Study Polishes Hookups' Tarnished Rep

Cristen Conger

A sociological study from the University of Iowa (via Feministing) found a correlation between relationship quality and when two people decide to seal the deal that might seem less than earth-shattering at first glance. Sexual relationships based on casual "hookups" or friends-with-benefits scenario are more likely to suffer a fast-burning flame than couples who decide to hold off on the horizontal tango. But that doesn't mean hookups can't evolve into steadier relationships -- as long as both individuals are on the same page. In analyzing relationship surveys researcher Anthony Paik found that the success of a relationship depended more on whether people were looking for something serious, rather than the timing of their first sexual encounter. Paik explained in a statement:

"The study suggests that rewarding relationships are possible for those who delay sex. But it's also possible for true love to emerge if things start off with a more 'Sex and the City' approach, when people spot each other across the room, become sexually involved and then build a relationship."

The study results reminded me of a Stuff Mom Never Told You episode on premarital cohabitation. Although the raw data swings in favor of not shacking up before getting married, the nuances behind those figures tell a different story. Just like Paik's finding that hookups can only blossom into full-blown relationships when both parties are on board for the ride, the same goes for couples living together before they decide to get married. If both aren't in agreement about where the relationship should go -- whether it's simply continued monogamy, domestic partnership or marriage -- they have a diminished chance of peacefully sharing a roof in the long-run.

In 2009, a widely publicized study on living together outside of wedlock spelled certain doom for the 70 percent of couples doing just that in the United States. Essentially, those couples reported greater marital dissatisfaction and had higher rates of divorce than those who didn't move in before tying the knot. However, a lot of the study's media coverage glossed over one important nugget: those who reported the greatest unhappiness used living together to "test the waters" before making a longer-term commitment. In other words, the people who weren't exactly sure what they wanted or who they wanted it with unsurprisingly had a harder time coping under one roof.

For both the hookup-to-relationship and premarital-cohabitation-to-happily-married sets, the individuals seem to be exercising choice and open communication with their partners. They found something that works and want to move forward, no waffling around about it. On the flip side, these study findings make no promises about fairytale endings for anyone involved. So while a lusty hookup might not make the sweetest how-we-met story, sometimes you've gotta take what you can get in this endless crap shoot we call love.

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