Dating is the foundation for marriage — teaching us what we want, what we don’t want, and what we hope for and envision in the future. It’s common to consider living with your boyfriend or girlfriend before you get hitched or even engaged — just to see if you really can put up with each other on a daily basis.
However, before deciding to combine your unhealthy obsession with high heels and purses with his video games and color-coordinated ties, ask yourself these questions and think about the challenges you may, and most likely will, face.
Am I secure enough in myself?
The process of two becoming one is not an easy task — regardless if it’s moving in together or just being in a relationship. The healthiest of relationships allows both partners to be themselves and have individual tastes, desires and activities. Your significant other must be confident in himself, just as much as you are in yourself, so the relationship can grow strong enough to support two individuals living and growing together.
If you do decide your relationship and your self-confidence is up to the challenge, make sure you discuss the ideas of space before you move in together. Each week you should set aside a few hours for each of you to spend time alone. Even if your apartment or house is small, you each need to designate a space and place that caters to alone time. For you, it could be the bedroom or a relaxing bubble bath. For him, a few hours alone with the television or enjoying a hobby in the garage may give him the solo time he needs. If you aren’t confident enough in yourself and secure enough in your relationship to give one another space, you won’t function well in a living together situation.
Am I moving in with him for the right reasons?
Most women have dreamed of the moment when the man they’ve been searching for walks into their life by chance and they fall head over heels. Even more than meeting this magical man, women often fantasize about the moment he drops to one knee, promising everlasting love and asking her to spend the rest of her life with him. Consider if your childhood imagination outlined moving in with your prince charming before saying “I do.” And even more, consider if you’re interested in moving in with your boyfriend to see if your relationship can handle it or to see if you can receive your Harry Winston earlier.
For many couples who have moved in together, cohabitation wasn’t meant to test the relationship, but rather just the next logical step in a succeeding relationship. Other couples think moving in together is the best way to check the longevity ability of the relationship. And in some instances when two people decide to move in together, one party believes the change will speed up an engagement. However, according to some experts, moving-in together can delay the process and possibly even end the relationship.
Cinthia W. Pratt, a family and marriage coach and Sociology Professor at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., does not suggest cohabitation for any relationship.
“Research bears out that [cohabitation] causes greater stress on the couple, sets up unrealistic expectations, and almost always leads to early habitation, apathy and the couple breaking up,” she said.
Pratt always believes engagement is less likely when a couple moves in together.
“Men get comfortable in the status quo and have no reason to change things or marry,” she said.
Am I prepared to adjust to new changes?
Like anything good and worth working for in life, relationships go through a series of changes. From the first months of bliss and nights of passion to the first real fight and initial discussion about the future, relationships must roll with the tides and be strong enough to stand firm after any storm.
If your relationship is ready for the next big step and together you believe living together is the best decision, remember to keep in mind that your relationship will transform along with the appearance of the new apartment or home.
Not only will your boyfriend now be your partner and your lover but also your roommate. Like any other roommate you’ve had, there will be quirks or habits that drive each of you up the wall. Maybe he leaves the toilet seat up, or your long hairs clogging the drain annoy him more with every shower he takes. You’ll probably have to change some of your habits so that you’re both happy. Both of you also will have to make minor adjustments to your routines so you can create a well-oiled schedule that works for your relationship.
At every stage in a relationship, compromise must be something that’s understood and practiced by both individuals. Now that you will be managing a home or apartment together, you will learn even more about who the person you love is and what they are like at the everyday level. Living together makes some couples feel better prepared for marriage and gives them a better idea of what to expect in the years they will share together.
Nevertheless, before deciding to move in together, weigh the pros and cons and consider the nature of your decision. For cohabitation to work, both you and your boyfriend must have realistic expectations of what living together means: responsibility, the joining of your lives and money, and the next stage and change in your relationship.
You will have the mornings when you wake up side by side in the bedroom you share, looking at the clustering of your favorite painting with his favorite signed jersey and feel complete delight in your joint address. Other times, you will argue over his unwillingness to do the dishes and the aftermath of your 10-outfit change from yesterday morning. However, if your relationship is strong enough and ready to tackle any challenge, you will be able to enjoy the good and the bad and still be completely in love afterward.
Lindsay A. Tigar