Love doesn't necessarily mean marriage: survey

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Four out of 10 Americans say they don’t need a marriage certificate to prove love or commitment, according to a new online survey.

A couple watches the sunset on Venice Beach in Los Angeles December 26, 2007. Four out of 10 Americans say they don't need a marriage certificate to prove love or commitment, according to a new online survey. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Overall, 44 percent of the 7,113 Americans aged 20 to 69 who took part in the poll by Zogby International and AOL Personals said they didn’t need marriage to validate their relationships.

“Across all age groups, you just don’t need a marriage certificate to mean love,” AOL Personals Director Keith Brengle told Reuters.

“People are coming online to find that special someone but that special someone doesn’t necessarily translate into a marriage, and more so with the folks in their 60s.”

Half the respondents between the ages 20 and 29 said marriage wasn’t necessary.

A majority of respondents also said they would prefer to live together first before marriage and most said marriage should truly be until “death do us part,” especially those in their 30s (73 percent).

Trust was ranked highly important to most singles polled, especially for those in their 20s.

Although 20-somethings said they were more open to experimenting with sexual relationships, they were also more willing to end a partnership over infidelity when compared to respondents in their 50s and 60s.

“Trust is still extremely important for the 20-somethings -- they wouldn’t work through any infidelities, they’d walk away,” Brengle said.

However, older respondents were more interested in companionship, didn’t feel the need to be married and were more comfortable accepting infidelity “as a part of life.”

“They’ve probably been tested so they’re much more accepting of things that traditionally you would think they wouldn’t be,” Brengle said.

“As such they’re going to be less likely to have to snoop through a partner’s things to try to find indiscretions.”

The survey also found that as people age they are more likely to believe that more than one soulmate exists.

A majority of those polled said they would date someone their friends found unattractive, were willing to date someone with different political or religious beliefs, a different race or a person with a physical disability.

However, the poll showed people were less willing to date someone with a life-long sexually transmitted disease or someone with poor hygiene.

The poll was conducted between Nov 9 and 12, 2007, and has a margin of error of +/- 1.2 percentage points.

Reporting by Natalie Armstrong; Editing by Paul Casciato