How Different Are Live-In Relationships in India ?


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Live-in relationships are rising exponentially in India compared to the last decade due to the change in the dynamics of the relationships. Up until the previous generation, marriage was considered as the only route to seek out companionship in the longer run.

That has changed with the born of dating apps and younger people breaking the old norms of the society by doing what fits right according to their definition of ‘relationship’. Hence, the concept of live-in is still new to the people of this country as compared to the west.

Younger people prefer live-in relationships as a testament of compatibility before making a huge commitment of living with each other for their whole life. It includes all the shared responsibilities which occur between a married couple but with more freedom and liberty. In case, if it doesn’t out work out between the couple due to some issues which were not foreseen, one can walk out of it any time.

There is not any legal burden involved while splitting as juxtaposed to marriages which involves divorce which is tiring financially as well as emotionally. Not just younger couples, but older people who have lost their spouses and couldn’t get married due to various plausible reasons celebrate this type of relationship.

The essence of being in live-in relationships is also greeted by people who don’t like to put labels on the bond they share with a person. People who are polygamous, bisexual, and non-committal can easily be with someone rather than feeling left out all the time.

Why Indian Society Is Against This?

This is a country where love is divided between caste, creed, color, religion, and sex. Marriage is considered more than two people sharing their lives, as an institution, as a necessary next stair up in the staircase of life.

Most people don’t support the idea of living together before marriage due to various reasons, one being among-st that is intimacy. In India, sex is considered a taboo to be openly discussed, hence, it spindles the brains of the people by the mere thought of two adults having consensual sex.

The people would assassinate the other person's character as someone cheap, irresponsible, and devoid of family values. The children who are born out of such marriages are not also accepted by society due to the same reasons.

The live example of this was seen when an all-round player of the Indian Cricket Team announced early pregnancy with his fiance. The moment the post was out on the internet, people started harassing him by abusing and labeling him as a loose person.

 Indian people do not respect the individuality and living choices of a person as it is spoon-fed to a person from an early stage that it is essential to living according to what other people say rather than making your choices on your own.

Live-in is considered as a concept that is inspired by the west, where all people are assumed to be hippies and that they don’t have any moral values. Hence, live-in is seen as a threat to the traditional values of Indian households where it would encourage more people to not get married and commit a sin.

However, people don’t realize the fact that traditional values are like a wormhole staring in their eyes but they don’t want to look at it.

It is believed that India has lower divorce rates among-st other countries around the world due to the established grounds for the marriage. However, the biggest loophole lies in their so-called traditional values that teach a person, most of the time to obey and compromise so that a marriage can stay intact despite all the indifference.

The last generation only wanted to survive, albeit unhappiness. But, millennial’s and Gen-Z’s wants to live their life more than just surviving it which creates a demarcation of thinking between the older and the younger generation leaving it to be an alien concept for most people out there.


What Does Law Say About It?

It is not illegal in India to stay in a live-in relationship albeit immoral. Some laws define living under the same roof by two people.

The cohabitation of two heterosexual young adults with consent is legal.

The cohabitation between two heterosexual partners where one partner is married and entered into it with consent is legal. However, if one partner is married and another one is not and entered into it unknowingly, is a punishable offense.

There is no law which states homosexuality, adultery, polygamous, and under-age person.

However, some factors determine whether a person has been in a ‘relationship like the nature of marriage’:

1. Both the people must be living together for a considerable amount of time sharing agreement on lease of property, mere spending weekends together or one-night stands doesn't count in it.

2. There must be some joined pooling of resources and financial properties such as joint bank accounts, sharing the responsibilities of household chores, or things that can be institutionalized like marriage. In the U.S. there is a term called ‘palimony’ which is ordered by the court for financial statements or simply termed as pre-nuptial for live-ins and that is not the case in India.

3. Women are protected in such kind of relationships under the Domestic Violence Act,2005 just like a married woman. But, if the tests don't pass the conditions mentioned above, won't be applicable under this act.

4. If there are any children born out of a live-in relationship, they will be considered legal and would be entitled to the financial resources of both the parents under Section 125 of CrPC. However, couples cannot adopt while being in live-in.

5. The definition of rape in live-in relationships is another area that is very grey and vague. Long term sex will not be considered as rape by the courts but that doesn't allow the male part to have unlimited access to the female for pleasure.

Consent from the female counterpart is to be taken every time unlike, in marriages, where men are naturally given consent to have sex with women anytime. If consent is absent at any point of time, the female can apply for rape in court.

If you want to read more about marital rape and laws related to it, click here.

The moral definition of live-in relationships should not be guided by the perception of the society rather by the individual itself. If it is counted legal by the judiciary then, it must be seen with the utmost respect. The things which are required to be in a relationship are trust, love, and companionship which weigh far more than judgments of anybody to be taken into account.


Written By - Chavi Goel

Edited by – Adrija Saha

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