Why are Live-In Relationships Such a Taboo in India?


Even while cohabitation without marriage is becoming a norm for couples in western countries, it is still a big taboo in India. Often housing societies and other residential facilities demand ‘married couples only’ or ‘family only’ policy. Unmarried couples often find it difficult to find a house to live in, and even if they find one, they face a lot of prejudices from society.

Marriage, or more specifically arranged marriage is so deep-rooted in Indian ideologies that an unmarried couple living together is considered as ‘loose character’. In India, we still even condemn romance and ‘love marriages’. Couples often have to date in secret and fear that their parents will find out about their relationships. Parents still believe that it is their duty to find a life partner for their children. In this kind of scenario, of course, an unmarried couple living together would be considered such a no-no.

In India, the institution of marriage is not based on romantic love but is considered as a natural union that the parents set up. Traditionally many couples lived without romantic love inside a marriage and produced their heirs and lived without any problems. This is still considered to be the social norm. Even if the younger generation has learned to find romance in arranged marriages, it is still considered as the union between two families rather than the individuals.

Many often believe that unmarried couples live together just for sex. To have sex without the constraints of marriage. However, that is not always the case. Live-in relationships are a great way to get to know each other and test your compatibility with your partner. It gives you financial freedom while getting to enjoy the companionship of your partner. They get to experience shared responsibilities. Moreover, the lack of a legal bond makes it easier for the partners to part ways if things do not work out. Moving out and moving on is definitely easier than a messy divorce.

But this again is an agonizing concept for the older generation since they believe that one should stay with only one partner for life. Having sex with more than one person in a lifetime is considered to be shameful and unethical. And sex before marriage is still considered taboo as well. But then there is no problem in putting two strangers together and expecting them to give them ‘good news’ soon after the marriage.

It is a person’s freedom to choose the way of life he or she has. Many often can choose a live-in relationship forever and never legalize the union. This should be considered their personal freedom. Marriage often comes with a lot of legal hassle, and social pressures. If one wants to avoid that, that is their life choice.

Live-in relationships are not illegal in India and the judicial system has even come up with certain laws that indicate that India is open to live-in relationships. So it is just a matter of time until more couples opt for this practice and society adjusts to this concept. When more people start doing something, then that automatically becomes the social norm and people stop having a problem with it. We hope that a time will come when every Indian is given the freedom to choose their partner and also choose if to tie the knot with them or just live together. 

-Poorna Krishnan

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