Is it time to move in together? Are you ready to share a place, occupy the same space, see your mate first thing when you get up and last thing before you go to sleep? Do you enjoy the idea of having tea or coffee for two in the morning and meals at night and possibly in between?
Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But before you agree to put your shoes side by side under the same bed, think it through – very carefully. This isn’t just a sleepover; it’s a big chunk of your life and your future happiness.
Why Move in Together?
What are your reasons for wanting to make the move? To spend more time together? Do you see this as the first step toward a long-term relationship? Marriage? Kids? Because it’s what people who have been dating a while eventually do?
Two can live more cheaply than one; is this your primary reason for cohabitating? Hold on a minute. I hope not. Saving money needs to be separated from matters of the heart or you’re just choosing to be roommates. Are you absolutely sure finances are not the main reason you want to live together as a couple?
On the other hand, if the rationale for both of you is predominantly to save money first, grow a relationship second, all righty, then. Your goals are aligned. Just be sure that’s what you both want and are admitting it to one another up front. And be sure that you can both live with those priorities.
The Practical Aspects of the Move
So your goals are aligned and all systems go. On the practical side, after the hassle of the move itself, you’ll be minimizing the travel time it takes to see one another. You’ll avoid having to plan to see each other, pack a bag, find a pet sitter, make sure you leave the house without forgetting something … And think of the savings on gas and wear and tear on your vehicle (half kidding on this one).
Discussing a Life Together
Have you both discussed what moving in together means to each of you? Do you know why you want it, why your mate wants it? Have you had that discussion? Are your separate reasons and goals in sync? Do you want it more than your mate does or vice versa? Ask each other the hard questions. Better to know now than later after the move.
A Trial Run
Have you considered practicing living together for a brief period of time? … A week or two? A month, if it’s doable? … Before you pull the plug on your apartment lease or put your home up for sale? This should give you a better sense and some assurance if it feels right to make it permanent.
How does it feel to be with your mate more or less 24/7? Are you getting to know his habits? Her idiosyncrasies? Quirks? A trial run is a good barometer for how your future will be together.
Another option is to do a quickie-trial run: take a vacation together. Granted, it’s not the same as the day in, day out living together but it will let you see how well you plan and cooperate with one another, and deal with the unexpected.
So the next question is, your place, theirs, or a new place? That can be an obvious decision or one for careful consideration. Work out all the angles, the pros and cons. What’s your gut reaction? What’s his/hers?
Don’t Be in a Rush
If you’re putting pressure on yourself, getting pressure from him/her or your family or friends you may not be totally committed to the idea. Pay attention to your comfort level. If a lot of questions are popping up in your mind, if you’re losing sleep, having panic attacks, experiencing depression, stop and reflect. No fast decisions are necessary. No one is holding a gun to your head.
Get to the bottom of your concerns. What are you telling yourself? Are you having second thoughts? Are you confused … some moments you think it will work, other times not?
You don’t have to make snap decisions. Delay the move. Put it off temporarily. Discuss this with your mate. Maybe decide to delay the move for a few months … maybe even a year. Then revisit the idea, reevaluate. You should feel comfortable and eager if and when the time is right.
Skeletons in the Closet
When you decide to move in, you can’t keep all your secrets a secret. You’ve got to come clean about your health, your finances, loan debts, legal trouble, bad habits, addictions, family conflicts. This is “fess up” time.
Put it all out in the open. What’s your credit score? What’s his/hers? You’ll find out some of these soon enough when you go apply for an apartment lease, get signed on as an additional renter, or sign a contract for a home loan. But it’s best not to let yourself or your mate be taken by surprise. Spill the beans ahead of time.
Relationship Problems Magnify
You and your mate have had spats if you’ve been with each other for any length of time. You know each others’ hot buttons. Do you have reoccurring arguments? Conflicts that haven’t gotten resolved, just accepted or forgotten – until the next time? If you’re living together, these problems will only get worse if they’re not fixed.
What Are You Committing to Besides Each other?
Be aware that you are co-mingling your stuff when you move in together. It might be a rental agreement or a mortgage. In some states, a common law marriage kicks in after a period of time, which means everything is jointly owned by you and your live-in partner. It’s like a marriage without the license and ceremony. There are long-term consequences.
If you have children living with you, your live-in mate would then be a part of their lives too. What role do you want them to play in the raising of their child? If your mate has children, the same concerns and questions apply. How do the kids feel about it? Could there be resistance or friction? Do they accept your mate? Do his kids accept you? If not, time may mend problems – or worsen them. Do you get along with his dog? What about his cat and your allergic reaction? If you both have animals, do they get along with one another?
What If It Doesn’t Work Out?
For whatever reason … even though you’ve had discussions, shared your hopes, dreams, concerns, had the best intentions, got the feel-good vibes, love each other … sometimes moving in together doesn’t work out.
For this reason, always plan for this possibility. Plan a way to leave. Don’t box yourself in, become so dependent on your mate either financially or emotionally that you become a prisoner to your decision, your life together. Have an exit strategy and don’t be afraid to use it if in your heart of hearts you can clearly see it’s not working. If everything checks out and all systems go … congratulations! May you have many wonderful years together.