DeLamater & HasdayPage 12
Committed relationships Many adolescents and adults form close or intimate relationships with others, relationships characterized by affective, cognitive and physical closeness or a sense thereof. Intimacy often grows out of self-disclosure by each person, creating a sense of a unique relationship. Although there is an element of physical intimacy, it need not be sexual. On the other hand, many people believe that it is appropriate for two people who are committed to each other or “in love” to engage in sexual intimacy. Beliefs about the appropriateness of sexual activity with particular kinds of persons reflect social norms, norms that are embedded in the groups one belongs to and enforced by friends and family. The norms in most societies include homogamy in sexual relationships, that the partner be of similar age, race/ethnicity, religion and social status. A common pattern among adolescents and adults in some societies is serial monogamy, in which one person engages in a series of two or more intimate relationships, often being faithful while in a relationship. For some people, this is a stage in development as the person moves from more casual relationships to a committed, long-term or lifelong relationship. According to the NHSLS, among married persons 20 to 29 in the United States, 40 percent of the men and 28 percent of the women had two or more sexual partners prior to marriage (Laumann, et al., 1994).
Cohabitation refers to an unmarried (heterosexual) couple living together. There are varying levels of residential sharing, from “living together apart” or maintaining separate residences, to spending some nights at the partner’s residence, to living together in one residence. These relationships represent commitment, because the couple is making a public declaration of their sexual relationship. In some developed countries, cohabitation is an alternative to marriage. In the United States in 2000, 5 percent of all households were comprised of unmarried partners; 90 percent involved a heterosexual couple, 5 percent involved two men