This is an old one from the forums, but I thought it was worth re-visiting and discussing, especially since many of you may have missed it the first time and it’s an issue a lot of people face eventually.
There isn’t really a universal time frame for moving in together that works for every relationship, but in general, if you’re even thinking about moving in with someone before you know the answers to these five following questions, you’re moving too fast:
1. Does s/he see a future with you?
2. Does s/he want children?
3. What are his finances like and how does he handle money?
4. Does s/he anticipate moving to a new town in the next three years?
5. Has s/he lived with a partner before and if so, why did the relationship end?
You say that you have lived with several SOs, which indicates to me that you either move quickly or don’t see cohabitation as a step necessarily toward a longterm commitment but as a step toward convenience. The fact that the only reason you cite for wanting to move in with your current SO is that you are worn out from traveling between your two apartments certainly suggests the latter may be the case. And convenience just isn’t a good enough reason to move in with someone.
As many of us know, breaking up is hard. It’s exponentially harder when you share a living space with the person you’re ending a relationship with. Breaking a lease — or waiting until the end of one even though you’re so ready to move on — dividing belongings (and even pets), and untangling your integrated lives, all add salt to the open wound of a broken heart. Why risk putting yourself through that if you aren’t at least committed to the idea of spending you future with someone? Why move in with someone without feeling strongly you’ll still be together in five years? Because you’re tired of forgetting your shampoo at your apartment? Buy another bottle to keep at his! In fact, buy a separate set of everything you need to feel comfortable and put-together to keep at your partner’s place because that’s cheaper and easier than moving out of a home you share with someone you’ve fallen out of love with.
I speak from experience. When I was 24 I moved in with a boyfriend. We hadn’t discussed marriage. We hadn’t even discussed the next year. But we liked each other — on some level we even loved each other (we said we did, anyway, and I think we believed we did) — and we both wanted a fresh start in a new town. I picked Chicago and he decided to come along for the ride. Financially — and emotionally — it just made sense to share a place together. We didn’t move in together because it was the natural progression of our relationship or because we imagined a future together and wanted to test the waters of co-habitation. We moved in together because it was convenient. And that is a big reason why I stayed in a dead-end relationship about two years longer than I should have. It was just too inconvenient to break up. We shared furniture together! He helped with the bills! I’d gotten used to his financial support.
Don’t make the same mistake I did. Don’t move in with someone just because you’re already spending every night together anyway. Don’t move in together just because your lease is up and you figure if you pooled your money, you could get a much better apartment than either of you has now. Don’t move in together just because you need someone to help with the bills and you’re at the age where you’re starting to feel funny about having a roommate. These aren’t good enough reasons.
Move in with someone because you want to grow old together and sharing a home is a big step toward that. Move in together because you want to practice living in the same space before you get married. Move in with your partner because you want to share as much of your lives together as possible and you want to create a home that reflects who you are as a couple. But before you move in together — even for these solid reasons — make sure you do these 15 things first. They may potentially save you a lot of heartache … and packing tape.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.