As surprising as it may sound, it is shown that inflation could be one of the main reasons why couples are cohabiting today.
Numerous studies throughout the years have shown a continuous drop in the marriage rate. Only in the U.S., the rate of marriages was lower by 6% in 2018.
In the early 2000s, 49% of American adults confirmed the importance of marriage before they had children, but that view seemed to have shifted quite quickly in the upcoming years.
The ratio of U.S. married adults was 60% in 1978. That ratio dropped by 30% within 40 years, and it keeps dropping each day.
Today, with the rapid shift in the economic system, there’s also a shift in the views on dating, marriage, and living by and large.
The economic system has undoubtedly had an immense impact on our practices when it comes to dating and relationships. 90% of people report an immense impact of inflation in their lives today.
There are suggestions that the real crash in the statistics of marriage happened during COVID-19.
Although people are getting married less and less each day for obvious economical and social reasons, they are taking ‘the risk’ to cohabitate with their romantic partners.
But, what exactly is pushing them to take such a step, especially considering the economic inflation and its consequences we’re experiencing?
Here’s how the studies answer our question:
1. It’s economically convenient and beneficial
One of the main reasons behind the decision to cohabitation between couples is the convenience when it comes to the financial dynamic of the relationship.
A study made by match.com confirms the logic and reasoning behind cohabitation during inflation.
Around 45% of respondents reported considering cohabitation with their partners for the sake of the economical benefits that come along with cohabitation.
In other words, cohabitation is seen as an alternative to cope with the consequences of inflation.
Considering the high prices of rent, gas, and essential food supplies, cohabiting with a partner can be a smart choice for couples.
Marriage is seen as a risk that not many are willing to take, the idea of cohabitation can be more comforting and, well, less expensive.
The benefits of moving in with your partner include
- Sharing one apartment which is easier to pay than when you’re living alone;
- Fewer expenses for long-distance relationships (e.g. travel expenses, dates, and the like);
- The opportunity to save money due to the merger of expenses;
Earlier studies have focused on this area as well showing the financial benefits and convenience as one of the reasons why couples move in together.
Despite the convenience, (NSFH, 1987-88), it was found that only 25% of people who lived together saw it as a vital reason to move in with a partner.
As more studies were conducted throughout the years, (2009), financial convenience still wasn’t seen as the primary drive for individuals to move in with their partners.
The pandemic and inflation gave the relationship a complete shift, altering the way our society views and practices dating and relationships.
Although economical convenience wasn’t the main drive to move in with a partner at the time, now it has become a substantial reason behind cohabitation.
2. “It just happens” – It’s seen as an informal way of formalizing a relationship
Cohabitation has gradually fused into the unspoken and socially constructed steps and rules of a romantic relationship.
Research in 2014 has also shown that a large number of respondents have reported naturally and gradually moving in together with no prior discussion or elaboration on the issue.
Despite the year of the study conducted, this reasoning behind cohabitation is still relevant as it is being integrated as a part of the ‘dating stages’.
In a published study in 2019, it was found that for 90%-60% of respondents the main reason for moving in together was love and companionship.
While for 63% of the respondents moving in was considered a form of giving the commitment a formal aspect within the relationship.
All in all, the standards that are socially constructed play a cosmic role in our drives and decisions when it comes to relationships.
Moving in together has been seen as one of the fundamental – even though technically informal – ways to formally decorate a committed relationship.
3. Settling for marriage and kids
Studies found that another common ground for moving in together is the drive for marriage and/or kids.
Generally, couples who have matched future plans are seen as more compatible, which increases their likelihood of long-term commitments such as cohabitation, marriage, or children.
A study made in 2019 showed that 31% of respondents were moving in together because they saw themselves having children with that partner someday.
Another research made back in 1997 (Surra and Hughes) highlighted the difference between the reasons to cohabitate, specifically relationship-driven versus event-driven.
What makes the difference between the two reasons is that the former is related to the couple’s aim and intent for the benefit of the relationship, while the latter is related to events that force the couple to move in together such as pregnancy.
With that distinction being made, the impact of the event-driven reasons is undeniable as one of the main drives for couples to move in today is the harsh reality shaped by inflation.
However, for many years relationship-driven motives such as marriage, spending life together as a couple, or having children behind cohabitation are undeniably present and highlighted in recent studies as well.
4. External reasons: It’s seen as a practical solution
Another common reason behind cohabitation between couples is the financial, practical, and situational conveniences.
Besides the indisputable financial conveniences that come with cohabitation, couples see another side of it: practicality.
Experts in previous studies have highlighted the negative effects of distance such as costs and the reduction of relationship benefits.
According to research made in 2009 regarding cohabitation, one of the external reasons considered were the practical ones such as not having to move your stuff around from your place to your partner’s every time you visit.
The convenience of cohabitation was also seen as one of the main reasons why it was seen as the right thing to do by 37% of the respondents in a 2019 study.
For long-distance couples, there’s yet that extra event-driven reason to move in together as the distance is often seen as a jeopardizing factor in romantic relationships.
Moving in together, besides a romantic way of an attempt to solidify the relationship, is also largely seen as a practical solution, the studies show.
5. Testing the relationship
Another prevalent reason to move in together couples is the willingness to test the relationship.
This is a reason that’s been present for years and years.
In earlier studies, (1991) testing the relationship and the compatibility between the couples was seen as an important reason to live together by more than 50% of the respondents.
The studies made throughout the years continuously show that the belief that cohabitation tests compatibility and the relationship itself is largely spread.
Whether it is testing the relationship before marriage or before a formal long-term commitment, in a 2019 study, cohabitation is seen as a test by 23% of individuals cohabiting with their partners.
The cohabitation period is seen as a practice to clear the uncertainties between the couple before they settle for a full-on commitment such as marriage.
Sure, the idea of testing a relationship through cohabitation can seem comforting for those practicing it, but how effective is it in actuality?
What are the risks that come along with cohabiting?
A large number of studies have shown that cohabiting for ‘the wrong’ reasons can expose a relationship to the risk of destruction.
As much as it can be seen as beneficial, recent studies show that cohabitation can be a highly threatening factor for barely-standing relationships.
According to those studies, cohabitation can put the future marriage of that couple to risk for various reasons that include (but are not limited to):
- Due to the lightness of commitment required when moving in compared to a marriage you’re more likely to move in with a partner you don’t know much about which can bring relationship problems harshly to the surface;
- There are higher odds of violence, the studies show. In cohabiting relationships, women are 9 times more likely to be killed by their partner than in a formal marriage.
- Research throughout the years has shown a 50% rise in the risk of divorce related to cohabitation.
The uncertainty of the times, we’re living in keeps affecting every single aspect of our lives, and relationships and our views on them keep shifting.
Considering that the risk for divorce is higher in cohabiting couples due to ‘event-driven’ reasons, what could that say about the future of romantic relationships?
While we keep focusing on ourselves, and our mental and physical well-being, the way we practice love and dating has altered tremendously throughout the years.
Sure, being single, independent, and alone is socially glorified and adored. But the financial situation around the world is already having an impact on relationships and dating practices.
Moving in with a partner because it’s the best financial choice for you two as individuals can be considered an event-driven reason to cohabitate.
If you’ve got marriage in mind, that reasoning alone puts your marriage at risk before it even happens.
With the low rate of marriages and the increase in living expenses, the cohabitation rate was expected to drop.
Apparently, inflation presents another strong reason for cohabitation rather than a repulsing factor to the thought of it.
Did we find a smart solution to this issue, or are we shaping the future of dating that’ll shift our perspectives on it forever?
Why are couples moving in together despite the inflation? – References
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National Center for Health Statistics