The Ecology of Relationships: The Effect of Meeting Patterns on Cohabiting Couples’ Relationship Progression

Sharon Sassler, Cornell University
Amanda J. Miller, Ohio State University

While much research on union formation emphasizes the importance of marriage ‘markets,’ to date relatively little is known about whether some locales are more or less productive sites for meeting romantic partners. Yet where individuals meet romantic partners may have consequences for subsequent relationship development, shaping not only the likelihood of pursing the relationship, but also its composition, tempo, and the extent of familial/social support for the union. In this paper, we use in-depth qualitative interviews to examine where and how 62 cohabiting couples (124 individuals) report meeting their romantic partners, whether this differentiates relationship progression and respondents’ perceptions of support for their relationship, and how this differs by social class (measured via educational attainment). Important distinctions are observed between tempo to shared living, sentiments regarding perceptions of the suitableness of the meeting sight, and the level of homogamy on important dimensions of relationship stability.

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Presented in Session 182: Marriage Markets