Help the development of the site, sharing the article with friends!

A cohabitation union is a type of relationship in which (not only) young Poles enter more and more willingly. A cohabitation union is not a legalized form of living together, like a marriage, so it is often commonly referred to as "life on a cat's paw" or "marriage without a paper". Learn the definition of a cohabitation union and find out the difference between a cohabitation and cohabitation relationship.


  1. Cohabitation union: definition
  2. Cohabitation union: what is it about?
  3. Cohabitation unions in Poland
  4. Cohabitation and cohabitation

Cohabitation relationship- this wording sounds quite complicated, and giving one definition of it is equally difficult. Over the past several decades, researchers have spent a lot of time trying to unambiguously define what a cohabitation relationship is, but they still haven't come to a single conclusion. However, despite the differences in specific definitions, in each of them we can find one and unchanging distinguishing factor that determines the essence of living in this type of relationship. An explanation should be sought in the Latin origin of the word "cohabitation" - "co-, con-", which means "with, together" and "habitare" - "to live, to be". A cohabitation union is therefore a kind of relationship in which a couple lives with each other, although it is not a marriage. Living together is a necessary condition to call a relationship cohabitation.

Cohabitation union: definition

Although in the case of a cohabitation union it is necessary to live together, other distinguishing features of this type of relationship are determined very differently. The most popular is the definition formulated by the Swedish sociologist Jan Trost in 1979, saying that "a cohabitation relationship concerns two people of different sex, living together for a long time, running a common household and having a sexual relationship"1.

Trost was reminded, however, that he did not specify how long a heterosexual couple should live together in order to be called a cohabitation union. Such a clarification was introduced by Wojciech Chechliński, who stated that a man and a woman must spend all weekends together within four months or spend at least four or five nights together ina week over a period of at least three months2 .

The following definitions emphasize that the term "cohabitation" refers to a legally unconfirmed relationship between two people of different sexes.

Cohabitation union: what is it about?

So we already know how a cohabitation relationship is defined, but what is the life of the couple who stay in it on a daily basis? There is no clear answer to this, because the partners independently determine whether and how they want to share their expenses, household chores, and determine the way they spend their free time.

A cohabitation union can take many forms. Some couples decide on it even before marriage - they live together in order to get into the way of life that awaits them after marriage. Their main goal, however, is to get married, and cohabitation is a temporary state. On the other hand, a cohabitation union is also a solution chosen by people entering this type of relationship after divorce and not intending to marry again. The third type of cohabitation is the one that is an alternative to marriage - some people do not want to get married at all and decide to cohabitation, which is no different from marriage except for the lack of legal confirmation.

A cohabitation union may be by definition temporary - when the people who create it care primarily about affection, building a sexual relationship - or permanent - focused on running a common household, fathering and raising children.

Cohabitation unions in Poland

In 1974, 1% of people lived in cohabitation in Poland, in 2022, according to the report "Sexuality of Poles 2022", already 11%. In the case of the latter study, it was about informal relationships, without distinction as to whether or not they live together. Undoubtedly, however, over the course of over 40 years, the number of non-legalized unions has increased significantly in Poland. Moreover, cohabitation is met with great acceptance in Poland. Prof. Anna Kwak conducted a study in 1993, i.e. over 20 years ago, which showed that 81% of Poles do not mind this form of relationship, and only 5% of respondents were against it3 . On the other hand, as many as 70% of respondents answered that they would prefer not to remain in such a relationship.

It is worth adding that in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Finland, Luxembourg, Andorra, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Switzerland, Great Britain, Liechtenstein, Austria, Croatia, Greece, Estonia, Italy, Cyprus, M alta and Hungary, opposite-sex couples have the option of registering a relationship that is not married. Some of these states broadcast itunions have the same privileges as married couples, and others with a smaller range of rights. You cannot enter into a partnership in Poland.

Cohabitation and cohabitation

The difference between a cohabitation union and a cohabitation is slight. For a relationship to be called cohabitation, the couple must live together, in the case of cohabitation, it is not necessary. The phrase "cohabitation union" is most often used by sociologists and anthropologists, while in Polish law, as well as in colloquial speech, the two expressions mean the same and are treated interchangeably.

Worth knowing

Types of informal relationships: DINKS and LAT

Cohabitation and cohabitation are not the only forms of relationship in which two unrelated people of different sexes can live without formal confirmation.

  • DINKS(double income, no kids) - These are couples who have made the decision not to have children. They are usually educated, well-paid people living in big cities. Instead of offspring, they prefer to focus on their own development, they invest in their passions and in interesting ways of spending their free time. They are focused on creating a relationship based on partnership, not traditional division of roles.
  • LAT(living apart together) - these are relationships in which partners, although they are together, live in separate places. They motivate their decision with various factors: the desire of one of the partners to live closer to the workplace, the intention to be more involved in the relationship than it is possible on a daily basis, the need to have a space only for themselves.


1. J. Torst, Unmarried cohabitation, International Library, Västerås 2009.

2. W. Chechliński, Cohabitation - a new form of couple coexistence, "Problem of the family" 1978, No. 99 (1).

3. A. Kwak, Directions of family transformation - alternatives to marriage, UAM Publishing House, Poznań 2001.

About the authorAnna SierantEditor in charge of the Psychology and Beauty sections, as well as the main page of As a journalist, she cooperated, among others. with "Wysokie Obcasy", the websites: and, the quarterly "G'RLS Room". She also co-founded the online magazine "PudOWY Róż". He runs a blog jakdzż

Read more articles from this author

Help the development of the site, sharing the article with friends!