Cohabitation: How to Become a 21st Century Concubine

From “The Case for Cohabitation” at the Daily Beast:

Today, with the exception of pockets of religious communities and Rick Santorum, we’ve mostly gone sex-positive as a nation—there’s now “sex week” on a large smattering of college campuses, and condoms, while occasionally controversial, are not hard to find at the vast majority of health centers. In other words, we have more or less embraced the reality that young people have sex before they get married, so they might as well be doing it safely.

Yet cohabitation seems to have replaced premarital sex as the axe to grind among everyone from social conservatives to psychologists. Given that 70 to 90 percent of young people will live together before they get married, though, it’s a pretty shortsighted view to the issue.

Cohabitation by its very nature is a shortsighted view to a committed relationship between a man and a woman. The amount of young people doing it doesn’t make it socially acceptable or desirable. Despite the author’s veiled attempt to minimize their voices by politicizing it, there’s a lot of good reasons why everyone from social conservatives to psychologists aren’t embracing shacking up. Not the least of which is how women fall into a second-class slot that even an eventual marriage won’t always change.

According to research the article cited, couples often “slip” into cohabitation rather than making it a conscious decision– it just seems easier. On the surface, it makes sense if you are sleeping over at each other’s place regularly. It would feel like the next logical step. However, it bypasses some important steps that lay the foundation for a relationship equipped to last a lifetime.

When considering living together, men and women often have two different motives or agendas. Women are more apt to view this as the natural phase before marriage — a progression toward, not a test of. Meanwhile, men are more likely to see it, according to researchers, as a test of the relationship — or worse, a way to postpone a commitment.

Often without realizing it, women enter into this type of relationship with the same frame of mind she would have as a wife. Instead, she has all the responsibilities and none of the protection of a legal marriage. In a sense, she is demoted to little more than a modern-day concubine.

Wouldn’t your criteria for a roommate be different than that of lifetime partner?

See also Dr. Helen’s response: Why should it be the man who is relegated to second-class status?