The different effects of ‘‘living together’’: Determining and comparing types of cohabiting couples

Brian J. Willoughby, Brigham Young University
Jason S. Carroll
Dean M. Busby


Utilizing a sample of 1365 never-married cohabiting couples, we developed a typology of premarital cohabitation. Latent class analysis was used to create a five-class model of cohabiting couples who were then compared to engaged and non-engaged noncohabiting couples on measures of interpersonal dynamics and relational outcomes. Results suggested that being in different types of cohabiting relationships was associated with different risks and benefits in terms of relational outcomes. Engaged cohabiting couples who have an agreed trajectory toward marriage appear to do as well, or better, than other types of couples. Cohabiting couples who are not utilizing cohabitation as a current pathway toward marriage appeared very similar to non-cohabiting dating couples. It was also found that couples with ambiguity regarding their perceived movement toward marriage were at risk for negative relationship outcomes compared to other couple types.