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They were carefree, free-spirited and of course, with no-strings attached. For the past three years, they have consummated their love, in a very unorthodox way, by opting for a live-in relationship. Though, it was difficult to get a flat initially in Delhi, but they made it through. The girl works as a travel writer for a budding start-up while the guy is a UPSC aspirant. It’s their intellect that connected them together, bringing the spark.
But, they have their own fears. For example, the girl fears boredom, which makes her relentlessly occupy her life with innumerable tasks that polishes her intellectual acumen. The boy fears that one day; he might have to compromise on his dream of being an honest administrator, or just die without reading all the books he has collected so far in their little nest.
But one thing, which they never feared, was the society. They never cared if the society marked them ‘characterless’ or ‘spoilt-brats’. They wanted to stay together and were ready to pay the price for it.
Their story is an example of how live-in relationships are transforming the Indian society or vice-versa.
The Legal Aspect of Live-in Relationships
On November 28, 2013, the Supreme Court had held that live-in relationship is neither a crime nor a sin, while asking Parliament to frame a law for protection of women in such relationships and children born out of it. In July 2015, emphasizing that the law should evolve according to changing times, the Supreme Court said that live-in relationships, which were earlier considered to be a taboo, have now become an acceptable norm in society and should not be considered a prohibited relationship. Though, the RSS, which has gained predominant footage during the current NDA regime, calls the live-in relationships as “an act against humanity, and also against the Indian traditions and culture.”
Debate about Live-in relationships: A Façade!
In our patriarchal and orthodox set-up, it is still very difficult to accept the occurrence of live-in relationships, even in the metros.
The youngsters are often labelled as ‘morally corrupt’ or ‘character less’ by their neighbours and families. Honestly speaking, a debate like this is just a facade.
Firstly because, in metros, when you yourself have no idea who your neighbour is, what’s the point of moral crusading? Every family has its own dark corners and humiliating secrets which are always cornered. So, why treat a couple that has the guts to face the society and stay together, be considered ‘evil’ or ‘immoral’?
Secondly, it’s one’s own life, one’s own choice. Also, over the years, the belief in marriage as an equal institution has waned. Today, more importance is given to careers, goals, intellect, growth and one’s own advancement. So, if we have these variables as the markers to ‘judge’ anyone, why should their personal life face the wrath?
And ultimately, who has the right to pin-point?
House-wives staying in the neighbourhood who were never able to make a career out of their life and are staying as parasites on their husband’s money or husbands, who have been domesticated by their 9-5 working hours and have no room for growth? Or children, who as if, are looking for their mentors in everyone? Sadly, they aren’t.
What shocks the society is the ‘guts’ that is displayed! The society is still not able to accept any relationship which is not official or sacred. But what’s the point of it? Does every relationship need to pass the ‘sacred’, ‘religious’, ‘righteousness’ test? Does friendship call for such debates? Obviously no! But when it comes to live-in relationships, they are still considered a sin.
Live-in Relationships Vs Marriage
Society thinks that live-in relationships are casual, use-and-throw endeavours that youngsters often indulge in. They believe that ultimately, the girl will have to pay the price. The boy will eventually get bored and look for other women.
Well, does not that happen in marriages?
Who says that after marriages, divorces don’t take place, a girl does not suffer or a boy does not leave? But then, why to give so much importance to the male figure?
That’s what makes live-in relations more practical and equal. The girl has as much right to move out of the relationship, as much as the boy. At least, she does not have to face the trauma of a divorce, which is publicly humiliating and the tag of ‘divorcee’ is officially attached to her name.
Unlike marriage, live-in relationships are equal.
Both the partners know each other, practically rather than having a utopian idea about relationships. Also, the couples who are staying together have better understanding of each other, as compared to arranged marriages which are still a custom in India. It’s not to say that live-in relationships are the best option available for this commitment phobic generation.
They are not always the right choice. But at the end of the day, those who indulge in it, know from the very beginning what they are getting into, unlike marriages.
The current debates and concerns
However, a serious question arises in front of us- How far can this new concept go in a land of brutal honour killings and sexual harassments? Is our Indian society empowered enough to even imagine the idea of live-in relationships momentarily? Well, not only is this a matter of great concern in the middle class a stratum of the Indian society but it also is not a cup of tea for the high classes as well.
Most of the couples in live-in relationships have not divulged their reality to their parents, no matter how intellectually empowered or strong they might pretend to be from outside. There is a high iota of shame that is involved in confessing it, even today, specially to one’s parents. What comes next is obviously a lot of pain caused to the parents, who start doubting where they went wrong? And in some serious cases, it leads to unreported honour killings and unfortunate episodes.
The only answer to this is that whenever a revolution takes place, it brings with itself a plethora of troubles and hindrances, but eventually old norms deteriorate and give way to new. This is the rule of nature and live-in relationships might be in its nascent stage now but it may find acceptance someday in our Indian culture.
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