Tyler Jamison, a doctoral candidate at the University of Missouri, found people in their 20s engage in "stayover relationships," spending three or more nights together each week while maintaining the option of going to their own homes.
"There is a gap between the teen years and adulthood during which we don't know much about the dating behaviors of young adults," Jaminson said in a statement.
Jamison conducted interviews among college-educated adults who were in committed, exclusive relationships and found though living together before marriage has become less taboo, many want to avoid the potential negative social consequences of cohabitation.
"As soon as couples live together, it becomes more difficult to break up," Jamison said. "At that point, they have probably signed a lease, bought a couch and acquired a dog, making it harder to disentangle their lives should they break up. Staying over doesn't present those entanglements."
Jamison found couples with a stayover routine were content, but did not necessarily plan to get married or move in together.
The study, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, found many college-age adults are students who will face a transition and most students do not have a definite plan for where they will live or work so stayovers are a way for couples to have comfort and convenience without a commitment or long-term plans.