Cohabitation occurs when a couple chooses to live together and form a romantic relationship while remaining unmarried. Researchers began paying more attention to this living situation as the number of cohabiting couples began increasing since the turn of the century. Researchers differentiate the types of cohabitation in their studies.
Limited cohabitation occurs when a couple becomes romantically involved and begins spending more time together. Limited cohabitation is a natural occurrence when a couple begins spending the night together at one of their homes. This form of cohabitation can result in marriage. Alternately, a limited cohabitation can become a substitute marriage cohabitation, a premarital cohabitation or dissolve if the relationship fails.
A premarital cohabitation occurs when a couple decide to get married but desire a trial marriage period. These couples often believe that premarital cohabitation gives them an opportunity to experience married life to determine if the lifestyle is right for them. Premarital cohabitation can result in a marriage or dissolve if the couple discovers that they are not ready to marry each other. Premarital cohabitation involves many of the pressures and responsibilities of marriage, such as fidelity and marital expectations.
Substitute Marriage Cohabitation
Substitute marriage cohabitation involves an agreement between two people to live together as if they were already married without a legal ceremony. Over the course of living together, responsibilities and expectations that are unique to their relationship will develop. People who were previously married are more likely to prefer this form of cohabitation as an alternative to marriage, especially when the previous marriage ended painfully.
No Alternative Cohabitation
No alternative cohabitation involves couples who are not legally permitted to get married, such as gay couples in most states. This form of cohabitation differs from a substitute marriage cohabitation because the option to marry is not available. Gay couples can form this kind of a long-term cohabitation relationship as a necessary union in the absence of legal marriage.
Convenient cohabitation occurs when a couple chooses to live together as a necessary alternative to living separately. This is especially common in poorer communities, where couples live together as a means of sharing living expenses. In convenient cohabitation, the romantic relationship develops from the couple's close contact. The two people have no intention of beginning a romantic relationship when they agree to live together.