UPDATED: Jan. 17, 2021 —
Have you noticed how often couples break up after taking a major leap? You see couples divorced before their two-year anniversary, or breaking up during the trip to meet each other’s family. Moving in together is a huge milestone that can sometimes trigger a breakup. It’s odd because you’d think the reason these couples took these big steps—meeting the family, moving in together, getting married—is because they felt like they were on such solid ground. So how could a breakup be so close on the heels?
You have to remember that just because a couple makes a big leap doesn’t mean they were ready. A lot of people don’t quite know what their relationship is made of and making a larger commitment to their partner only shows them the truth.
Here are 8 reasons why moving in together can kill a relationship:
1. Cleanliness can trump the connection
If neither person has lived with a partner before—or even a roommate—then they’re used to having things their way. Having another person around can mean towels on the floor, dirty dishes that sit for days, and friends showing up that you didn’t invite. Some people get so fixated on not having things their way anymore, that they completely forget they love their partner.
2. A full house is better than an empty one
Sometimes a breakup is delayed for fear of wanted to be alone in a home. When you don’t live together you can make educated decisions about your future, without the influence of your partner with you.
3. You give criticism the wrong way
Another thing that can happen when someone isn’t used to roommates is he or she can give criticism the wrong way. Giving a note about leaving laundry on the floor or putting away dishes comes out as a personal attack—way meaner than the person meant it to—because they hold in their frustration until it bursts.
4. A dirty dish becomes personal
It’s important to realize that your partner doesn’t leave dirty dishes out, or forget to do his chores because he wants to upset you. If you can remember that the dirty dish isn’t an attack on you, then hopefully you can give a note about the dirty dishes in a neutral manner. There’s a big difference between, “Hey babe could you pick up your dishes a bit more?” and “You leave dishes everywhere—you’re such a mess; your whole life is a mess!”
Remember it’s not the note-giver who is taking things personally but the note-receiver. Some people can’t accept a little criticism about their cleanliness without feeling like it’s a personal attack.
5. You keep score of the wrongs
Keeping score can happen within a relationship even when a couple doesn’t live together, but it gets much worse when they do. And keeping score is never good. If your partner points out that you forgot to clean this one thing, you don’t need to then list off everything he’s ever forgotten to clean.
Here’s the thing: the ultimate goal should be creating an environment where you’re both happy to live. It shouldn’t be about being right or proving the other one wrong. Nobody can really successfully keep score—it can go on forever with no results—but even if you were to keep score and find your partner the loser, what would that win you? Nothing. Bad vibes and a house that was still messy.
6. It can be hard to claim alone time
Some couples don’t know how to claim alone time. Before living together, they weren’t comfortable saying, “I need alone time today” but they were lucky enough to just get it sometimes, because they lived separately. Now, they have to rely on their communication skills to get alone time, and they don’t have any. Eventually, they just feel like they’re smothering each other.
Couples can be so sensitive about this; worrying they’ll hurt the other one’s feelings if they want alone time. Meanwhile, they both want it, are pretending they don’t, and are suffering for nothing. If this is your reality, just ask for alone time. It won’t kill you. In fact, it’ll make you actually enjoy time together. Live in your truth and do things that make you happy.
7. There’s added pressure
There can be this freaky moment after a couple moves in—this, “Is this my life forever now?” moment. Moving in together is a big commitment. If you wanted to back out, it would involve breaking leases, sleeping on friends’ couches until you found a new place, and possibly a lot of money. When that reality sinks in, it can create pressure for things to go well, and ultimately cause unnecessary fights.
Are things going well, right now? Great. Then don’t worry about what would happen if things went south. Having a doomsday mentality usually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Be smart and try to keep a level head.
8. The move-in is a band-aid
Sometimes, the reason the couple moved in together is because the relationship is failing. They hoped—in some twisted way—that furthering their commitments would force them to work things out. When this is the case, things very rarely work out.
Committing to an already failing relationship, further, will never fix that relationship. Living together, getting married, and having babies are all Band-Aids people try to slap on a relationship that’s already bleeding out. The pressure of the new commitment typically just heightens the problems that already existed, and ushers in the breakup.
All of these points highlight one thing: there’s never a reason to rush moving in together. You should be entirely comfortable with each other and yourself. You should be willing to admit when you’re wrong. You should be able to claim alone time. You can’t be overly sensitive. Your relationship needs to be on solid ground. Each of those things needs to be true, or else moving in can just be a couple’s demise.
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