Advice • Facts

How do adults define relationships today? Is having a relationship important for a happy and fulfilling life? Does finding a soul mate really matter? In order to answer these questions, Chemistry.com had Harris Interactive conduct a survey on relationships. Over the next several weeks, we will be revealing the surprising results to this survey.

The majority of unmarried adults (including committed) are looking for a long-term relationship that may or may not lead to marriage — or no relationship at all. Most single adults are happy to remain single and dating or in a committed relationship, but not married.

Currently Looking For...

  • Long term committed relationship that may or may not lead to marriage 34
  • I am not looking for any type of relationship 28
  • Marriage 18
  • Long-term casual relationship 12
  • Casual sex 3
  • Gay partnership, marriage or civil union 1
  • Decline to answer 3

Current Relationship Status Preference

  • 44%  Single and dating
  • 38%  In a committed relationship, but not married
  • 18%  Married

Q1015: At this point in your life, which of the following are you looking for? Base: All single respondents, including committed (n=1,180)

Q1025: At this point in your life, would you prefer to be...? Base: All single respondents (n=737)

A large majority of all adults agree that a person can be happy without getting married, and slightly less than half of single adults say they would be happy to live in a committed relationship forever without getting married.

Life Without Marriage

I believe a person can be happy without marriage.

  •  Not at all important
  •  Somewhat Important
  •  Important
  •  Very Important

I would be happy if I never got married, but lived in a committed relationship forever.

  • 46%  Not sure
  • 28%  No
  • 26%  Yes

Q1080: How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements about marriage for you, personally? Base: All respondents (n=2,549)

Q1060: Would you personally be happy if you never got married, but lived in a committed relationship forever? Base: All single respondents (n=737)

Nearly two in three adults say a long-term committed relationship is important for a happy and fulfilling life, a larger proportion than value marriage.

Importance of Marriage vs. Long-Term Committed Relationship for a happy and fulfilling life

Marriage

  •  Not at all important
  •  Somewhat Important
  •  Important
  •  Very Important

Long-term committed relationship that may or may not lead to marriage

  •  Not at all important
  •  Somewhat Important
  •  Important
  •  Very Important

About three in four single adults disagree that marriage is a top priority for them right now. And almost four in ten singles say they are not sure if they ever want to get married.

Views on Marriage

Getting married is a top priority for me right now

  •  Strongly disagree
  •  Somewhat disagree
  •  Somewhat agree
  •  Strongly agree

I am not sure if I ever want to get married

  •  Strongly disagree
  •  Somewhat disagree
  •  Somewhat agree
  •  Strongly agree

Q1080: How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements about marriage for you, personally? Base: All single respondents (n=737)

A majority of U.S. adults feel that living together and deciding not to marry is acceptable.

Acceptability of couples living together and deciding never to get married

  • 38%   10 Completely Acceptable
  • 6%   9
  • 8%   8
  • 5%   7
  • 6%   6
  • 12%   5
  • 4%   4
  • 5%   3
  • 3%   2
  • 13%   1 Completely Unacceptable
 
52% Top 3 Box (Net)

Q1050: On a scale of 1 to 10 where "1" represents completely unacceptable and "10" represents completely acceptable, how acceptable do you think it is when couples in a committed relationship live together and decide they never want to get married? Base: All respondents (n=2,549)

Only a minority of adults view co-habiting couples who decide not to marry negatively, such as afraid of commitment, unconcerned about family values, or unsure of their love for one another.

People who live together in a committed relationship but don't marry…

  • Are not worried about what other people think 64
  • Don't need to marry as long as they are happy 58
  • Are afraid of commitment 42
  • Prefer not to abide by society's rules 32
  • Want to remain financially independent 30
  • Are not concerned with family values 27
  • Are free thinkers 27
  • Are unsure of their love for one another 27
  • Are open to having affairs 17
  • Are not interested in having children 11
  • Are madly in love 9
  • Other 9

Q1045: In your opinion, would you say that people who live together in a committed relationship but don't marry...? *
Base: All respondents (n=2,549) * Multiple responses were allowed.

The key reason that marriage matters is that most adults, regardless of current relationship status, value having a partnership with another human being. Few adults want to get married in order to have children, gain tax benefits, or respond to social or career pressures.

82% of all adults say marriage is important to them.

Reasons why marriage is important

  • I want to have a partnership with someone 63
  • I want to have children 25
  • It conveys I have a good set of values 19
  • I want to enjoy the tax benefits 9
  • It is what people are supposed to do 8
  • I feel as if there's something swrong with me if I don't get married 5
  • All my friends are married 4
  • My parents are nagging me to get married 1
  • It is important to my career 1
  • Other 21
  • Marriage is not important to me 18

Q1045: In your opinion, would you say that people who live together in a committed relationship but don't marry...? *
Base: All respondents (n=2,549) * Multiple responses were allowed.

Survey Methodology

Harris Interactive conducted the online survey on behalf of Chemistry.com between March 30 and April 3, 2007, among a nationally representative sample of 2,549 U.S. adults age 18 and older. Figures for region, age within gender, education, household income and race/ethnicity were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents propensity to be online.

With a pure probability sample of 2,549, one could say with a 95% probability that the overall results would have a sampling error of +/- 3 percentage points. Sampling error for data based on sub-samples would be higher and would vary. However, that does not take other sources of error into account. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no theoretical sampling error can be calculated.