A new study from the University of Missouri-Columbia, published in the Journal of Society and Personal Relationships, has found that young American couples are increasingly engaging in not-quite-committed dating arrangements known as "stayover" relationships. This entails couples spending three or more nights together each week, while opting to spend the remaining nights in their own homes. This is a way of having your cake and hedging your romantic bets too. Steering clear of cohabitation and marriage allows for a convenient middle ground between casual dating and more formal arrangements, and makes for easy tie-cutting if the relationship goes south.
The increasing popularity of stayover relationships was discovered after interviews were conducted with a number of college-educated adults in "committed" relationships. Some people view this relationship fence-sitting as a selfish cop-out and flouting of traditional social norms, while others see it as an honest and practical routine. Relationship expert Aaron Turpeau casts a skeptical eye on the stayover phenomenon, saying:
"We don't want anyone hindering us from doing our thing. You hear people say it all the time: 'You do you, and I'll do me.' Unfortunately, this obsession with independence leads to unhealthy human relationships."
As the popularity of dubious-example-setting shows like Jersey Shore attests, the return of the "Me Decade" may be upon us. Recent U.S. census data informs us that people are getting married later than ever. This new study seems to explain, in part, why this is so. Young people are choosing to finish their education and establish careers before getting hitched. Turpeau adds:
"We don't value what we don't need, and we don't love what we don't value. I can say I want a relationship, but I don't need a relationship. I want a man, but I don't need a man. So we play house; we play marriage and as soon as we get tired, we go back to our own places."