FIGURE OUT IF YOU’RE ACTUALLY READY
While some duos feel ready to take this step after just 3 months, others may not want to even bring it up until 5 years down the road. There’s no failsafe answer surrounding how soon is too soon. But, there are a lot of things you can ask yourself to give you a pretty good idea. Here are a few:
- Do you see this relationship being a long-term thing, or does it have an expiration date?
- Do you ever find yourself feeling suffocated by your girlfriend after spending too much time together (or vice versa)?
- Do you not spend that many nights together currently?
- Have you had any big fights that were more painful than they were constructive?
- Do you find yourself keeping secrets? Do you suspect her of keeping secrets?
- Are your lives compatible?
- Do you have similar career goals?
- If one person was offered a job in another city, state, or country, would you be willing to make the move together?
If you’re sitting there staring off into space struggling to answer any of these questions, do not pass go. Do not collect $200. At least, not yet. Wait until you’ve hit a few more milestones in your relationship and straighten out a few things before you bring up the idea moving in together, or else you’re only sabotaging what could potentially be a good thing down the road.
DEFINE YOUR REASONS
Why are you thinking of giving up your bachelor pad to shack up with your SO? If, at any point, your biggest selling point is the cheaper cost of living, think again. You’re not just going to be sharing your space, you’re going to be sharing your lives. The ONLY valid reason you should be living together is if you really feel like your relationship is in a good place, you both communicate in healthy ways, and your lives (jobs, lifestyles, etc.) are complementary to one another. Remember, this is a HUGE step, and there are typically no do overs. The only time you’d probably be living alone after taking this step is if you break up. So, just keep that in mind, and make sure that you’re both serious about the relationship first and then decide. Also, if one person has reservations, don’t try to force the decision. Instead, talk it out, voice any and all concerns, and try to get to the bottom of all the pros and cons. After you talk it through, it should be a mutual and comfortable decision for all parties involved. Don’t feel the need to lie if you’re not ready. Clear and mature communication can diffuse any reservations he or she has.
Talking about money can be awkward and draining, but it’s an important step to see where you both stand. Living together means entering a financially-binding agreement. You have to make sure you understand what you’re working with so you can make smart decisions about paying rent, dividing up utilities, and affording other unexpected expenses that will no doubt be coming your way. You don’t necessarily need to have a joint bank account, but again, communicate about money and don’t be afraid to point out when the other is spending lavishly.
SET SOME GROUND RULES
You know those “Expectation/Reality” posts you’ve probably seen popping up in your newsfeed on Facebook? Yeah, don’t let your relationship post-move turn into meme fodder. Just because you are dating doesn’t mean you can let the ball drop when it comes to setting the ground rules for your new place. Just like you would with a roommate, but especially so with your significant other. Sit down and have a discussion about both of your expectations. Namely, how you’re going to divide things like cleaning responsibilities, how groceries and meals are cooked and how other rules, if any, will dictate how you share your space. If you’re the kind of gentleman who likes to have friends over every now and then, and she is more of an introvert, discuss how you’ll go about inviting people to come around. Talk about things early so that you have no reason to get aggravated about small issues, like taking out the trash or putting the toilet seat down (seriously guys, it’s not hard), later on down the road.
GO ON DATES (SERIOUSLY)
More often than not, moving in together means that your relationship will change big-time. Specifically, your intimate relationship might fluctuate a bit once you’re together 24/7. It’s so easy for people that live together to get so comfortable having the other person around that they forget that being in a relationship is HARD WORK. You have to put in the effort and make time to spend time with one another beyond your mundane routines. One easy thing you can do to keep the spark alive is to commit to a ritual–say, one date night a month–that allows you and your partner to spend quality time together. It can be something as simple as making a candlelit dinner together or going to local comedy club. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does have to take some active consideration. You’ve put a lot of effort into your relationship thus far. After finding a place and signing the lease, make sure to put the same amount of effort into your love for them too.
AVOID SHUTTING OUT THE WORLD
And, of course, don’t be the couple that moves in together and shuts out the world! Make a habit of regularly finding time to hang out with other important people in your life, whether it’s by throwing parties, going out for drinks… whatever. The point is that it’s healthy to make sure you’re not exclusively spending time with one another now that you’re living together. Shake things up, bring the entire group of friends over for dinner or an adult game night every once in awhile, and you will likely have more well-balanced and fun life together in your new place.
Gentlemen, moving in with your significant other is a big step. Consider it seriously, talk it through thoroughly with your partner and leave no stone unturned. By laying everything out on the table to start and talking about issues before hand, you’ll set the stage for what could be the start of something insurmountably fantastic.