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Can a relationship move forward if one of you wants to take a step backward?

move out is this petty

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I was talking to a friend earlier in the week who was telling me that the guy she’s been seeing for the last two years, whom she lives with, told her that he’s thinking about moving out. It’s not because they’re having relationship trouble (at least, that’s what he says), but rather, because the apartment he has been renting out while he’s lived with her has a vacancy that he hasn’t been able to fill. He wants to stay there for a while and spruce things up, and maybe if it feels like the right fit, stay there. She gets it, but she’s also in her feelings about it. She’s not jumping at the idea of moving into his smaller space with him in the future, but if they don’t live together after cohabitating for more than a year, she worries that they will be regressing as a couple. Where do they go from here?

It might sound unorthodox, the idea of one party moving out while the expectation stands that the relationship will continue, but this is a dilemma quite a few people have dealt with, and for worse reasons.

Like the woman who wrote into Refinery29 and admitted that she moved in with her boyfriend too soon (after three months). She was regretting it and thinking about telling him she wants to move out.

Or the woman who snapped at her boyfriend for being more focused on his videogames and the convenience of sharing rent than on working on their relationship as lovers and roommates. She admitted that she came off much harsher than intended, and that after the fact, he told her he wanted to move out to have space, but stay together.

Or like the woman, who in a post on LoveShack said she was shocked to find out her boyfriend wanted to move out. While she hadn’t come down hard on him like the woman from the previous example, it was the fact that she made more than him that made him want to move out. He paid her a little rent in the home she owned and he felt like he wasn’t contributing enough. If he moved out and focused on bettering himself, he felt he could be a better partner and roommate.

While all of the reasons behind these decisions to bail on cohabitation are different, they all end with the same expectations: We’ll live separately, but stay together. Is that feasible?

The truth is, just because a couple doesn’t physically stay together after trying it out doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed. Sometimes we decide to move in with one another for reasons that don’t have a great deal to do with doing so because your relationship is ready for that step. It’s often to save money, because you’re still in the honeymoon phase and therefore ignoring all of the glaring differences between you, or because someone threw it out there and it feels like the right thing to do. But there are few things that test a relationship like making the leap to live together. When you’re not truly ready for that, including all of the necessary talking yourself off a ledge (and off of your partner’s a– when you’re upset about him not washing the food he flossed out of his teeth down the bathroom sink), you’re bound to have some trouble making it work. When you’re mentally not ready to compromise and be patient and choose love (as I like to say), you’re going to want to throw in the towel on the whole thing, not just on living together.

But moving out and getting yourselves together separately can actually be great for your relationship. Just ask Christina Wolfgram, who wrote for Hello Giggles last year that the decision to stop living together (in one room she and her boyfriend rented out of someone else’s flat) made her relationship stronger and put things into perspective:

It’s been six months since I un-moved in with my boyfriend. We are lucky enough to see each other a few times a week, and I still get giddy when I see his toothbrush in my medicine cabinet. When I tell people that we aren’t living together anymore, they assume the worst. “I’m so sorry you didn’t make it,” they say. “You guys just weren’t ready.”

Well, that’s half true. Our relationship is going strong, but we weren’t ready to live together. While we’re sure of our feelings for each other, our lives are full of uncertainty — about passing the bar (him) and season 6 of Pretty Little Liars (me). Hopefully, by the time we un-un-move in together, we will be “on our feet,” as they say, with more established careers and enough money for more than one room to share.

With that being said, it’s about communication and knowing that you both are on the same page. When you speak openly about how you’re feeling in your living situation, why you want to move out and where you stand on the relationship, you can live separately and still know that you’re a unit. And when the time comes where you both feel like you’re in a better place to share space and work together to do so in harmony, you will be able to do that. Hell, married people do it all of the time when things get rocky. Why can’t people in long-term relationships when necessary…?

But per the usual, that’s just my opinion. What say you? Does it spell the end of your relationship if one of you wants to move out or can it work? 

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