'Pretending' to Be Married Is Latest Relationship Craze

When I was in college, the thought of living with my then boyfriend and playing house totally excited me. I wanted the 2.3 kids (though I never understood the 0.3), the dog, and the white picket fence. I wanted us to share bank accounts as well as our hopes and our dreams.

When we graduated from the same university, we both moved to New York City. We never made it to the joint checking account, although we did stay together for nine years. We dated. He lived on the Upper East Side and I lived in Gramercy Park. We kept our own places, but stayed together, on average, five times a week. We didn't have a label for what we were doing. We were in a relationship and the only question was: "Am I sleeping at your place tonight, or are you sleeping at mine?" 

Today it's called a stayover relationship. It's also being called "the new marriage," but really it's just 20-somethings dating. 

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What's the definition of a stayover relationship? It's monogamous. It's for college-educated couples in their 20s. It's defined as spending between three to seven nights together, while maintaining separate residences. As far as this being news, it isn't anything new. 

According to researcher Tyler Jamison, stayover relationships are "a pretty stable and convenient middle ground between casual dating and more formal commitments like living together and getting married." Isn't that what happens when you're dating and in your 20s? It's what happened to me, and what happened to a lot of my friends before they decided to settle down. More young adults are waiting longer to get married. Stayover relationship or not. Especially city-folk in their 20s who are realizing that a career is as important to them as a romantic liaison.

Sure, if you live in New York, San Francisco, or Chicago, shacking up seems like an economical way to go. But if being economical isn't your concern, freedom may be your biggest priority. After graduation is the best time to assert your independence, after all; you're out of your parents' house and making your own money. These are obvious reasons to enjoy the best of both the single and the coupled world. 

Stayovers may be the answer for what happens to couples in their 20s who aren't following a clear path from courtship to marriage. But really, how is this different than what I was doing more than a decade ago?

Have you ever been in a stayover relationship?


Image via gusilu/Flickr

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