sexuality, romance, cohabitation


Before their current relationship, individuals may have had a variety of previous relationships such as romantic relationships, sexual relationships, and cohabiting relationships. In this study, we explored the common or shared influence of these 3 types of previous relationships, and the unique influence of each type, on current relationship functioning. With a sample oof more than 4,000 individuals we found that there was a significantly negative shared influence for previous romantic, sexual, and cohabitation relationships on current relationship attitudes, sexual satisfaction, commitment, and stability. The effects were largely similar for women and for men. It appears that on average the positive lessons that are learned from previous relationship experiences are likely being overwhelmed by the negative carryover, especially in regard to relationship attitudes and relationship stability.

Original Publication Citation

Busby, D. M., Willoughby, B. J., & McDonald, M. L. (2019). Is it the sex, the romance, or the living together? The differential impact of past sexual, romantic, and cohabitation histories on current relationship functioning. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 8, 90-104.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor