Live-in relationships in India

Live-in is still a fad in India, a relative niche. But many couples are opening up to this idea of sharing a quarter, a bed, sundry expenses and toothbrush maybe. 

Outside the circles of social media, live-in is still a taboo and most parents will probably never agree to it. Though live-in relationships, if looked from the couple’s perspective, appear beneficial, the real question is, are Indians ready to accept the fact that two unmarried people of opposite genders living under one roof?

India is a country where unmarried couples struggle to book a hotel, let alone hiring an apartment to live together. The landlords throw a surprised look when asked and it usually ends in a big no (followed by killer expressions that doubt your whole existence). The case is same in all places, be it metros or small towns. Eventually, couples do find an apartment, which later converts into their home sweet home.

The nuances of live-in relationships in India comprise of the apparent judgments from the society, including the nosy neighbors that advance a step further to poke their noses in your business. Not just the neighbors, even the maid, the landlord, your office colleagues, and unfortunately, some of your friends get uncomfortable too. People identify live-in relationships with sex and lots of sex. But, are live-in relationships only about sex?

As you start living with your partner, sex becomes once a day activity. Sometimes, if either of you is tired due to a 9 to 5 job, then not even once a day. Live-in relationships include adjustments, compromises, cuddling every night, going out for dates once a month, cooking your partner’s favorite dishes, and a lot of mundane activities that do not involve sex.

Live-in relationships are as similar as marriages, only that there are no divorce papers involved and usually, live-in relationships are a hidden affair. Most Indians keep their roommate a secret as they fear the outcomes of telling their parents. It is advisable to confide this secret to your parents only if you’re completely sure they would accept you living with an opposite gender.

One upside about live-in relationships from the judicial point of view is the protection of rights under the Domestic Violence Act as live-in relationships are recognized as marriages (under certain circumstances). If a child is born out of live-in relationships, its natural custody goes to the mother. If a couple living together breaks apart, the woman is entitled to alimony and gets a fair half of any property purchased collectively by the couple.

The law in India does not look at marital rape as a crime, but since a live-in couple is not married, any sexual assault is considered a crime and the punishments vary depending on the severity. Taking these points into attention, live-in relationships appear to have more advantages.

Even on a personal level, living with your partner teaches a lot about their likes, dislikes, habits, preferences, and in short, test the compatibility. If you’re looking at marrying this person, then a live-in relationship before tying the knot is like an internship — it tells you a lot about the other party before you sign the final contract. Even live-in relationships give you a taste of marriage and how it would be living with this person.

Compatibility is one of the major parameters of a happy married life and if you’re lucky enough to live with your fiancée then you would be lucky to know their sexual preferences and fetishes, which could make or break a marriage. Something as petty as adjusting the room temperature can lead to detrimental fights in the future. A live-in relationship prepares you for marriage from every angle, without the confinements of law.

Sans the judgmental looks and the fear of parents, living with your partner can be a spiritual experience, which educates you about your partner and implies whether or not you should marry this person.

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Afreen Malik

Mother of 2, a full-time writer with 3+ years of experience, love to write for If you have any opinion/suggestions about my write-ups please share them in comments below

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