Sandeep wrote one of our most popular posts on this topic. There was a survey that showed some correlation between pre-marital cohabitation and divorce. Sandeep said its probably just a selection effect.
First, suppose one partner is reluctant to get married and has doubts about the relationship. More information would be helpful to decide whether to stay together or break up. If the couple cohabit, that will give them valuable information. On the other hand, couples who are more confident about their relationship are more likely to get married straight away. Hence, more stable couples are less likely to live together before marriage than less stable couples. Living together per se is not the problem. The real problem is that a deeper source of instability is correlated with cohabitation.
Second – and this theory is implicit in the research – more religious couples are less likely to get divorced and less likely to live together before marriage. Again, selection explains the data and not cohabiting per se.
Now the Internet is back again with a new theory: “sliding in.”
She was talking about what researchers call “sliding, not deciding.” Moving from dating to sleeping over to sleeping over a lot to cohabitation can be a gradual slope, one not marked by rings or ceremonies or sometimes even a conversation. Couples bypass talking about why they want to live together and what it will mean.
As in, no-sliding-in before marriage. Because if you do, you might actually get locked in:
Sliding into cohabitation wouldn’t be a problem if sliding out were as easy. But it isn’t. Too often, young adults enter into what they imagine will be low-cost, low-risk living situations only to find themselves unable to get out months, even years, later. It’s like signing up for a credit card with 0 percent interest. At the end of 12 months when the interest goes up to 23 percent you feel stuck because your balance is too high to pay off. In fact, cohabitation can be exactly like that. In behavioral economics, it’s called consumer lock-in.
Does this make any sense? Isn’t a couple who goes straight to the sliding in before getting married ultimately just as locked in as a couple who completely abstains from sliding in until they are locked in by the bonds of wedlock?