Thursday, February 07, 2008

Case Study II - Can A Live-In Relationship Make Space For More Than One Lover?

Ramaya and Dev met at a common friend’s birthday party and fell in love instantly. Although Ramaya was traditional and reserved, within days she gave in to Dev's amorous advances. In less than a month they began to live in with each other. Many of their friends were surprised and doubtful about how long they would last together. The difference between them was the length and breath of a sea. Although Ramaya was a widely traveled person, she was a very traditional woman who loved her roots. Dev on the other hand was individualistic and rather western in his thinking. But the combination seemed to work. Dev was accommodating and could adjust to any circumstance. He blended his ways with Ramaya’s and in fact quite enjoyed her traditional ways. But as the years passed, the same Dev began to find Ramaya a bit stifling. He needed more space and freedom to be who he was. He felt he had made too many compromises to be with Ramaya, even adjusting his personality to fit hers. He was feeling suffocated. He needed to open up his relationship to many more friends, both from his side as well as hers.

In the meantime, as if hit by a sudden bolt of thunder, Dev met and fell in love with Rukmini, whom he met once every week at the dancing class he ran in a posh locality of their city. Rukhmini was somewhat different. She was independent and single. She lived alone. She preferred to remain so. She was aware of Dev’s live- in relationship and while she liked Dev a lot, she was not ready to go to bed with him. She preferred him as a friend rather than anything else, at least for now.

Dev had not disclosed this to Ramaya. In fact, he did not think he needed to do that as he was after all not going to bed with Rukhmini. He wanted to include Rukhmini in his relationship with Ramaya. She could not damage his relationship with Ramaya, as his friendship with Rukhmini was a non-physical one. So after almost a year of their friendship outside, Dev finally called Rukhmini home.

It was the beginning of the end.

Ramaya was aware that for Dev, Rukhmini was a very important person. She was aware that he was especially concerned about her and that in his scheme of things, Rukhmini was not just a friend.

When Rukhmini left, Ramaya confronted Dev. He lied about his relationship with Rukhmini. He did not express the depth of his feelings for Rukhmini. Since, it was very clear to him, that Rukhmini did not want to have any physical relationship with him, he perceived that Rukhmini was not a threat at all. She was just a good friend, that’s all.

But Ramaya would not have it. She wanted Dev to break this friendship and Dev said that he was not going to do it. A friendship was more important to him than a partnership. And if she did not lay off this matter, it would end their relationship instead.


Dev is looking out of the relationship. He needs to fight his right to his individual choices of having a grounded relationship with Ramaya but at the same time, he wishes to have Rukhmini as a friend as well. Even if it has brought discord in his relationship with Ramaya, he is not ready to give Rukhmini up because, his emotions are involved here.

On the other hand, Ramaya will not have such an arrangement. By bringing Rukhmini home, Dev has opened the friendship which he has with Rukhmini for scrutiny and observation by Ramaya. She has caught on to the vibes between the two and she feels threatened. On the other hand, had Dev not brought Rukhmini home, Ramaya would never know that he has another interest. Dev would like to include Rukhmini in their relationship, as he loves both women.

But can he? Does Ramaya want this? What and why did he take this step of bringing Rukhmini home? Where would this lead him to? Is this a worthwhile struggle? Should he tell Ramaya the truth? Would she ever believe him, that even though he loves Rukhmini, they would never sleep together?

In my understanding, Dev must tell the truth to Ramaya no matter how it hurts her. Because by keeping it a secret he is hurting her more. Since, he has fallen in love with Rukhmini and it does not matter what his frienship with Rukhmini will evolve into in the future, he must give Ramaya the chance to decide on what she wants out of her relationship with Dev. His idea of opening up the relationship to others as well, does not mean that Ramaya may want to do so too. Hence in all fairness, the ball must be put in her court and Dev must accept whatever is the will of Ramaya because it is apparent that she is not up to having to share Dev with others. Least of all Rukhmini.

What is going to happen to this live-in relationship? Does live-in relationships not allow more than one lover? Does live-in relationships preempt that when ever one or the other wants, they can go scouting? Or include another? Is it worth it to release a long relationship for a new love, which does not promise a total relationship of mind and body? What should Dev do? Tell Ramaya? Or drop Rukhmini?

From another angle, was this whole psychodrama just a way for Dev to reclaim his lost independence? If he were all by himself again, independent to do as he pleased, would he drop both women in fact? And look for a new sunrise? Or would that be the perfect condition to keep his relationship with both women in tact?


Amrita said...

Marriage and relationship is about commitment. If he can 't cope with that then he better not go into it.

Love is not being served a buffet dinner.Plie your plate with what 's on show.

Julia Dutta said...

Hi Amrita,
Thanks! It was a very sharp comment and very direct. I loved it. Lessons to learn from you, Amrita.

Durgasankar Mandal said...

The conclusion had a flurry of questions! :).

I am also slightly unsure if it's OK to use those "must"s and "should"s when we are discussing about someone who is not us. We then are judging them by our standards. We then are not suggesting them the way to get out of their perceived problems, if indeed they have one, but also are compounding their problem with our injunctions. It is as if we have ready made solutions for each problem. Seems like the case of a hammer which perceives everything else in the world as a nail.

Julia Dutta said...

I am so sorry I did not see earlier. Well typically there are no solutions; only possibilities. Thanks