At the excellently named cohabitation/marriage research blog “Sliding vs. Deciding”:
I last left you on the edge of your seat about what I’d write next about the study on extradyadic sex I introduced you to in my last post. If you have not already read the prior post, please do so as this one builds on it. That post was all about findings in a study from our lab at the University of Denver (Shaw, Rhoades, Allen, Stanley, & Markman, 2013).
Here’s a very brief recap: Shaw et al. examined predictors of having sex outside of one’s serious, unmarried, romantic relationship over a 20 month period of time. As you can read in the prior post, many variables were associated with new occurrences of infidelity in these relationships and many other variables were not associated with infidelity. For example, those who were happier and more committed and who had less negativity with their partners were less likely to report having had sex with someone else. Not shocking but good to know. In contrast, those who had a greater number of prior sexual partners or who reported more use of alcohol were more likely to report having had sex with someone else. And so forth and so on.
Did any of the findings seem surprising to you? The finding that I think many people would consider surprising is that living together was not significantly associated with whether or not a person reported having had sex with someone other than their partner. That is, living together was not associated with greater odds of cheating nor was it associated with lower odds of cheating. Living together just didn’t provide information about sexual exclusivity.
I believe that many people believe that cohabitation = commitment or that it means there has been a step-up in commitment. Closely related, I believe that many people believe the fact that two people live together means that the two partners are “off the market,” so to speak. There actually is no evidence that I know of for believing this.