Although many people with a steady partner do not immediately set up house together, most do start living together after a period of time. Only a minority, some 125 thousand people aged between 30 and 59 years opt for a steady relationship in which they do not live together. According to the results of the Fertility survey 2003 most people in this group are over 40 years of age and have previously lived together with a partner at least once.
Men and women in a steady relationship by age
Steady relationships increase with age
A large majority of the adult population has a steady relationship. More than 80 percent of over-30s are in a steady relationship. For younger groups the percentage is lower, especially for men. Forty-five percent of men aged 18-24 years have a steady relationship, compared with 60 percent of women in this age group.
This difference is mainly caused by the fact that most women have male partners who are a few years older than themselves. At older ages on the other hand more men than women are in a relationship. This is caused by divorces and widowhood; women live on average longer than men, and after a divorce children are more likely to remain with their mother, who is therefore less likely to enter a new relationship.
Men and women in a steady relationship who do not live together
Cohabitation mostly after 25 years of age
A steady relationship does not automatically mean partners start living together. Most young people with a steady partner do not cohabit. Above the age of 25, however, most people in a relationship do live together. Above the age of 50 only very few people in a relationship do not live together.
Future plans of partners who do not live together
Over-40s relatively often live apart
Most people who have a partner but do not yet live together want to live together in the future. They do so after an average three years of going steady.
However, a substantial number of people aged over 30, and especially those aged over 40, do not want to live together in the future. Just over four out of ten people in their forties and even more than seven out of ten over 50s who do not live with their partner at present do not want to do so in the future. Overall some 125 thousand people aged between 30 and 60 in the Netherlands have a relationship in which they live apart.
Reasons for living apart
Freedom an important reason
Why do they choose such a relationship? More than half say that they want to maintain their freedom. For one in ten children from a previous relationship play a role, and nearly 10 percent do not want to live together because of unfavourable past experiences of living together.
However, most – nearly 75 percent – of people in relationship in which they do not live together, have lived together or been married at least once before.
Suzanne Loozen and Liesbeth Steenhof