"In Bhutan we just start living together and call it marriage"

Bhutan: where sex is OK

As part of some journalistic assignments, I have been working in Bhutan for the past three weeks. It’s a neighbour to India, but there’s a huge difference in the way people view sex – it’s OK to have it and talk about it too!

No big deal

My Bhutanese friends have been telling me that there’s no big deal around sex. One of them said, “We all have sex. And it’s OK. Normally people here lose their virginity around their late teens. We are very open about it,” she said.

I spotted a few ‘condom vans’ in the capital, Thimphu. The government promotes safe sex and when I saw some youngsters crowding around the van, I thought, that would never happen in India. The Indians wouldn’t promote safe sex among youngsters. Instead they would send out blaring loudspeakers to convince the youth that sex is evil as long as it’s premarital.

Living together

A Bhutanese male friend has been living with his girlfriend for the past 10 years. They have two young, beautiful children. I was wondering how being unmarried hadn’t caused them any social stigma.

“In Bhutan we don’t get married officially. We just start living together and call that marriage. It’s not a huge ceremonial declaration or anything. It’s just a simple transition from living alone to living with your partner,” he told me.

Quite obviously then, love marriages are, and have always been a norm rather than an exception. Try selling that to our upper class Indian aunties and uncles! Phew!


The country is famous for adopting the Gross National Happiness index – a measure of development that takes into account its citizens’ happiness. But that hasn’t translated into happy couples. A counsellor I was talking to said most of his clients come seeking help with their relationship troubles.

In the past few decades, the ‘divorce’ rate (since the Bhutanese label living together as marriage, naturally breaking up is divorce) has soared. I tried to work out why these divorces were rampant and simply found out that people don’t stick in unhappy relationships and move out when they are uncomfortable.

Well, so be it. Soon, I will leave this land of sexual openness for the humongous cage called India. It’s a difficult yet inevitable transition. Sigh.

Disclaimer: none of the claims made here have any scientific backing!

The views expressed in our blogs don’t necessarily represent those of Love Matters.

Which country do you think has the healthier attitude to sex, India or Bhutan? Leave a comment here or join the discussion on Facebook.

Did you find this useful?

Add new comment


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang>