Tuesday, August 2, 2011

“Stayover” Relationships Preferred Over Long-Term Commitments

“Stayover” Relationships Preferred Over Long-Term Commitments

by Drucilla Dyess

The new dating trend for young American couples clearly shows a preference for short-term commitment versus long-term. Engaging in a “stayover” relationship not only provides an easy out if the relationship deteriorates, but also allows each partner freedom from the entanglements of living together or getting married. These are the findings of a new study from the University of Missouri-Columbia that was recently published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
A stayover relationship is one in which dating couples spend three or more nights weekly together, while opting to spend the remaining nights of the week in their own homes.
In a news release, study author Tyler Jamison, a doctoral candidate in the human development and family studies department at the University of Missouri, said, “Instead of following a clear path from courtship to marriage, individuals are choosing to engage in romantic ties on their own terms without the guidance of social norms.” She then added, “There is a gap between the teen years and adulthood during which we don’t know much about the dating behaviors of young adults. Stayovers are the unique answer to what emerging adults are doing in their relationships.”
Recent U.S. census data indicates that people are getting married later. The findings of the new study help to provide at least part of the explanation for this. Many young people are opting for completing their education and getting established in their careers prior to tying the knot and starting a family.
Jamison and study co-author Lawrence Ganong interviewed a number of college-aged adults who were engaged in committed, exclusive relationships, and uncovered several reasons for the growing stayover trend. Findings of their analysis showed that comfort and convenience appear to be the main advantages of stayover relationships, as they allow both partners to maintain some degree of control over the pace of their relationship as well as over their personal possessions.
Jamison explained, “As soon as couples live together, it becomes more difficult to break up. At that point, they have probably signed a lease, bought a couch and acquired a dog, making it harder to disentangle their lives should they break up. Staying over doesn’t present those entanglements.”
The study findings also indicated that among those in stayover relationships, couples did not have any definitive plans to either live together or to get married. Jamison pointed out, “Many college-aged adults are students who will soon be facing a transition point in their lives. Most students do not have a definite plan for where they will live or work after graduation, and stayovers are a way for couples to have comfort and convenience without the commitment of living together or having long-term plans.”
The stayover couples are not truly in a different form of relationship, but that it’s simply something that they do while dating. Jamison said that none of the couples saw themselves as cohabiters no matter how many nights weekly they spent together. She commented, “It is interesting how separate they felt about their living arrangements to the point where they would act like a guest in the other person’s place.”
Conclusions of the report include the fact that stayover relationships are something that couples can do that has a lot of benefits without having to face a lot of consequences. There doesn’t seem to be any long-term consequences of engaging in stayover relationships, and in fact, it’s doubtful that it has major implications for later commitments or marriages.
The next step is to expand the research to look at unmarried parents due to a suspicion that people of all ages, and many circumstances engage in stayover relationships.

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