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Live-in relationships

Posted by Shreyans Jain Friday, 20 December 2013 0 comments

In a nation where the institution of marriage is considered sacrosanct, the very mention of live-in relationships as an alternative to marriage results in severe consequences and even lead to agitations. Even though the Supreme Court has ruled that live-in relationships are a fundamental right of Indian citizens and are not per se illegal, any tinkering with the patriarchal family set-up is regarded as anti-family. Not only are live-in relationships seen as immoral but also as an infamous product of western culture. It is a common perception among the orthodox Indian families that live-in relationships weaken the strong familial ties and encourage promiscuity.

What is conveniently ignored is the fact that this form of co-habitation provides an opportunity to both the partners to redefine their relationship and share powers and responsibilities equally. This form of relationship has the potential to check the climbing divorce rates. Often, relationships in which men tend to enslave women and condemn them to certain subordinate roles gives rise to mutual dissatisfaction and malevolence which ultimately culminates in either divorce or physical or psychological assault of one partner over the other. In other words, marriage becomes an exploitative tool in the institution of patriarchy.

In this ever evolving world, live-in relationships are acquiring ever increasing significance. Individuals are entering into this form of relationship more out of conviction than for convenience as they feel liberated and are not bound by the compulsions of predefined marital roles. Many individuals may be ideologically opposed to the idea of letting the law dictate their personal lives, while many others may feel mauled by societal pressures and tribulations. Live-in relationships can offer great respite to such individuals in pursuing a relationship of companionship unencumbered by the intrusion of property and inheritance wrangles.


Absence of legal sanctity, however, does not necessarily mean that live-in relationships be adopted as a way of life. The children born put of such relationships are the worst sufferers. Mutual conflicts, lack of authority over the ‘virtual family’ often make this relationship a burden. The exploitation of women by their live-in partners cannot be ignored. It is then that consensual acts between the partners acquire a form of penal offence. Moreover, these relationships that do not necessarily encourage an individual to sustain a family may lead to degradation of moral values and Indian culture.

Choosing a way of life is certainly an individual’s own decision. But the choice should be made out of conviction and not merely for convenience.

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