Finding live-in partner in the evening of life

Finding live-in partner in the evening of life

If Saif Ali Khan and Preity Zinta endor­sed live-in relationships in Bollywood hit Salaam Namaste, it gave the youngsters to think about the concept as an option sans marriage.

A man and a woman in discussion at a meet organised in Ahmedabad. Hanif Sindhi

But in Ahmedabad, it was not youngsters but elders who were opting for live-ins and wanting to meet compatible partners to spend the rest of their lives.

Some of them were divorcees and a few were widows and widowers. At an event organised recently by the NGO, Vina Mulya Amulya Sewa, more than 1,000 applicants showed interest in looking for live-in partners. Organiser Natwar Patel said: “It was heartening to see the respo­nse. It showed that people still have not lost hope and they are looking for compatible partners.’’

He said most of the applicants were above 50 and some had crossed 65. One of the couples who opted for a live-in relation after the event is indeed elated with the decision.  “It gives us a reason to live life. Otherwise, both of us have had a past which does not encourage us to settle down further,” said 56-year-old Asha Pandya. She is living in with 63-year-old Rakesh Parekh. While Parekh is a retired bank employee, Pandya has been a housewife. Both of them realised that they were no longer wanted by their children.

“They had started their families and we were realising that they did not want us to stay with them and were looking for reasons to get rid of us,’’ said Parekh. He said it was then that he realised that he needed to stay away from his house and live in a place where there was some love, respect and peace of mind.

Parekh said: “It is then that this event happened and I realised that there were many like me, tired of their lives and looking for options, most of them were either widowers or neglected by their children.”

Parekh, who has now found a partner in Asha, said that they were financially not dependent on anyone and after six mon­ths of living together they have reali­sed that they were compatible and could spend the rest of their life together.

Another couple, who are in their late 60s, also realised that after their partners had left them, it was easier to live-in with their own age group partners. “We realised that our grown up children did not like the idea when we decided to live-in but then there was no other option. We were lonely, unwanted and had nowhere to go,” said Bhupat Patel, who has been a financially well-placed businessman and travelled around the world.

“When I read about this live-in mela, I realised that it was the best option for me. People will talk and society will also have reasons to point fingers but no one will come when I need help,” said Patel. He said that with 67-year-old Neeta Patel by his side he not only has a reason to live but also has found a good and understanding companion.

For Neeta too, it has been a win-win situation. “I did not want to remain depen­dent on my children and I have realised that they did not want me around, so when this meet worked and we started staying together. I have realised I have found not only a good person to spend the rest of my life but also someone who will respect me despite my age,” said Neeta.

For the organiser, who has been taken by surprise on the number of applicants, said: “More than 1,000 had shown their preference for finding a live-in partner who will keep them company without inviting social and legal complications associated with the marriage. Most women still prefer marriage but many say they are fine with live-in companions if they provide them financial security,” Patel said.

Patel said that those who have started living in have some good experiences to share and they have given enough reasons for others to rethink about their life. “We do get a lot of enquiries from other parts of the country as well and we do try to cater to their needs as per their demands and requirements,” said Patel.

How did Patel get the idea to hold such a meet?  He said the inspiration for this meet came to him after the Supreme Court held in a judgment that live-in
relationships are not illegal. “Before this, we had organised several alliance meets where senior citizens could find a spouse; in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Rajasthan. But this is the first time we have organised a meet for those wanting to enter into a live-in relationship,” he said.

Patel said the organisers would be monitoring the relationship status of the couples in future, and if required, would also make the men make a security deposit to ensure that the women do not get exploited. Though the meet has opened a new avenue for those in the evening of life looking for partners to lead a contented and worry-free life, lurking fears are there as to whether the experiment would succeed. But the experiences of a few couple, who have taken the bold step, appear to be encouraging and could make others to take a plunge in that direction.

(The names of the couples have been changed to protect their identity).

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