Cohabiting relationships break up all the time, and increasingly so, but the relative difference is the point. All other things being the same, a couple who is cohabiting will have a harder time breaking up than a couple who is only dating.
Because many people cohabit before even having mutual clarity about commitment, such as through engagement or marriage, some people end up staying in relationships, including on into marriage, that they otherwise would have left behind.
Many people slide into situations that make it harder to end a relationship before they have made a clear decision about what is best. The situation looks quite a bit different for those who have strongly clarified mutual commitment to the future before moving in together, such as by being engaged or even—gasp—being married.
Reference: Testing a Relationship Is Probably the Worst Reason to Cohabit by Scott Stanley.
Scott M. Stanley is a research professor at the University of Denver and fellow of the Institute for Family Studies (@DecideOrSlide). Galena K. Rhoades is a research associate professor at the University of Denver.
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