Andrea is a freelance writer. She writes on topics from interior design, relationships, ghosts, to anything creative. Contact her for work.
It's hard to say when these things will happen — when you'll have your first kiss, when you'll fall in love, and when you'll feel comfortable enough to give a pair of keys to your boyfriend.
Despite all of the rules, spreadsheets, and graphs I could give you, each relationship is its own beast. Moving in together is becoming a natural part of a budding romance. Part of it is that people live spread out across cities, states, and the whole universe. It makes life easier when you don't have to travel from a beach to a cold mountain to someone you want to kiss.
So how do you know when it is the right time to move in together?
Speaking as a person who helps people with dating and relationships, you have to respect what you're doing first. Moving in together isn't something you do lightly. It's not what you do because you're financially insecure. You need to get your finances in order BEFORE you move in together. Not after the fact. Wait till you are in a serious, committed relationship. This needs to be someone you can communicate with about everything. You need to know if the two of you are going to share the same room or if you need separate rooms till marriage. Take about the rules, expectations, bills, and the like. If that doesn't sound like fun and where you are -- you have to accept that truth.
Both parties should feel this is natural and what they want. No one should be forcing the other to stay.
You may feel better about moving in with someone if you wait till you're a little older. If you don't want to move in till your married, discuss the reasons why and make it clear. What is marriage to you?
For me moving in came with ending a long distance setup. I was fortunate to get a good job and a large enough home that we could live comfortably together. He found a new job, slowly brought in his things, and communicated through the whole process. That is an ideal situation.
Moving in Is More Vulnerable
When you move in with someone, just a roommate, you can easily have secrets exposed. When you move in with someone romantically, you can't hide anything. You need to be open and honest. It helps to move in with your partner if you have had prior roommates. It may help if you wait till you're a little older. Moving in with someone at 18 is likely a recipe for a disaster, a train wreck, and an apocalypse all combined.
You know you're ready to move in with someone when you have lived by yourself and had independence -- and rocked at it. You're not afraid to pay bills, you take care of chores, you have hobbies, and you manage your health. You're ready to move in with someone when you have healthy expectations.
Signs You're Ready
- You're accepting of their faults. You're not going to make a big deal over something small. You're not going to make a scene just to make a scene.
- You're ready to move in with someone if you clean up after yourself. You're also ready if you help them with the small things they do that they forgot to clean. And you don't make a big deal about it.
- You've spent enough time with each other and have made it clear where you are going forward.
- You have at least talked about your thoughts on marriage.
- You're aware of how much stuff the other person has along with yours. Are you going to need to cull your stuff? Do you have a lot of similar items? Will you need a garage sale?
- You both have directions as to where you roughly want to go in life. Maybe he wants to pursue a medical career, maybe she wants to pursue something with art. You're at least on some kind of track, whether school, a job, something.
- You have met each other's families.
- You have discussed what kind of pets you want. You have discussed what kind of needs your current pets have.
- You have successfully and charismatically been through a terse conversation.
- You discuss your favorite chores and least favorite chores. You know what to expect around the house.
- Talk about things that absolutely do not work in a living situation.
- You have healthy communication. You two are open and talk about everything. You're not a couple with secrets.
- It's a natural process. The two of you already spend so much time together, that you kind of already live together.
- You're madly, deeply in love with each other. Besides all the practical things, the two of you know you want to spend your lives together. Now you're figuring out how to do so.
- You're not afraid to show each other the weirdest piece of clothing in your closet. You have a bonnet. And that's okay.
- The two of you have traveled on a long road trip, and you didn't break down into a crazy fight. Spend a vacation with each other. Lots of time together can show the real sides of people.
- You two talk about how you see the future, what you want to do with your life.
- You have discussed birth control options.
- You have discussed any health concerns you have.
- You have talked about your world views.
- You're at a point where you can be stable. You're out of college, you have a good job, and you can afford good rent.
- The two of you are happy together. You make each other laugh. You're there to support each other. You have seen each other cry. You know how to comfort each other. You have a strong relationship, not a weak one.
Pro Tips on Living Together
How clean is your partner? The two of you really need to focus on what the living situation will look like. Be upfront about what chores you like doing and what chores tend to get forgotten. You are a team and need to be adults about taking care of a home. Don't be afraid to call a maid or call for help if you are getting behind on yours chores after awhile. Your relationship is more of a priority. There are really good deals out there now for maids and groupon packages.
Do not become a home overlord. You both share the same spaces. A lot of fights will happen because you don't see eye to eye about simple things, which can sometimes be about bigger things. It doesn't matter what way the toilet paper rests, don't be picky about how the bed is made, and never get onto someone for actually cleaning something because it's not the way you would have done it.
It'll be nice to split the bills down the middle. Sometimes women get in charge of doing all the groceries, make sure men are still paying their fair share. Take her out to dinner, buy her gifts -- but try to spilt the housework and bills evenly.
If you feel like you have too much on your plate, start de-cluttering your home and that will make you feel better. A clean home can really be a positive boost to your relationship.
Always be looking for better ways to communicate your stress. Stress management is ideal for keeping the both of you happy and healthy. Do not nag, belittle, or go off on tangents out of anger. Look for the most rationale and sound ways to live, and avoid destructive habits.
Rocking Living Together
You don't just want to live in the same place together, you want to rock at living together. Here are some ways to make an ordinary situation into an ideal one.
- Buy gifts for your partner with some frequency. Have a hidden spot where you stowaway gifts so you can bring one out on a rainy day. People like surprise gifts that are meaningful.
- De-clutter. Donate old items you have that you don't need or use anymore. Upgrade items that have aged poorly. Don't be afraid to let go of items for new items. Some items do not need replacements.
- Pay your bills online. This should be common sense at this point, but anything you can do to limit the amount of paper mail you get is just an overall win.
- Learn how to cook. You'll save more money by relying on groceries. You can start learning how to cook from YouTube or Allrecipes.com. Baking an item once a month to have something sweet keeps a home happy.
- Have a shared hobby you can spend time doing.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes a day. This will keep your body and mind fresh. Even better if the two of you can find a shared exercise activity that you like.
- If someone keeps having the same problem, don't belittle them. Find a way to better navigate the issue. Don't just write them off over something small. Be supportive.
- Try having a consistent schedule for when you go to bed. Your health will improve for both you and your relationship when you are getting enough sleep. Your body will be happy with a consistent schedule. This can help reduce anxiety.
- Let people have their space and alone time. There is a certain amount of distance necessary for balance. It's kind of like eyebrows; they are better with space.
- Don't be afraid of a no or a yes. Things are not always going to go your way, and that's selfish anyway. You want to serve your partner to the best of your abilities.
Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on January 05, 2018:
There's a saying here that probably crossed the Pond in the 'Mayflower', "If you want to know how the wife will turn out, look at her mother". Sometimes it ain't that accurate though, the mother-in-law was more easy-going. The previous one was an arch-meddler - what's the next one like, I wonder?
Andrea Lawrence (author) from Chicago on January 04, 2018:
I strongly suggest if possible to meet their family. It's a milestone that should take place in dating so you can get an idea of people connected to them, their past, and it can be a strong emotional boost. Some people are not as connected to their families as others. As for dating milestones, it makes sense to meet their families (especially if they are not that far away) before you move in -- because you probably don't know them well enough if you haven't met their family or at least people close to them.
Andrea Lawrence (author) from Chicago on January 04, 2018:
I really enjoy this comment more than you could know. It sounds like you have a lovely marriage, and know about some of the dirty elbow grease moments. There is something endearing about the arguments and scuffles over kitchen preferences.
LimeyFeline on December 21, 2017:
Just curious, why is "meeting each others families" a requirement to move in with each other? That shouldn't really be an issue. Everything else is reasonable and well thought out, though.
Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on December 21, 2017:
Never mind about 'the chores you like to do". There are jobs around a common home that need to be done, and they might be dirty jobs like clearing out accumulated mess from a drain,
doing hard jobs that involve a fair bit of 'elbow grease' (anyone told you how to clean up an old bolt before you can unscrew it to replace it?) There are jobs she might detest, like cleaning dishes that you've left greasy food on and stubbed-out cigarettes littered around bacon rind and dried-on yolks after you've overdone your fried eggs.
Yep, it sounds idyllic if she's never paid a visit to your home. Likewise you might object to walking into hanging tights in the bathroom - swings and roundabouts, eh?
You're right, Mr Lawrence, matey. it helps to do the 'homework', look before you leap and all that.
Me? I've been married 36 years and I'm master of the kitchen sink, the strimmer, the hedge cutter and I'm the chauffeur/'bus' driver' ("Can we be at the cafe for such and such a time? I need to be back for....time"; "Can we be at ... to pick up so and so?")
Andrea Lawrence (author) from Chicago on December 21, 2017:
Thank you! It's always nice to hear from you, Larry!
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on December 21, 2017: