Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Israel News

Yid Lit: Hannah Seligson

What do you call couples who live together, co-own pets and property, and celebrate the Sabbath with each other’s families, all without ever uttering “I do”? Journalist Hannah Seligson calls them “a little bit married” (ALBM), a term she coined after her own painful breakup and after watching her friends — urban, college-educated 20- and 30-somethings — build long-term monogamous relationships unbound by state law. The Forward’s Allison Gaudet Yarrow caught up with Seligson, whose new guide, “A Little Bit Married: How to Know When It’s Time To Walk Down the Aisle or Out the Door,” published in December by De Capo Lifelong Books, dissects this burgeoning trend.


Almost Married: Hannah Seligson says the long-term relationship is a new rite of passage. Image by DA CAPO LIFELONG BOOKS, HEIDI GREEN

Allison Gaudet Yarrow: The long-term relationship has become a rite of passage, like a first kiss. How did this happen?

Hannah Seligson: We don’t have the same rush to meet the milestones of adulthood, so people think, “I have much longer to date and figure out marriage.”

What’s the difference between marriage in our parents’ generation and ours?

Women used to marry for two reasons: sex and money. It used to be too risky to have sex outside of marriage before the advent of the birth control pill.

How has money affected ALBM couples?

There has been a huge uptick in cohabitation since the recession. People are moving in to save costs.

Why is it important to discuss religion as a couple?

If he’s Jewish and she wants a Christmas tree, how are you going to feel about that when you’re married? How about raising kids? These huge issues must be discussed, and it’s easier when you are still at the negotiating table as opposed to at the altar.

How can you get around the timeline that you set or that friends or family set for you when it isn’t going to happen?

You can’t marry a clock. People think: “I’m 30. I thought I’d reach these milestones.” It’s not the way it used to be. If your goal is to get married but you’re waiting for the perfect person, maybe it’s time to rethink your expectations.

What are the signs couples should look for when it’s time for somebody to walk out the door?

If you’re not on the same page about the big life issues: religion, money, sex. If one person in the relationship doesn’t want to move forward.


Listen to the full interview with Hannah Seligson below:

A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.