Before you take the plunge, consider this...
When you love someone, you might be tempted to move in together. It’s often a practical decision. If you spend all your time with your significant other, you might have considered the rent and utility money you could save by joining your households — not to mention the extra time you’d get together.
You might even romanticize the idea of going to sleep with them and waking up beside them. While all that sounds lovely, it’s important to evaluate if moving in together is a smart move or an impulse you’ll later regret.
How Soon Is Too Soon to Move in Together
How soon is too soon to move in together? It’s a popular question, isn’t it? In fact, expect your family and friends to be alarmed if you decide to move in with someone you just met. It might seem like you’re taking the honeymoon phase a bit too far to rush straight into cohabitation.
There are many reasons to take this step other than the financial considerations and the convenience of seeing each other every day. A Relationship Development Study reported in Psychology Today cited that other reasons could include evaluating compatibility before marriage, raising a child together, and increasing the commitment in the relationship. Another key reason people are moving in together is that some couples don’t support the institution of marriage but are open to sharing their lives with someone.
An article in Psych Central reports that same-sex couples usually move in together around the 6-month mark while other couples tend to wait up to 2 years. In fact, many people choose to live together for an average of 3 years before marrying.
This isn’t to say that 6 months is too little time or 2 years is too much. How soon is too soon depends on the couple in question. Let’s take a look at some other signs that you’re just not ready for cohabitation quite yet.
9 Signs You Are Not Ready to Move in Together
Cohabitation sounds wonderful — in theory. In practice, it can be challenging to join your life with someone else’s. Things get messy — both literally and figuratively speaking. Here are 9 signs you’re not quite ready to make the move.
#1 You Haven’t Talked Openly About Your Finances
This one will come back to haunt you if you don’t do it before sharing space (and the bills that come with it). If you haven’t openly talked about finances, you’re not ready for this major relationship step. There are some things you should know about each other before you move in together.
- What kind of debt do they have?
- How much money do they make?
- What does their credit look like?
- Do they have a budget?
- Do you know their spending habits well?
- Will you join bank accounts or keep them separate?
- How will bills be paid — equally or by some other arrangement?
Does this seem nosy and none of your business? Then, it’s not time to move in together. If you share space with a significant other, you should know the answer to these questions before you end up with a partner who can’t quite pay their bills because they have so much debt and live so far outside their means.
#2 There’s an Ulterior Motive
Beware the ulterior motive. Users and abusers will love-bomb you and convince you that cohabitation will benefit you when the reality is that it will only benefit them. If your significant other is behind on rent, of course, they want to live with you in your paid-on-time house or apartment.
Abusive partners will also manipulate you into moving in with them before their true character is revealed. Part of this might be to foster your dependence on them and make it more difficult for you to separate if your lives are deeply intertwined. Look for ulterior motives that indicate cohabitation is more for them than it is for you and your relationship with them.
#3 You’re Experiencing Pressure to Make the Decision
Are they pressuring you to move in together when you don’t feel ready? That’s a red flag all its own. Cohabitating should be a mutual decision — a step you’re excited to take together.
Someone who is pressuring you into joining your households isn’t mature enough for cohabitation. It’s one thing to tell you that they would like to take this step and another to try to push you into it. For instance, if there’s a relationship ultimatum involved, it might be time to rethink the whole relationship dynamic rather than packing your boxes.
#4 You Haven’t Addressed How to Equitably Divide Household Tasks
Have you talked about who will do what if you live together? Have you broken down indoor and outdoor tasks in a way that feels equitable to everyone? If you haven’t, it’s just too soon to make a move.
This isn’t a comfortable conversation, but it is necessary. Do they feel like you should do all the housework because you work shorter hours, make less, or because of a factor like your gender? Yikes! No one should be doing all the housework. That’s not a division of labor at all.
If you can’t work this out where both of you agree, you’re not ready to live together. Period. End of discussion.
#5 You Don’t Fight Fair
If you can’t fight fair, you really don’t need to be living together. It’s important for couples to be healthy and communicate well. If your fights involved name-calling, raised voices, throwing things, or punching walls, you’re not mature enough to cohabitate quite yet.
When you learn to fight fair, you learn to be kind and respectful even when you’re angry or disappointed. You learn to directly address conflict and give your partner the benefit of the doubt. You don’t try to hurt them or use their vulnerability against them. You work together to find solutions for your problems. If you can’t fight fair, you shouldn’t be living together at all.
#6 One or Both of You Struggle with Active Addiction
Do one or both of you struggle with an untreated active addiction? While individuals in recovery are addressing their problems, people who are in denial or simply refuse to get help aren’t people you need to move in with — a harsh truth you may not want to face.
The addiction isn’t going to magically get better because you share households. In fact, it may make the non-addicted person’s life far more difficult than it was before. If there’s a problem with addiction in your relationship, it’s important to address it early on — and not to join households until you do.
#7 You Don’t Have Healthy Relationship Boundaries
Does your relationship involve togetherness and also healthy space? If you don’t have a balance of these factors, you don’t need to live together. Healthy relationship boundaries allow both people to have a separate identity as well as a shared couple one.
You know those couples who share a social media page and never do anything without the other person? That’s not cute. That’s toxic. It’s codependent. It’s not healthy.
You need to have good relationship boundaries to live with anyone. You need to be able to speak up and talk about when you need space or when you need support. You need a partner who respects how you feel and what you want. If you’re too enmeshed or too distant, it’s just not time to be moving in together.
#8 You Aren’t Being Yourself with Your Partner
Are you completely yourself with your partner, or are you still only showing the sunniest sides of your personality? If you aren’t being completely authentic, it’s too soon to move in together.
It’s hard to let other people see us when we’re a mess. You might not want to show your partner your bad hair day when all you do is lay around in sweats and eat cheese puffs. But that is part of who you are, too. If they only love you when you’re dressed up and being your happiest self, that’s not love. If you’ve only seen them at their best, you don’t really know them yet either.
Until you’re both honest, vulnerable, and authentic with each other, you’re not ready to even discuss joining households to live together. It’s too soon. Give the relationship time to develop and make sure you’re going to be compatible for at least the length of a lease.
#9 You Haven’t Met Each Other’s Friends and Family
Have you met their friends and family? Have they met yours? Even if you’re separated by distance, you can still make a video call and have an introduction. If you haven’t met each other’s support system, it’s too soon to move in together.
Like it or not, the people in our lives can often spot things we can’t when we’re in love. They can see personality factors that could be a problem down the road. Now, we might not always listen. Often, we learn the hard way. But the truth is that it’s important to make sure that our friends and family actually like the one we’re with — assuming we have healthy relationships with them.
If the healthy people in your life don’t like your partner, pay attention. Otherwise, they’re going to be biting their tongue on an I told you so in the days to come.
A Few Tips
If you went through this list and feel pretty good about moving forward with a cohabitation plan, here are a few tips.
#1 Put It in Writing
It may sound lame, but it could help to write down your plans. Outline who pays what and when, who does what chores and how often, and how you’re going to manage personal space and together time. Make sure this document is collaborative and has flexibility for changes as the two of you grow and change.
#2 See a Professional
If you really want your cohabitation to go smoothly, make an appointment to see a couples’ counselor. Talk about your plans and figure out how to move forward in a healthy way. You may even want to keep a counselor on call for future issues in the relationship. You may need a session a few months down the road when you figure out that she avoids laundry like the plague and your idea of cleaning the kitchen only includes loading the dishwasher.
#3 Discuss Your Financial Plans and Goals
Even if you keep separate accounts, you need to talk about your financial plans and goals. Do you have a plan to save for vacations you take together? Do you need any major purchases like furniture or appliances that will require a credit card or a savings plan? Talk this out in advance — long before you’re signing a lease together or moving your boxes.
#4 Slow Down and Enjoy the Journey
When you’re in that intense early stage of love, you may want to rush from one relationship level to the next. Learn the value of slowing down and appreciating where you are in life. If you aren’t ready to move in together, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy where the relationship is and where it’s going.
Figure out a way to be present in what’s actually happening, not in your vision of the future. Appreciate your partner today and don’t feel like there’s a timeline for taking future steps. Let it unfold and enjoy the journey without obsessing about the destination.
#5 Don’t Ignore the Red Flags
We all know that you’re going to do what you want regardless of what any relationship article tells you is the wisest course of action. I’ve been there. But take note: red flags you ignore now will come back to haunt you later.
If you notice your partner is a spendthrift who buys what they want before paying the bills, who’s going to cover the difference when you’re living together and rent needs to be paid? The truth is that you likely won’t bring them up to your superior financial standards. They may bring you down to theirs, dragging you into debt and the anxiety that comes with it. Ignore the red flags at your peril.
Should I, or Shouldn’t I?
If you’re asking yourself if it’s too soon, it probably is. Just the fact that you need to stop and ask could mean that you’re nursing some doubts. Air them out. If your relationship is healthy, your partner will be able to hold space for you to talk about your concerns without making you feel bad about them.
Maybe you talk out your concerns and it helps you feel ready. If so, enjoy the excitement that comes with planning to live with the one you love. Cohabitation can be a beautiful stage of life. Just go into it with your eyes open, not just your heart.
Originally published on The Truly Charming