If recent rumours of the Bollywood actress contemplating moving in with her producer boyfriend are true, we wondered whether it's the right decision for her and others keen to take their relationship to the 'next level'. Experts share advice on the 'live-in VS marriage dilemma'

Rumour mills went into overdrive about the possibility of B-Town actress Vidya Balan moving in with beau Siddharth Roy Kapur, last week.

While the actress confessed to being in a relationship with Siddharth, she rubbished rumours of a live-in arrangement.

We, however, could not help wondering whether moving in before marriage is a good idea for any couple hoping to take things to the next level.

"Not all relationships culminate in marriage. Similarly, there's no guarantee that a live-in arrangement will necessarily end in marriage," says clinical psychologist Seema Hingorrany.

"It boils down to compatibility, understanding and communication between partners," explains Hingorrany.
Psychiatrist and marriage counsellor Rajiv Anand, however, says opting for a live-in arrangement does impact the success of a successful marriage if the couple decides to tie the knot.
"By living together under the same roof, partners get to know each other better. They are able to test the strength of their relationship and see if the longing diminishes," he says.

Perhaps not the best news, given that an increasing number of couples are opting to live in, post the Supreme Court ruling in March 2010 that said it is not an offence for two adults to live together. 

Pros and cons
Anand agrees that live-ins come with their advantages. "If the couple is honest about their intentions, goals, interests and responsibilities, it provides them an opportunity to become familiar with each other," he says, cautioning, "Provided they respect each other's boundaries, moods and decisions."

Things can, however, get messy if the couple takes each other for granted. "They can become careless about things like keeping the bathroom dry for the other person, which can lead to arguments."

The danger of consistently arguing over petty issues, post the initial euphoria of the relationship fades, is a reality  for any couple.

Hingorrany believes that the feeling of financial and emotional security is far greater in a marriage, which can lead to strain in the relationship, particularly if one or more of the partners are seeking more commitment and/ or reassurance.

Mind VS matter
Sexologist and senior relationship counselor Rajan Bhonsle, however, disagrees that marital status can determine the success or failure of a union, and says it has more to do with the way a heterosexual man and woman approach a relationship.
"Male sexuality is body-oriented. Female sexuality has to do with the heart and emotions," he elaborates.
Past studies, says Bhonsle, have indicated that 'novelty' and 'commitment phobia' are the main reasons for 60 per cent of men choosing a live-in relationship over marriage.

"A man usually opts for a live-in since the concept is like a dress rehearsal before the show, which is appealing since it gives him the opportunity to test the waters," adds Bhonsle.

Hingorrany does not agree entirely. "Psychologically, men who opt for a live-in over marriage are having second thoughts or at least considering the flip side of a conventional set-up," she says.

Women, on the other hand, choose a live-in relationship to predict their partner's future behaviour, and to decide whether or not they are suitable for marriage, says Hingorrany.

Women are also more likely than men to get into the arrangement with the hope of the relationship culminating in marriage.

"Women experience more guilt, and have far more negative beliefs about marriage than men. Men tend to move on faster."

When is the right time?
If you are looking to take your relationship to the next level, experts advise that you first determine your level of commitment. "Living in does not only mean sharing physical intimacy.

It also means helping and bringing the best out in each other, so that you can both cultivate a long-lasting relationship."

"In reality, every relationship needs much more than two willing bodies to cling," concludes Anand.

5 questions to ask yourself before you move in
You are on your way, if you can answer 'yes' to these five questions

Am I willing to accept that the relationship might not culminate in marriage?
Am I ready to accept my partner with all his/ her faults/quirks?
Am I prepared to be judged by society and take responsibility for my lifestyle choice?
Have I had a chat with my partner about money?
Have we agreed upon how household responsibilities will be divided?