Feminism freed many women from the supposed bondage of marriage.

“Living together” became all the rage—daring in the early 1960s but a perfectly ordinary life style today.

Unfortunately, a new study indicates that women, much more than men, get the short end of the stick from this arrangement. 

Men, it seems, in such relationships have an aversion to commitment. Women yearn for it.

The study is by RAND sociologists Michael Pollard and Kathleen Mullan Harris. The University of Virginia’s Brad Wilcox summarizes the study today in The Atlantic:

Pollard and Harris found that the majority of cohabiting young men do not endorse the maximum indicator of relationship permanence: 52 percent of cohabiting men between ages 18 and 26 are not "almost certain" that their relationship is permanent. Moreover, a large minority (41 percent) of men report that they are not "completely committed" to their live-in girlfriends. By contrast, only 39 percent of cohabiting women in the same age group are not "almost certain" their relationship will go the distance, and only 26 percent say they are not "completely committed". Not surprisingly, the figures above and below also indicate that married women and men are much less likely to exhibit the low levels of commitment characteristic of many cohabiting relationships today.

Cohabiting men are so commitment shy that a long term relationship may actually prove a hindrance fo finding a permanent partner. But a “slide” into marriage by cohabiting couples can also be a disaster.  Wilcox cites one study that shows that women who cohabit before marriage are 40 percent more likely to end up divorcing.

James Taranto in the Wall Street Journal writes about the study:

It's almost tautological that married couples tend to be more committed than unmarried ones, but the commitment gap among the latter group points to a disequilibrium in the romantic marketplace. No doubt there are cohabiting couples in which both partners are strongly committed, in which neither partner is, and in which he is but she isn't. But the tendency is for women to be more committed than men, which suggests that many women settle for cohabitation when they would prefer marriage.