“Stayover” Relationships

A recent study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships covers the more recent idea of “stayover” relationships (I know that they’ve existed before now, but they have become much more of the norm in 20-somethings). The article, title ”‘We’re not living together:’ Stayover relationships among college-educated emerging adults”, brings to attention the increasing popularity of this type of relationship – and the fact that relationships aren’t just dating-but-not-living-together or living together.

“Stayover” relationships are described as when a couple spends half of the nights in a week at each other’s place, and the other half at their own place without the partner (the study defined this as 3-7 nights, and I want to point out that 7 nights doesn’t mean that they still live together). The appeal, according to the study, is that you don’t have to give up your independence and your space while still being able to share space in some manner. Think of either the person you’re with now or the most recent one – regardless of your living arrangement, did you ever really relish your own space and time? My best friend has a 4 year old, and she absolutely does! While she loves her kid, there’s some days that she counts down the minutes til her husband gets home and can give her the gift of some time to herself. Blame it on me being an only child, but sometimes I really need some alone time. “Stayover” relationships are supposed to give individuals experience with spending more time with someone, and sharing space with a romantic partner (from my experience, this can be incredibly different than from with a roommate – not necessarily better, just different). Obviously, this isn’t going to work for everyone, but can be more socially and culturally acceptable than moving in with someone.

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About Holly Moyseenko

Holly Moyseenko is a sex educator living in Ohio. She is an advocate of positive and healthy sexuality. Holly currently works for a non-profit health organization as a health educator, and also teaches workshops that focus on many topics within the realm of healthy sexuality. In her spare time, she also is an advocate for survivors of sexual assault, gardens, reads anything within reach, drinks copious amounts of tea, and naps with her two dogs.

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    A former colleague of mine had these relationships since her marriage ended (in her late 20′s). She is now in her early 40′s, a single mother for fourteen years, and fiercely independent. She had one relationship when her son was very young and they lived together, and when it failed she vowed that she wouldn’t do that again.
    I guess she’s protecting her son from having that happen again, but she admits that a lot of it is about her wanting her own freedom. She doesn’t really have relationships, choosing to have “sexual friendships” instead. But it’s in the same format as the study suggests with some of these friendships lasting a year or more.

    I don’t think this is anything new, surely this is just what happens for most before deciding it is working and then looking to move in together?
    Have they simply labeled a short period of a relationship that most of us experience?

  • http://profiles.google.com/hmoyseenko Holly Moyseenko-Kossover

    I agree that this is absolutely not anything new at all. While I do have friends who opted to not live together prior to marriage (or equivalent there of), for most people, I think this is how it starts. If you can’t spend a night or two with someone, how could you think about living with them? I jokingly tell people that I couldn’t live with someone if I hated how they squeezed their toothpaste (we could always do separate tubes) or if they never replaced the toiletpaper. While those are sort of silly, for me they are pretty much true. Staying over a few times can give you a glimpse.

    As for your former colleague, I totally understand the wanting to keep one’s independence. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/hmoyseenko Holly Moyseenko-Kossover

    I think it depends on the person. I would be curious as well though! I can see stayovers in professionals maybe more on the weekends or if they work similar schedules.  While I work a full time job (& have grad school), I don’t have a typical Monday-Friday 9-5 gig, so I may not be the ideal stayover partner for a lot of people