This article, using sexual exclusivity as an indication of commitment to a partner, examines commitment within dating, cohabitation, and marriage. In the present context, changes in sexual norms have led to an increase in sexual activity outside of marriage. This rise in nonmarital sex has been accompanied by an increase in cohabitation. Having a secondary sex partner suggests dissatisfaction with the primary relationship, the availability of desirable alternatives, and reduced investment. Employing data from the 1991 National Survey of Women, the researchers find that cohabitation, in terms of sexual commitment, is more similar to dating than marriage, and that cohabitation, relative to marriage is selective of less committed individuals. In addition, limiting the analyses to currently married women, they find that the characteristics emphasized in partner selection by those who cohabit before marriage differ from the characteristics emphasized by those who do not cohabit before marriage, and that these characteristics influence sexual exclusivity among prior cohabitors. (Author abstract)
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Sexual Exclusivity Among Dating, Cohabiting, and Married Women.