Dirge for the live-in relationship!

Dirge for the live-in relationship! Loading

I used to bad mouth marriage thinking it is marriage that writes the epitaph on all relationships. And, I thought I was super smart in side-stepping it and opting for a live-in. And, after four years of it, this is my epiphany.


Relationships rot and stink to high heaven the moment you live under the same roof. A marriage certificate or the absence of it makes no difference. You share a roof and all the good things you start amputating over time leaves a trail of stench, destruction and erosion. A bloodbath that makes The Punisher look like a class bully.


I remember a week before I ended it, we were at a resort and I was watching him in the mirror. And pretty much like Hendrik van Loon, I asked myself: who is he and where are we going?


Stranger and nowhere, said the mirror.


How does a relationship that starts with so much promise self-destruct like this? Is it that there is an expiry date embedded in it? And therefore outside of our control? Or is it simply and naturally the way of all things? Some kind of entropy, perhaps? Or is there something the couple in the relationship can do to keep it at bay?


I don’t know. All I can do is share my disaster check-list with you. And let you be the judge. I have hash-tagged them for convenience.


Two disclaimers first. One, this is largely applicable for those relationships where the intended outcome is not raising a family. It is for those who are hedonistic enough to believe that relationships are for a lot of frolic leading to a lot of fun.


Two, since I’m a woman, my fingers are pointed at the man only.



The day he stops looking good and smelling good for you, you should simply walk out. It just means he has taken you so much for granted that he thinks that he doesn’t have to strut his plumes any more. Do you know even a monogamous male bird, who is otherwise bird-brained, knows this simple home-truth that every mating season, he has to woo his long-standing mate with a spiffy plume, a cocky walk, a juicy insect or a swanky nest, else she, the female of the species, will ruthlessly vote him with her feet?


In evolution, there is no such thing as woo once and seduce for life. At least, down the pecking order. Only in the crown of creation, what a travesty!


The other red rag you should watch out for under #hygiene is when he stops saying sorry after he farts or belches. I get it that given how men fart and belch as often as they breathe in and breathe out, it must be hard to keep saying sorry because then, that really would be the only conversation they would be having with you. But here’s the thing: When they are playing footsie with you, they seem to fart and belch sparingly. I don’t know whether the female, with her proximity, induces some chemicals in their gut because of which methane production goes into an overdrive. But boy, you start living under the same roof and this thunder sure dampens even the most ardent breast!


They lift their glutes from the ottoman they are perched on, they enrapture their look and they fill the room with the sound and smell show. Whoa!


The third red flag you should watch out for under this hashtag is when he stops shutting the bathroom door for a pee. Again, I get it that the male is running the affairs of the world and has no time to sit down and pee, but surely the affairs of the world can wait for that split second for him to shut the door? You don’t think so?


The last red flag, and this by far is the clincher, is when he says, let’s make dirty dirty love, because he’s too lazy to have a shower. That’s when you know you have been taken fully, painfully, irretrievably for granted and the pall-bearers are waiting to inter your relationship.


#Kids from previous marriage and other relatives:

This is a landmine. May be you have never met the brat. May be you have and decided to avoid like the bubonic plague. But the day he says, darling you and I need to be ‘family’ to set my wayward grown-up on track, don’t even wait to pack your stuff. Scoot in your bathroom chappals.


Same with other family members. You may be the embracing kind, but don’t. Just keep telling yourself that you are in it for him and the supposed frolic he is supposed to bring into your life. So, don’t you dare embrace his family. Because, if you do, before you say jackshit, they will start treating you like a bahu!



This is a painful one. There was a time when words bubbled like over enthusiastic champagne between the two of you. Now it’s the rot that is frothing. He’s lost in his mobile. You’re bingeing on Netflix on your tab. And, even a discussion on weather seems forced and full of frisson. Man, that single shared roof – how it sneaks up on you and screws up your happiness!



When you are dating, it’s a delightful geometric progression. When you live together, it becomes arithmetic regression! There comes a time when sex becomes an event, much like the sighting of the super moon, in your life. And that is when you know that even a live-in has become frighteningly like a marriage. Download the app Runtastic and, what are you waiting for? RUN!



When you first met and he lit up a cigarette, why didn’t you walk away? It’s a no brainer darling, men don’t know that you may be poor in math but you’re ridiculously on point when it comes to keeping track of their cigarettes and pegs! I can write tomes on his self denial. Berate him all you want for abusing his body, but when he says, I will give up the day I want to give up, you know you fought a losing battle. From the first minute you saw him lighting his cigarette, downing his fifth peg of vodka, know it woman that it is all loaded against you. You aren’t the first idiot who thought you could save him!


And then one day, you say I’m gonna hide the bottle. And do. And he comes after you, triumphantly pulls it out of its hiding place and says, you forget I was married to an alcoholic, I know how to sweep the house for bottles! You look at him, bile rising, pick up your phone, open Cleartrip and book your way out. Nothing builds intolerance for addictions as much as living together.


#Unkempt look:

When you first met him and saw his unruly hair and unironed kurta, may be you thought it was cute that the man had so little vanity. Live with him and you will soon realize that you’d rather be with a guy who perpetually preens in the mirror than one who is mistaken for a hobo! Nothing cures you of your romantic notions faster than a shared dwelling place!


So there, that’s my A list of the dirge, that funereal song, for mourning the death of the relationship caused by live-in. Don’t marry. Don’t live-in. Don’t die-in.




Nandini Vaidyanathan is the founder of Carma Connect (www.CarmaConnect.in) which mentors entrepreneurs, teaches entrepreneurship in ivy league business schools across the world, writes on entrepreneurship (has written two best sellers), climbs and treks. She loves to live life on her terms, using her discretion and not someone else’s.

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