It’s that process of assessing whether they’ll make it for the long haul that ultimately will impact their relationship quality, especially for the women.
Since women are generally the ones to initiate divorce proceedings, it means that their satisfaction in the relationship is especially crucial to its long-term viability.
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Close relationship researchers have known for years that couples who cohabitate before marriage (and are not engaged) are more likely to divorce or, if they remain together, experience poor marital quality.
The “cohabitation effect,” as it’s called, occurs because many people who live together before getting engaged slide into marriage through a process of inertia.
The researchers weren’t sure if this finding reflected something unusual about the sample or that people just aren’t very good at estimating how long it takes for relationship to progress to sexual intimacy.2. For women, but not men, the longer the delay between dating and sex, the better the perception of the current relationship quality.
Slowing things down for women, but not men, meant paying attention to other factors that would ultimately improve the relationship such as commitment and emotional intimacy.3.
These findings suggest that premarital sex, especially early in the dating relationship, has different impact on the later satisfaction of women than men.
Men and women don’t seem to differ in what they want out of a sexual relationship, at least according to other research.Controlling for a number of important other variables (age, number of prior marriages, children, education, income, and financial strain), the researchers then compared the relationship quality of couples who waited less than a month, 1-6 months, and 6 months or more.Because the study was a cross-sectional one, meaning that people were not followed over time, this meant that it was impossible to determine whether people destined to have worse relationships jumped into sex sooner than those who would go on to be satisfied with their partners.Entry into cohabitation accounted for the negative effect of relationship tempo on quality.Couples who had sex early in the game were more likely to decide to live together and, in turn, had less satisfying relationships.However, they do seem to attach different meanings to sex as an indicator of commitment.