Shacking up. Cohabitation. Whatever you want to call it, we’re talking about moving in with your significant other. For some, it’s the next logical step in your relationship, and for others, it can reap controversy.
Living together means there is nowhere to hide. You’ll be sharing all of your personal space with another person. Those habits you think are normal, they could find annoying, and vice versa. Maybe you leave dirty towels on the floor only to learn that it’s their biggest pet peeve. Maybe your significant other cooked you a really nice dinner, promised to clean up, and then let the dishes ‘soak’ for five days. Maybe they lose track of bills, and don’t always pay on time. Maybe you want to have your friends over every weekend, and they don’t feel comfortable.
Are you ready to spend every day and night together? Ready to share the bills? Do you think you know everything there is to know about your boyfriend or girlfriend? Until you move in together, think again. Here are some things you’ll want to evaluate before deciding if you’re ready to live together:
How Much Time Do You Spend Together?
Do you already spend most of your free time together? Do you spend the night at each others’ places most nights of the week? If so, chances are you’re already clued in to some of your partner’s annoying habits, and they are aware of yours. You already know they don’t do their laundry regularly and they know you leave empty milk cartons in the refrigerator, and you can both handle it. Since you know each others’ quirks, you will most likely have a smoother transition into living together.
How do you feel about spending nights apart? If you genuinely miss each other and look forward to being together again, it’s a good sign you’re ready to live together. But if you go home, happy to sleep alone and have space to yourself, you might not be ready for the move-in step.
You Go On Vacation and Don’t Hate Each Other
Prior to moving in, one of the best ways to test your relationship is to go on a long vacation, a road trip, or a camping trip together. Any of these circumstances gives you opportunities to test your relationship in several ways. In these situations, you’ll have to make decisions about spending, responsibilities, where to go, and what to do. How do you handle discussing money? How do you, and your partner, handle getting lost? How do you negotiate tasks? Are they as patient as you want them to be?
A trip together is also an effective way to gauge how you feel about spending your time together, 24/7. Did you enjoy each others’ company? If you did, it’s a positive indicator that you are ready to live together.
Do You Want to Live Together for Financial Reasons?
Living together can often reduce financial stress, but money shouldn’t be the driving force behind moving-in together. If all you’re thinking about is money, chances are your relationship is not in a good place. Period.
Have You Talked About the Future?
Have you discussed being together long-term? Do you have the same feelings about the city you live in? Do you want to have kids in the next five years? These are all questions that need to be considered so you’ll know if you share the same relationship expectations with your boyfriend/girlfriend. If one of you wants to live together because it’s practical, and the other views living together as the next step towards marriage, you’re not on the same page and moving in isn’t the answer.
Can You Compromise?
Being able to compromise is one of the best tools you can have in your relationship toolbox. Have you been able to discuss if you’ll move into their place, if they’ll move into yours, or if you’ll find a new place together? Can you discuss furniture – what stays and what goes? Do you have pets to consider? Are you able to address and resolve problems in a healthy way with both opinions valued? If so, you’ll probably be able to navigate conflict after you move in together.
You’ve Been Dating Six Months (or more!)
The beginning of a relationship is often distinguished by euphoria. You put your new boyfriend or girlfriend on a pedestal, knowing everything they do, say, and feel is perfectly charming, and that they can do no wrong. Everything they do is “cute” and you can overlook any imperfection.
Eventually reality sets in.
Give yourself at least six months before deciding to live together. After six months, you should have a better understanding of your boyfriend/girlfriend’s personality, needs, wants, and ability to mesh with yours.
Moving in with your boyfriend or girlfriend can strengthen your relationship, or end it. Before packing any boxes, evaluate your relationship, reasons why you want to live together, your ability to compromise, and whether or not you genuinely like spending all of your time together.