Boston marriage

From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Warning icon orange.svg This page contains too many unsourced statements and needs to be improved.

Boston marriage could use some help. Please research the article's assertions. Whatever is credible should be sourced, and what is not should be removed.

We're so glad you came
Icon sex.svg
Reach around the subject
Gender signs.png

A Boston marriage is a term that originated in the 19th-20th century denoting cohabitation of two unmarried women, instead of conventional marriage arrangements. The origin of this sort of arrangement was certainly a sign of changing times, and was closely linked to the burgeoning feminist movement. Although the term does not explicitly indicate a sexual relationship, in context a bond of love and even attraction was, and is still often attributed to it. It is related to the earlier term 'romantic friendship' that indicated a similar (but not always cohabitative) relationship in earlier centuries.


As young unmarried women began to be admitted into more universities and colleges, they would seek out suitable living situations to accommodate them. However, in the early days of such practices an educated woman often found her marriage prospects incredibly reduced. As in, many of them found them obliterated. Seeking a stable life in the even more strongly heteronormative 19th century without a man was a difficult task to say the least; deeply entrenched in the feminist movement, young women could gravitate to each other safely.

At the very least, a Boston marriage may be seen as a practical arrangement, such as a combined household in order to reduce costs. However, that does not imply such a house would be without affection. Shared activities often included holidays to remote ports of call together, long walks in the park, and riotous pillow-fights in slinky night attire. They also tended to be seen together in social circumstances, making them something slightly more than just roommates or best friends. However, the word 'lesbian' wasn't even in usage, and in context women were deemed at the time to have passive sexualities and no natural desires,[note 1] so cohabitation (even of the same bed) was looked on surprisingly innocently.[note 2]

In the modern era[edit]

Although the term fell out of common use as non-marriage cohabitation became more prevalent, Boston marriages are still quite common among young women of college age and marginally older. However, as there is still an enormous social pressure to get married, confirmed bachelorettes may band together as a more preferable alternative to living with relatives or alone. Also, we can talk about lesbian relationships in polite conversation now, so it's not like we have to beat around the bush anymore.

Due to economic reasons, unmarried same-sex couples in the USA are on the rise. The economic situation left many people moving back in with their families, and where that was not an option, many moved in with their friends. Of course, with same-sex and homosexual couples receiving more acceptance (well, comparatively) there's reduced need for them to hide behind evasive terms such as this one.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Boston was the first major city[note 3] in the United States where a Boston Marriage could also become a legal marriage.[note 4]

See also[edit]


  1. Obviously these ideas have long been confirmed false.
  2. Oh, they must have had a gay old time.
  3. Followed a few years later by… cities in California, and then, of all places, Des Moines, Iowa.
  4. Unless you consider Framingham, Worcester, or Cambridge to be major cities. They do. This was written a few years ago. Please see the "see also" section…