Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Learning Sciences and Human Development

Committee Chair

Jessica Troilo

Committee Co-Chair

Kristin Moilanen

Committee Member

Ruth Kershner


Cohabitation has been repeatedly linked to negative relationship outcomes like low levels of commitment and relationship quality, but much of the current literature has utilized older data sets from the 1980s or age ranges from emerging adulthood, young adulthood, and older adulthood in the same studies. Supported by life course theory, inertia theory, and selection effects theory, the current study examined cohabitation specifically within the years of 18-25 to explore how demographic variables might be linked to the tempo of relationship transitions and the length of relationships. Additionally, the current study explored the associations between tempo of relationship transitions and length of relationships and levels of commitment and relationship quality. Participants (n = 116) were mostly white (89.7%), from middle class families (94%), and had at least some college experience (91.4%). Results indicated that educational attainment is especially influential on both the tempo of relationship transitions and length of relationship variables. Additionally, commitment and relationship quality were significantly, positively correlated, meaning that higher levels of commitment were associated with greater relationship quality. Ultimately, the findings support the inertia theory, showing that rapid tempo of relationship transitions is linked to lower relationship quality, suggesting the importance of moving purposefully through relationship transitions for cohabiting couples.