My boyfriend, Dan, and I recently celebrated our one-year anniversary—of moving in together, that is. There wasn’t a cake or gifts exchanged or anything, but we did high five over it. It’s a pretty big accomplishment, considering how many couples do not survive that first year of living with one another.
Moving in with your significant other can be a huge positive step in any relationship—but the extra commitment and implied expectations can put serious stress on even the happiest of couples. And if you want to successfully share your home with your boyfriend or girlfriend, navigating these obstacles ahead of time is key.
To make sure you’re prepared before taking the plunge, here are five questions to ask yourself before moving in together.
1. Do I Really Want to Be Doing This?
Before you pack up a single box, take some time to really consider whether this is something you want to be doing. It’s okay to feel scared—big changes can potentially equal big disasters. But if you feel like you’re being pressured into it, or you just don’t see the relationship going any further, be vocal about it now. It’s much easier to end things before you sign that lease together than after.
2. Is This Going to Move Us Forward?
One of the most common reasons that cohabitating couples break up is that one partner has different expectations for where the relationship is going, and at what speed. Living together is a fun and exciting adventure for the two of you, but it’s also easy to get complacent in the situation and use it as an excuse to not move on to larger commitments. Living together in the long-term without moving forward with marriage and kids is absolutely fine—as long as you and your significant other are on the same page from the very beginning about it.
3. Do We Have Fun Together?
Because we’re totally cheesy, Dan and I like to joke that living together is like getting to have a sleepover every night with your best friend (and with no adult supervision!). During the days I look forward to the evenings, when we’re both done with work and we can just relax and hang out. More so than just with a normal roommate, you have to really enjoy being in your other half’s company when you’re living with a significant other. There is no “okay, I’ll go to my room and you go to yours tonight”—you share one room, and you better really want to be around the person sharing that room with you.
4. Do Our Lifestyles Match Up?
Many successful couples are comprised of two people with completely different friends, interests, personalities, and habits. The differences that seem like no big deal when your lives are relatively separate, however, can sometimes become a huge issue once you’re living together. If you’re expecting movie night every Tuesday but your boyfriend wants to continue having drunken Tuesday trivia night at his favorite bar, you’ll need to figure that out sooner rather than later. Just because you have different lifestyles, doesn’t mean it can’t work—compromising here can go a long way. But those guidelines really should ideally be set before agreeing to make the commitment and move in together.
5. Is This a Good Financial Decision for Both of Us?
Just as you shouldn’t move in together just because it makes sense financially, you also shouldn’t make the move if money seems like it’s going to be a serious issue. If you have very different incomes and one of you will have trouble meeting the rent, or if the move would cause one of you to have double the commuting costs—those are both good reasons to take a step back and evaluate your decision. If it’s clear that serious financial discrepancies are going to arise, figure them out before committing to make the move. And if you have to put off moving in together for a while until you both get some financial stability, do so—it’ll be better for both of you in the long run.
Living with your significant other is not always an easy situation to navigate, but under the right circumstances, it can be a wonderful step forward in your relationship. So, it’s crucial to answer these questions before making a final decision. Figure out the big stuff now and, as long as you and your partner have love and respect for each other, all the little stuff will work itself out.
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