A reunion at a friend's place... you know those talks about everything and nothing pushed by alcohol? It turned into a 'live-in-relationship or not' debate.
The concept of live-in rel had fascinated me at one point of time. The idea of defying social norms and being in charge of my life, sexuality and all the rest of it... Wow! Or is it the sheer free-thinking spirit of it? I don't know... I was all for it. But now? The funniest bit was I never even realized that I'd changed my views on it.
My friends looked at me as if I’d grown an extra head. They couldn’t imagine how I turned some sati-savitri all of a sudden! I know around a dozen couples who are/were in live-in. And all of them were abusive; mostly physical. May be those gruesome stories changed my mind. Then someone told me that I shouldn’t generalize live-ins to be bad based on those incidents, like those uncle-aunts saying that love marriages will never sustain.
But don’t we all formulate our views based on what we/our people experience?
Incident 1: I visited my friend who was sharing a 1 bhk with her bf. She was washing 2 bucketfuls of his clothes, including undergarments. For some reason, the sight of men’s underwear always grosses me out (my problem ). Well, its not that I’m against partners doing things for one another. But she suffers from severe backpain and he knew it. Not to mention emotional abuses and all the rest of it. Basically she was not happy. But it took her a long time to break it off with him.
Incident 2: Another friend decided to move in with her bf and we all met up at Mocha to celebrate. He was amazing, funny and intelligent with a Shahid Kapoor kinda cute face. We all loved him instantly. He made us laugh nonstop. He was ever the gentleman and dropped us back to hostel.
She stopped coming to college, stopped calling us. I didn’t think much of it. Friends do take a backseat when you’re in a new relationship. 4 months later I got a call from hospital. Her mother, who thinks that her daughter is in hostel! When I went there I was shocked. She was black and blue. God, alone knows how I managed to lie to aunty...
Incident 3: In this case it’s the guy. She put a full stop to all his bloke-time after they got together. Calling him every 5 minutes even in the middle of meetings, sometimes to check where he is or see if his line is engaged. I’m already sick of giving him the same advice. Break up! But according to him, when you look at the bigger picture, this nagging counts as nothing. And he needs a bigger reason to break up. Otherwise he’d end up being the villain. Thanks to her, hes now friendless and scared of being lonely. Hes still with her, unhappy but together.
Incident 4: Its not just students whos vulnerable and cling to abusive relationships, but high-flying professionals too. In this case, he made her sever ties with all her friends and even family. He used to beat her for speaking to other guys; check her calls and emails. It took 7 months and plenty of my talktime to convince her to escape.
And I can go on and on… May be its not the fault of the live-in system. Personally speaking, I don’t think Indians are ready for this. We are still so stuck in our so-called culture, conditioning and all those crap. Even when one moves in, she has this guilt-thing that ‘I’m doing something wrong’ at the back of her mind. If you yourself are not convinced why take this step? Or is it the sex? Yea, live-in gives a perfect platform to have sex. But come on… you don’t need to move in with someone to have sex. You-are-Adult, your life, decision and all that?
Isn’t moving in a bigger step than sex in a relationship? People become so weak emotionally… Isn’t love supposed to make people stronger and push them forward? Or am I stuck in some Utopian timezone?
Here are some million-dollar dialogues from my live-in friends-
“I’m scared to break up N. Anyway I gotta get married no? What if my future husband finds about this? He will divorce me. So better I stay with this guy only even if he beats me”. Some liberalness!
“He always makeup after a fight with gifts and pampering (fight here means beating). Then I feel bad and try to move on”. Nice technique, making the abused feel bad!
“He keeps threatening to send our pics to my dad. I don’t have any escape”. Last time I checked, blackmailing is a crime even in India.
“She cries at the slightest hint of break up. I can’t handle that. I want to find a way so that she won’t be hurt”. When? In next birth?
These are the stories of my friends and college students I counsel. And I have their permission.