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Think of the college couple whose relationship began as a random hookup, the couple who moved in together so that they could pay less rent, or the couple who chose to elope on a whim rather than have a formal wedding.

These are couples who, often without realizing it, slid through relationship transitions that could have been planned out, discussed, and debated.

Twenty-eight percent of people who slid into cohabitation were in happy marriages while 42 percent of those who decided to live together were in high-quality marriages.

Another example is hooking up and its subsequent slide into a relationship.

If two people are dating, living in the same city, spending most nights of the week together, and are moving toward marriage, doesn’t it make sense to just move in together, and save a little money? Though traditional wisdom holds that cohabiting is a bad idea—and historically it has indeed been associated with a higher risk of divorce—moving in together before marriage is the norm among couples today.

But before couples sign a lease together, they would do well to ask themselves: Did we slide into the decision to move in together or did we decide to cohabit?

They buy furniture together, get used to the routine of living together, and split bills and rent.

Research shows that these constraints could prevent them from breaking up.

Deciding rather than sliding revolves around commitment—not just to each other, but to the decision itself.

Other milestones might include the “define the relationship” talk—the moment a couple says they are actually a couple—sex, engagement, marriage, and children.

In the past, these milestones tended to follow a straightforward order that began with courtship, passed the milestones of marriage, cohabitation, and sex, and ended with children.

One-third of those who married said their relationship with their eventual spouse began as a hookup, and they, too, were unhappier in their marriages later on.

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