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Read: How an Insensitive Jerk Saved my Marriage One of the reasons cohabitation was linked with divorce in prior years was that poorer people tended to move in together and then slide into marriage when they got pregnant. So it might not have been the cohabitation, but the poverty that was causing the split. The situation today has changed—70% of all women aged 30 to 34 have lived with a boyfriend, according to Kuperberg, and many of them are educated and wealthy.
Sharon Sassler, a professor at Cornell who’s writing a book on cohabitation, says that the amount of time a couple dates before moving in together is important.
In fact, Lehrer’s analysis of longitudinal data shows that for every year a woman waits to get married, right up until her early 30s, she reduces her chances of divorce.
It’s possible that woman may also be reducing her chances of marriage, but Lehrer’s research suggests later marriages, while less conventional, may be more robust.
“The take-home implication is that our brains are sensitive to signs that the people we depend on in our lives are predictable and reliable.
But a spate of new studies looking at cohabitation, as it’s called, are starting to refine those results.
A paper in the April issue of the but presented early to the Council on Contemporary Families says that past studies have overstated the risk of divorce for cohabiting couples.
Not surprisingly, more attractive people were more likely to get married than less attractive people, but not by much, and mostly that rule only applied to women.
The paper also found, for what it’s worth, that cohabitation was likely to lead to marriage for women with “above average grooming” and men with “above average personalities.” Good looking men—those Lotharios— were more likely to cohabit without getting married.