By Nick BeJeaux
Moving in with your significant other is a massive step in a relationship, and it can make or break any partnership. Drawing on five years in a relationship (married for more than a year), I’d like to offer some tips about entering (or staying away from) this crucial phase. Not every relationship is the same, but some things, like common sense, apply to everyone.
Rule #1: Do not move in with someone that you don’t want to live with.
It sounds like common sense right? But many people rush into moving in with someone despite voice in their head shouting, “YOU WILL REGRET THIS!” Never, ever let yourself be pressured into moving in with someone. If you feel pressured, talk to them about it. How they react to that discussion will determine if you should move in, or even stay in a relationship, with them. Remember, a breakup only hurts for a little while; breaking a lease can end up costing you thousands of dollars in fees and hurting you down the road.
Rule #2: Moving in together is not necessary to form a long-term relationship.
Plenty of people feel obligated to move in with someone they’ve been with for a long time, especially when marriage is on the table. But being with the same person for years and an interest in something more permanent does not mean you should move in with them, at least not yet, if you don’t want to. Having the ability to separate for a day or two can help resolve an argument. Distance offers perspective, and that is very important for couples that are still figuring each other out.
Rule #3: Set boundaries and responsibilities early – and change them when they need to be changed.
Boundaries are very important to have when you move in with your partner; a lack thereof can lead to a lack of respect or even outright indifference. Yes, you live together and you’re in love, but you’re entitled to your privacy. Be upfront about your pet peeves — using your stuff without permission, obnoxiously loud music, leaving food out — before they start a fight later. If you don’t know how to do the laundry, cook dinner, or do the dishes (or how to share responsibility for these tasks), learn fast. This not only makes you more attractive to your partner but eliminates the chance of them becoming resentful over having to do all the work around the house. As Samwise Gamgee once said, share the load.
Living together also provides a greater amount of opportunities for sex, and it is incredibly important to talk about this. It’s a great time to get know your partner’s wants and desires, but being vague about what you’re ready for can send mixed signals and can lead to some very awkward, even damaging, moments. You’re adults, you live together; be honest with each other about what you want, like, and don’t like.
Rule #4: Moving in together is not necessarily “settling down.”
Think of it as consolidation — establishing a home base from which you and your lover can take on the world (or at least everywhere between BR and NOLA). Living together means you share bills, which means you’ll both be concerned about each other’s finances – yet another part of growing up. But just because you have to deal with adult things doesn’t mean you have to stop having fun. In fact, with your powers (and checking accounts) combined, it should be easier now more than ever before to run off on a spontaneous adventure
Rule #5: Before moving in with someone, always take a test drive. Literally.
Moving in with someone means you WILL end up arguing about something – be it rent, household responsibilities, bad habits, etc. There is no greater preliminary pressure test than a three-day road trip. Knowing the limits of your partner is very important when you’re about to sign a 12-month lease together. If your honey can’t hang when the money runs low, a tire blows out, or a hobo with a knife steals your wallet or purse, then it might be wise to seek companionship and a roommate elsewhere.