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“We didn’t realize how much it means to ourselves.” Despite the popularity of cohabitation, and eagerness of pop culture to glamorize it, marriage is still the ultimate “you’ve arrived” relationship.

And yet to many in our divorce-fearful society, it is better to have “less filling” than more vulnerability to rejection, sadness, and heartbreak. I frequently tell cohabiting couples, who justify their trial marriage as a process to help them decide if a real marriage would work, that “trial marriages have trial commitments.” You really don’t know how much you could love or what you would be willing to give (read ), and therefore, how intimate your relationship could be unless both of you jump into the deep end of the commitment pool with both feet.

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Stacy’s dating career could be described as “casual.” She would meet a man and throw herself into getting to know him while, in her heart, simultaneously keeping her options open.

The rush of meeting someone new and connecting through physical touch made her feel wanted and important, but the idea of being tied down to someone made her nervous.

Another recent trend among married blended family couples is maintaining separate residences even after marriage and not even attempting to “blend” the family.

As one man asked me, “Most people only think there are two options: marry and blend or stay single and break up.

She often found herself caught between hope and doubt, between the accelerator and the brake, between sex and the hope that he would want to leave her apartment afterward.