An article written by
Sania Asif:

Many people are quite clear about their desire for a romantic partnership that has a sustainable, long-term future. For some, it is a great need that occupies a good deal of their time and energy. But some people are simply not interested in a permanent partnership; they prefer single status and live accordingly.

Sania Asif is a Clinical Psychologist, working at Willing Ways, Karachi. She did her Masters in Clinical Psychology from the Peshawar University. Now she is preparing for PMDCP course. During her education she got opportunity to visit psychiatric wards, OPD and NGOs dealing with addiction, Down’s syndrome and psycho-social problems.

Editor: Haroon Christy

Problems can arise for certain individuals when they are unsure or confused about their needs. These people may send mixed messages to those with whom they develop relationships. Interestingly, they tend to find partners who seem to accept their ambivalence, rather than demand clarity and relationship definition early on.

Sumaira and her long-term boyfriend Arif began dating in 2012 and moved in together in 2014. Sumaira, now 35, has long assumed that she and Arif would be together permanently, get married, and eventually have a family. But Arif, it seems, was quite comfortable with the existing arrangement and, despite occasional comments about their future together, showed few signs of wishing to advance the relationship. When Sumaira began to feel concerned about their union, she discovered that while she wanted a spouse, Arif was quite content to have what we came to call “a permanent girlfriend.” 

Similarly, Sara and Kashif have been together for four years and treat themselves like “an old married couple,” except for the fact that they are not married, and that topic is a hot-button issue for them. Kashif, 45, has never been married but is eager to become a Sara’s husband. Sara, twice-divorced and suspicious, is reluctant to “do this again” for fear that it might wind up like the first two and be a “third failure.” She encourages Kashif to remain interested in the possibility of eventual marriage as the natural destination of their relationship, but otherwise tends to resist his efforts to press the subject, let alone make plans to secure their future together. When Kashif says, “I love you and I want to be with you forever,” Sara tends to respond with comments like, “Isn’t what we have good as is? Why mess with success by getting married?” or, “Why don’t we just leave well enough alone?”

Both Arif and Sara are in ambivalent relationship. They want the relationship, and even seem to want it to be permanent. They act and feel like half of a typical marital relationship, and yet they resist the marriage. People like Arif and Sara, used to say things like, “If I don’t get married, it’s easier and cheaper to leave if I ever feel the need to do so,” or “I’m never really sure about the ‘forever’ thing, so why risk it by agreeing to a life sentence?”