Folk Wisdom: Should they shack up?

Wise Readers,

Welcome to Folk Wisdom, a new aspect of Love Science. This is where I ask for YOUR relationship advice on a specific question from other readers. “But”, you may be thinking, “this is a science-based column, not an opinion column, right? And isn’t Duana the one reporting answers?”


Yes, and yes. However, folk wisdom—the accumulated knowledge of regular people—is what most of us really use every day to make our decisions. Which means it’s Important.


Sometimes it’s even right. Ever read a study and thought, “My grandma could have told you that!”? That’s because social science sometimes confirms folk wisdom’s validity.


More often, though, there are several folk wisdom answers for any one scenario—and social science tells us which of the many possible answers will actually work for most people most of the time. (Sorry—only a crystal ball claims to foretell what is going to work for all of the people all of the time. Hence the enduring popularity of the MAGIC 8 BALL®?)


So, I’ve got a proposition to propose you ;). I’m going to give you a scenario from time to time, and ask you to write back with your advice about it. Then, in a later article I will summarize your answers and give the advice science supports.


Oh—by the way—looking up the science yourself is considered cheating!


Ready? Here’s this week’s scenario:


Pete and Tina are in their early 20’s and have dated for three years. They each want to cohabit—although for different reasons. Pete has serious doubts about the future of the relationship and views this as his opportunity to test the waters. Tina feels sure Pete is The One, and sees a shack-up as the next step toward matrimony. Should they move in together?


Here’s the survey link, where your responses will be anonymous:


If you’d also like to leave a comment here, please feel free, of course; but for the upcoming article, only the survey responses can be used.


Eagerly anticipating your wisdom—





Do you have a question for Duana? Contact her at


All material copyrighted by Duana C. Welch, Ph.D., 2009

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

« Commitment--Or Lack Thereof: The trouble with shacking up | Main | Dealing With Your Difficult Man »

Reader Comments (6)

I think "testing the waters" when you have serious doubts is disingenuous, at best.

June 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMonica

No need to take it to the next level if one of the parties is already thinking quits. Cohabitation should be for those who want to be with each other and test the waters for further compatibility, not to solve a problem.

June 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGabriel C

It's a bit contradictory to have serious doubts about your relationship but still want to take it to the next level by moving in with the person. It makes me think there is more to it.

Therefore, it really depends on what type of serious doubts he is having. Perhaps he loves her but is worried because they view finances differently and a simple idea like separate bank accounts would help solve his hesitation. Or maybe his hesitation is really a fear of more commitment and moving in would help him get over it. Moving in together is not the "great commitment" everyone makes it out to be. Keep things separate, just like roommates, and if it doesn't work, go your separate ways.

June 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Folks, I really appreciate your participation in the survey and am enjoying your insights. The lack of response has to do with a respect for your input and a wish to withhold my own until the data are all in.

As of tomorrow, I'm going where there is No Internet (gasp!). But I look forward to continuing the conversation after the July 4th weekend. In the meantime, I thank you and encourage you to have your associates weigh in on the survey.

June 26, 2009 | Registered CommenterDuana C. Welch, Ph.D.

I'd make sure that the URL you post for a survey has a link embedded so it is easier for folks to respond. I had to copy and paste the URL to take the survey.


July 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Weaver

Thank you for the feedback, David. It's important to let people respond as easily as possible, and I wasn't aware the URL was not taking people directly to the survey.

Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.