Do Random Hook-Ups Lead to Happy Marriages? Researchers Have an Answer


If you're in search of a happy, stable marriage, don't go looking for it in a sweaty dance club hook-up. While it might sound like advice from your mom, a new study suggests the tip might actually have merit.

Married couples who said their relationship began with a hook-up reported having lower quality marriages than those who said they started dating some other way, according to research from the National Marriage Project.

Researchers asked study participants if their relationship began with a hook-up (the scientists didn't get any more specific than that). Interestingly, 32% said their marriages had begun with what they defined as a hook-up. However, those couples constituted fewer of the high-quality marriages: Only 36% of the hook-up unions were ranked as "high quality," while 42% of the relationships that began as friendships or took longer to heat up had turned into "high-quality marriages."

Image Credit: National Marriage Project

To define "high-quality marriages," the researchers used a standard questionnaire called the Dyadic Adjustment Scale, which asks couples about their level of happiness in the relationship, their ability to confide in one another, their belief that things are going well in the relationship and their thoughts of divorce, among others.

The takeaway, for all the daters out there: Your chances of having a healthy, lasting relationship are much higher if it doesn't start with a sexy encounter right off the bat. Patience -- or what some of us experience as total dating paranoia -- is truly a virtue. 

But hey, there is a silver lining: One-third of couples do turn those hook-ups into marriage. (Take that, Mom.)

The findings come down to making thoughtful choices. If you want to turn your hook-up into a lasting relationship, take other things together slow. Couples who made deliberate choices together early in their relationships tend to be happier and more stable in marriage, the study also found. 

There's no need to feel bad about that random hook-up. But you can feel especially great about wanting to take things nice and slow.