The New Dynamics of “Stayover” Romantic Relationships

Over the last five decades, there has been a change in the formation and break-ups of sexual and romantic relationships, especially among young adults. This study attempted to investigate the role of “stayovers” as a means of development of new relationships, especially sexual and romantic ones. Results showed that some of the investigated young couples stayed overnight at their partner’s place anytime from three to seven nights a week while maintaining separate residences. Authors concluded that, “Stayovers served as a stopgap measure between casual dating and making more formal commitments.”

There has been a drastic change in the beginning and breaking-up of sexual and romantic relationships in the United States in the last five decades. This has been seen especially among young adults aged 18 to 29 years. These young adults are usually those who have not yet assumed the responsibilities of a parent or a spouse. These individuals show a difference in their attitudes toward personal relationships. This change in attitude has led to differences in the general dynamics of relationships of marriage and commitments. The common relationship trends include “hook-ups (sex without emotional intimacy), friends with benefits (FWBs, sex within the context of friendships with no expectation for future romantic involvement), and living apart together, or LAT (identifying as part of a couple without co-residence or marriage.” It is not clear whether these relationships lead to longer commitments. This study attempted to understand these relationship trends among college students and graduates.

* For this study, a total of 22 undergraduates and college graduates aged between 19 and 28 years were enrolled. All these participants were in relationships. Of these participants, most were white and 72 percent were women.
* Those participants who were living together full time, married, engaged or in a long-term relationship were not included in this study.
* All the participants were interviewed individually about their relationships related to staying overnight with their partners.

Key findings
* Results showed that on an average the participants had overnight stayovers at their partner’s place anytime between three and seven nights a week.
* When the participants were interviewed, they admitted that comfort and convenience was the deciding factor for them that made them select stayovers over full-time living situations with their partners.
* The interviews also revealed that in stayover relationships, these participants had control over their time, space, possessions as well as their relationship level. They could dictate the level of commitment or closeness to their partner.

Next steps/Shortcomings
Authors admit that this study sample was small and it dealt only with college graduates or undergraduates. They speculate that the actual dynamics of the type of relationship trend could be different in differently educated, divorced, older individual, or those who belonged to different cultural or ethnic backgrounds. This could set the stage for further studies.

This study attempted to understand an emerging relationship trend  of staying over and its implications and perceptions among young adults. The results of this study showed that in the small study sample of undergraduates and graduates, the individuals spent between three and seven nights in their partner’s place. They admitted that this pattern of stayover allowed for comfort and convenience and allowed them to have control over their own space and time as well as the relationship depth. It is observed that many couples indulge in stayover relationships rather than opting for full time live-in relationships. Authors suggest broader samples and interviews and further studies to understand the forms of this type of relationships and explain its functions and utility and long-term consequences in the society.

For More Information:
“We’re not Living Together”: Stayover Relationships among College-educated Emerging Adults
Publication Journal: Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, November 2010
By Tyler Jamison; Lawrence Ganong; University of Missouri

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