the cake.

Taking each other for granted

Another aspect of living in together is that your partner might start taking you for granted. In case, your relationship is new, avoid making big investments together or making a huge deposit for an apartment as that will make it difficult for you to walk out if it doesn’t work out. Don’t have joint accounts, at least until you’re sure you’re there. You can always use Splitwise or other free online tools to help you keep track of bills and other shared expenses.

Too many choices

People are spoilt for choices – Instead of working on their relationship, compromising, and adjusting with each other, it’s easier for them to end a relationship and then start a new one in less or no time.

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First published on: 22-12-2022 at 09:15 IST
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