Okay, dykes, prepare to be SHOOK. Everything you ever knew is a lie; everything you believed about queer culture is about to be shattered; the very foundation of your lez belief system is about to cave in. No, Ellen and Portia aren’t breaking up (goddess forbid!). New research (like, real research, with fancy sociologists at fancy Ivy League schools) says that lesbians don’t move in with each other (AKA U-Haul) any faster than their boring heterosexual counterparts. The lesbian U-Haul stereotype has been scientifically debunked.
In a recent study, Taylor Orth and Michael Rosenfeld of Stanford University collected data on the relationship paths of 3,000 couples and found that the average couple in the U.S. moves in about a year and a half after they start dating.
While you might know (or be—I’m looking at myself), a lesbian that has moved in after a few months, it’s actually not typical. What really affects the timeline of a relationship path, Orth and Rosenfeld discovered, is age. Older couples tend to move in together sooner than younger couples. So do couples where at least one member is an evangelical Christian. The research also revealed that more educated couples tend to move in slower.
So there are a lot of different factors into what causes couples to U-Haul or not U-Haul, but shockingly, sexual orientation and gender don’t seem to be one of them. “Contrary to popular conceptions of lesbians as eager to commit,” the researchers write, “our results indicate that after controlling for couple age there are no significant differences in relative rates of cohabitation among couple types.” Their research was thorough: Out of the 3,000 couples surveyed, 220 of them were same-sex female couples.
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This Stanford research totally debunks the age-old stereotype that lesbian couples move way faster than straight couples. (What does a lesbian bring to a second date? A U-Haul.) The difference in the research, though, is that the lesbian couples in the data tended to be older when they got together. The lesbian couples, on average, met at 34, and the male-female couples met, on average, at 26. (My personal thought on this is that queer people are way more exciting and adventurous, and aren’t done slutting at 26… and they sometimes have a stunted adolescence, but that’s for another essay.) This age difference might make it seem like lesbians do tend to U-Haul, but the analysis demonstrates that it’s the age of meeting that really matters, not whether the couples are gay or straight.
So I guess we need to come up with a new joke. What else can us lesbians bring to a second date? Our emotional traumas, a purple sparkly strap-on, our lingering feeling for our exes, dairy-free cheese, mulled wine, an oddly specific gift from a Brooklyn thrift store? I’m sure we’ll figure something out.