What is it called when you're living with your boyfriend/girlfriend but you are not married yet?

What is it called when a couple decides they don't want to get married but plays the role of a married couple?

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    cohabitation is living together before marriage, the formal term. Informally, we say: living together. The second question is: pretending to be married but I don't think there's an app (whoops), word for that. [joke] – Lambie Apr 7 '16 at 22:46
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    And, of course, the US informal/slightly pejorative term is "shacking up". – Hot Licks Apr 7 '16 at 22:52
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    In the early 1980s, when cohabitation was still slightly frowned upon, I remember asking a young woman I was interviewing (and I find it unbelievable, given today's social climate, that I would have asked her in quite that way) whether she was married. Without hesitation, or shyness, she shot back at me No I'm living in sin as a matter of fact. And it was my face which was red, not hers. – WS2 Apr 7 '16 at 23:15
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    My recently-married neighbors used to call themselves "sposes" as in "were sposed to be spouses by now." I can find no indication of anybody else using this, so offer it to you. – Doug Glancy Apr 8 '16 at 1:10
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    @DougGlancy - I think I heard that once. – Hot Licks Apr 8 '16 at 1:32

You would say such couples were cohabiting.

cohabit: intransitive verb To live together as or as if a married couple - Merriam-Webster

They cohabited in a small apartment in the city.

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  • Should cohabiting be cohabitating? – eipi10 Apr 13 '16 at 4:40
  • No, the word is cohabiting. This is another example of people inventing new words when we already had one that fit, like "orientate" when we already had orient, and "administrate" when we already had administer. – John Clifford Apr 13 '16 at 6:15
  • And don't even start me on conversating. – John Clifford Apr 13 '16 at 6:16

It all depends upon the perceived state of your relationship and how much you want to reveal.

A simple "Boyfriend/girlfriend" (sometimes even just "friend") is acceptable even for a couple living together.

In some places, the law gives rights to couples who live together more than a certain amount of time, also called common-law marriage or a de facto relationship. Members of such couples refer to each other as "common-law husband/wife" or even just "husband/wife", even if they're not actually married.

And finally, people who have gone through the engagement ritual will call each other fiancé/fiancée even if "setting a date" for the wedding is a far-off proposition.

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Among my circle of friends in California, we (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) call it an MLR (marriage-like relationship) when two people are essentially living a married lifestyle but have not taken formal marriage vows. This is a term we (as far as I know) made up and that is not used anywhere else, but if you like it, feel free to spread it around.

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Shacking up is an informal way of saying cohabiting. On a form you might fill in cohabiting. Talking with friends or family you might say "shacking up".

Shack up: Verb: shack up

Share living quarters; usually said of people who are not married and live together as a couple - cohabit, live together

Derived forms: shacking up, shacked up, shacks up

Type of: dwell, inhabit, live, populate

-- WordWeb Online

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