How To Tell In Advance If Moving In Together Is A Good Idea

May 16, 2013  |  
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Before the entire day is spent configuring, packing, and taping up boxes; before the $300 is spent on movers; before giving up the apartment you love and searched for for months, and the selling of half your belongings that won’t fit in the new place, you should know—and we mean know—that cohabitation is more of a good idea than a bad one. And here’s how.

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Do you know every gritty detail?

Finding out your partner’s odd habits and quirks when you don’t live together is exciting, and feels totally manageable. But finding those out while you live together feels one hundred times more surprising and stressful. You get that, “Yikes! I’m stuck with this” feeling instead of the more calm, “Okay. I’ll see how I can work with this” feeling you could get if you still had separate homes. In other words, the process of getting to know each other should not happen under the pressure of wondering if it will work out forever.

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You already sleep together most nights

The majority of couples who experience a successful conjoining of homes spent most nights together before moving in. If you’re already sharing a bed, and keeping belongings at one another’s places five or six nights a week you’re halfway to a harmonious cohabitation.

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You’ve survived fights

Just because you’ve never argued doesn’t mean you’re perfect for one another. It simply means nothing has come up yet, and you can’t really know how strong of a couple you are until your relationship is tested by conflict. And living together is filled with conflict—tiny and substantial. You need to have your conflict resolution methods worked out in advance.

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You’ve vacationed together

Sleeping at each other’s places throughout the week is a good indicator of move-in success, however you’re still predominantly leading separate lives. But on a vacation, your collective happiness depends on how you can keep to the same schedule and accommodate one another’s needs constantly because you don’t go on a vacation together to hang out separately. If you’ve gone on a vacation together and enjoyed it, you might have a shot at living together.

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You’re beyond the honeymoon phase

Many relationship therapists will say this phase ends at around a year, and moving in together before it’s over is not a good idea. During the honeymoon phase, there are actual chemicals floating around in your body that make you feel ecstatic around your partner. But those die down and what’s left is the harsh reality of whether or not you are compatible. It’s almost impossible to accurately assess that while you’re still in the honeymoon phase.

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You can talk about your concerns

If you have any concerns about moving in together, that’s normal. In fact, if you haven’t been able to check off everything on this list, that’s okay too. But you should feel comfortable talking to your partner about that fact, and seeing what you can do to fix it. Communication will be key to a peaceful living situation.

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Do your spending habits add up?

Before moving in together, your respective spending habits affected your relationship very little. But once you move in together, you’re making financial decisions together constantly. Determine if your partner is a shopping addict/extremely thrifty/a saver/a spender before moving in together and if that’s something you can work with.

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Can you hang out in silence?

Can you happily sit in the same room as your partner for hours, each of you engaged in separate activities, and still feel content that you’ve spent quality time together? If that concept makes you antsy, you and your partner may not be very bonded. And you’ll experience a lot of that anxiety living together because you can’t be chit chatting all the time.

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How much space do you need?

Are you ready to have someone in your home all of the time (in theory—you both have jobs and lives of course)? If that idea puts you in panic mode, you may need a few more years of single living.

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If you had your dream house and all the money in the world, would you still live together?

The only reason you should be moving in together is because you want to be with this person, ideally for the rest of your life. Face it: moving out would be a major pain, and you wouldn’t be moving in if that felt like a real possibility. So you shouldn’t be moving in because together you can afford a nicer place, or because you hate your current situation and he invited you into his beautiful condo. If everything about your current financial and living situation were perfect, would you still choose to live with this person? The answer should be a strong yes.

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What does moving in together mean to the both of you?

Again, if you’re smart, you’ll only move in together with someone whom you feel pretty positive you’ll be with for the long haul. But is that what moving in together means to your partner? To some it simply means things are good for now. For others it means a marriage proposal will happen within a year. For others it means you’ll have kids together! Make sure you and your partner have the same expectations for this major transition.

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You’re apprehensive

You should be nervous and excited! That’s normal. If not one concern or worry has crossed your mind, then you need to step back and work yourself into a healthy worry, workout those worries in your head or with your partner, and then come to a place of calm that you arrive at because you’ve thought of things—not because you’re oblivious to the risks.

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Your friends have no concerns

Usually when things are right between you and somebody, even when you’re nervous, your friends feel completely calm for you. From the outside, they have a clearer perspective on how things will work out in the long run for the two of you. Annoying, but true. If your friends warmly encourage you to take this leap, and you already want to, then let their calm take the place of yours for now. And go for it.

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You feel your life is complete

If you feel that your life is completely whole, happy and satisfying without this move, then and only then are you ready to move in together. If you’re not happy as an individual, moving in with your partner will only drive you to cling to him even more for a feeling of completeness, and will give you more of an excuse to stop working on yourself.

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