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I made many mistakes during my dating years: pining after emotionally unavailable men, hanging around men I didn’t like just because they liked me, ruling out potential dates for superficial reasons, the list goes on.

But now, several months on the other side of married life, I believe there is one great decision I made while dating – deciding not to live with my husband before we got married.

Though at times it seemed financially impractical, living together was never a consideration for us. We agreed that we wanted to date while we were dating and be married when we got married.

This put us in a different mindset from many cohabitating couples we know who have been dating for years. Of course, there is no universal timetable for relationships because every couple moves at its own pace. In addition, some couples don’t want to ever get married. Just as men aren’t interested in buying a cow when they’re getting the milk for free, women have decided they don’t want to marry a pig when all they want is the sausage. However, I’ve observed women who want to marry their boyfriends yesterday, but have settled for playing house while waiting not-so-patiently for him to pop the question.

As a result, I advise any woman who is interested in getting married in a timely fashion to think twice before cohabitating.

I’m not saying there aren’t people who move in together, get engaged soon after, get married and live happily ever after, but it seems a mutually good experience is not the common outcome for cohabitating couples.

There are countless examples of cohabitation gone bad, yet every woman seems to think she will be different only to end up nodding her head just the same in recognition of Gabrielle Union’s character in the popular movie, Think Like A Man. Homegirl was living with her boyfriend for nine years without any semblance of commitment. That would have been funny, if not so sadly common.

The New York Times recently reported: chances are pretty good that a woman desiring to get married will find moving in together just postpones marriage indefinitely, results in a less satisfied marriage and/or increases the likelihood of divorce. The Times found that cohabitating couples are more likely to have kids than get married.

So, why do people continue to support this failed relationship model?

The most ridiculous of arguments is that people are using “cohabitation as a way to ‘test drive’ a marriage.” For one, a marriage is not a car. And even if it were a car, the “test drive” would be dating not cohabitating. No car company would allow you to take their car home, drive it all over town for years, eating and spilling in it, getting into fender benders, and generally treating the car like it is yours to keep.  That is what kind of “test drive” you’re engaging in when you compare it to cohabitating.

Further, there is no way to test a marriage without actually being married.

Sure, it’s important to get to know the person you want to marry, but you can know enough about someone you’re dating without living with him. For instance, if he insists on moving in with you right away, you know he lacks patience. (Just kidding…sort of.) Thinking of my own marriage, there are things that make my husband and I different that we didn’t know until we got married, but those things aren’t dealbreakers and would not have been worth finding out beforehand.

The progression in our relationship and the clear distinction of our married life from our dating life is much more exciting and valuable than knowing beforehand if we fold towels the same.

Besides, when does a “test drive” morph into a “committed drive”? If you’re still claiming to be test-driving your marriage years after moving in together then you’re kidding yourself. Someone in that relationship is being led like a clueless horse with a carrot dangling in front of it, biding their time until they realize it’s being wasted.

If you want to be married, then you deserve to be with someone who wants to marry you. Why settle for someone who wants to drag you through a grueling, multi-year audition only to possibly decide that you’re not right for the part? You deserve someone who isn’t wanting to play pretend by living together because he would much rather have you for real in a marriage.


Alissa is a writer living in Columbus, OH. Follow her on Twitter @AlissaInPink or check out her blog: This Cannot Be My Life

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