A recent study from the University of Missouri-Columbia found that “stayover relationships” are a growing trend among college-aged couples who are committed, but not interested in getting married or moving in together. What are these types of relationships, you ask? A University of Missouri researcher explains the new dating trend.

Researchers examined alternatives to fully cohabiting couples are spending three of more nights together a week and still maintaining their own homes, which could help to explain recent U.S. census data that indicates people are getting married later.

"This seems to be a pretty stable and convenient middle ground between casual dating and more formal commitments like living together and getting married," said Tyler Jamison, a researcher in the university's Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

"Instead of following a clear path from courtship to marriage, individuals are choosing to engage in romantic ties on their own terms - without the guidance of social norms."

The "convenient" relationship allows for an arrangement that facilitates couples who are not sure if they want to end up in a permanent relationship and do not want to end up living together if things go downhill. The two maintain their own homes in the process, which may explain recent data that shows U.S. youth are pushing marriage further and further away, researchers say.

The findings, which are published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, are based on interviews with college-educated adults in committed relationships. "There is a gap between the teen years and adulthood during which we don't know much about the dating behaviors of young adults. Stayovers are the unique answer to what emerging adults are doing in their relationships," she added.

Jamison and the co-author of the study, Lawrence Ganong, found that comfort and convenience are the biggest attractions of stayover relationships among young adults, which allow them to maintain a form of control over the pace of their relationship and their possessions.

“A key motivation is to enjoy the comforts of an intimate relationship while maintaining a high degree of personal control over one’s involvement and commitment,” said Ganong, professor in HDFS.

"None of them saw themselves as co-habiters," Jamison explained, even if they spent six or seven nights together. "It is interesting how separate they felt about their living arrangements to the point where they would act like a guest in the other person's place."

The need to control the pace of the relationship is mostly based on timing with many young adults not at a point in their lives to make long-term commitments. The "stayovers" act as a stopgap measure between casual dating and long-term commitments. "It is not a different relationship form," Jamison said. "It is one thing that people do while dating."