It used to be called "living in sin" but few Australians these days frown on couples who live together outside marriage. Recent research suggests it might be a good idea to start frowning again.
Far from being a prelude to marriage and a long-term relationship, living together can be a deterrent against it, said Ruth Weston, a researcher at the Institute of Family Studies.
"In the old days people might go 'steady,' but there was still opportunity to meet others," she said. "Now, once you are living with someone, you are cheating if you see someone else. When you cohabit, it adds a sense of commitment to a relationship that is going nowhere."
Weston told the Sydney Morning Herald that permissiveness was proving a double-edged sword. Couples who shack up early on in their relationship inadvertently close off opportunities to meet those that might suit them better.
"They enter prematurely, but can linger on and waste their time," she said. Lots of research - not just Weston's - concludes that cohabitation can be time-consuming and counterproductive. Women can end up in their 40s single and childless after splitting up with a partner. Men often fare much worse.
Figures from 2006 show that more than a third of women aged 30-34 are single - neither married nor living with a partner. For men, the equivalent proportion is more than four in 10.
Think of how different it was for an earlier generation. Boys and girls lived at home, or lived together in all-male or all-female households. They tried different partners and then settled on one for marriage and a long-term relationship.
Now, living together comes first - and more often than not doesn't lead to a real marriage.(DPA)
Sharon: I'm thinking about moving in with Kev.
Kate: Really? But you guys have only been together for a few months.
Sharon: More like a year. Anyway, it's no big deal. It'll save us a stack of cash on rent every month, and we spend most of our time together anyway.
Kate: Hmm. Well, it seems like a big step. Just don't forget there's always a bed at mine for you if you two fight and you need somewhere to crash.
Sharon: Cheers, Kate. Of course I hope we won't have that kind of a problem, but it's very sweet of you. And of course, it's good to know.
to crash 睡覺
The expression to crash has many meanings, one of which is to sleep. For example: "It's been a long day. I'm exhausted, I think I'm going to crash. 'Night!"