At some point in nearly every long-term relationship, the idea of moving in together starts to become more and more appealing. After all, you already have a stash of your things at your SO’s place, and you spend most of your free time together anyway. Why not just shack up already? But there are some serious questions to ask your partner before moving in together. Because you don’t want to sign a new lease only to discover a week later that you and your SO have completely incompatible views about finances, marriage, or what moving in together really means for each of you.
There are many things to discuss with your partner that go well beyond whether your tastes in interior decor can blend together well (although that may be important too!). Big-picture discussions about your finances, future plans, and communication skills will help you both make sure you’re on the same page well before the first moving truck shows up. And it’s a good idea to iron out the seemingly inconsequential details as well. For instance, the dishes that you leave in the sink overnight might give your neatnik partner heart palpitations. Talking it all out, and covering everything from financial goals to chore divisions can ensure you both have the chance to make a harmonious home together.
1. Is This A Step Toward Marriage?
Do you consider living together a trial run for marriage, or a way to avoid walking down the aisle altogether? As Jennifer Twardowski wrote on Huffington Post, "having regular, open communication about [marriage] is going to be helpful in keeping one another's thoughts and feelings out in the open and avoid any hidden inner resentments getting built up." This is definitely one of those cases where assumptions may cause both of you a lot of harm.
2. Will We Still Go On Regular Dates?
It sounds strange, but all the time you're spending together may not count as quality time. "Now, more than ever, you’ll need to create time to connect outside the home," therapist Anne Barker told Refinery 29. You can keep enjoying date nights while living together.
3. How Will We Address Finances?
Now is the time for the serious money talk. "A big spender moving in with someone frugal could be a recipe for disaster," Donna Fuscaldo noted on Investopedia. You and your SO should be able to come clean about your spending habits, debt, and credit scores.
4. How Important Is Cleanliness To You?
Even the most chill partner may get surprisingly anal retentive about the proper way to load silverware in a dishwasher. "Know where you are on the Kinsey scale of clean, otherwise you'll be miserable," Rose Surnow wrote on Cosmopolitan. Figuring out a way to divide the chore load that works for both of you is also a crucial step toward a happy shared home.
5. Will We Still Get Alone Time?
Being attached at the hip 24/7 will only drive you both bonkers. As psychiatrist Reef Karim told Today, "it's healthier if you both have friends or activities that allow you to express yourself once in a while, separate from your relationship." Sometimes absence does make the heart grow fonder.
6. Do We Argue Effectively?
Do your arguments end in useful compromises or just a bunch of broken dishes? "A couple that is bad at handling conflict quickly, repairing injuries or bad feelings promptly, or that isn’t interested in putting the relationship first over self interests is also likely to get into trouble sooner than later,” couples therapist Dr. Stan Tatkin told Self. Being able to fight fairly will make living together much more pleasant.
7. Can We Negotiate On Basic Things?
If you and your partner can discuss your plans openly and honestly, then you're probably in a good position to move in together. "If you have concerns about cleanliness, chores, general upkeep, or even who's welcome when you're not there, you'd better talk now," psychologist Craig Malkin told Psychology Today "If you're afraid this will create tension, then think twice about living together." Open communication now can help you avoid unpleasant surprises once you've moved in.
8. Do You Feel Like This Is A Healthy Relationship?
This is the time when some conversations need to get pretty real. "Do they make you feel good about yourself and are you happier since you met them?" asked Tracey Cox of the Daily Mail. She lists this question as one that couples must answer affirmatively before considering cohabitation.
9. How Would We Handle An Unplanned Pregnancy?
Having a contingency plan for a surprise pregnancy is critical. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly one in five women experienced a pregnancy in the first year of cohabitation from 2006 to 2010. Getting on the same page when it comes to birth control and your family plans can only help you both.
10. How Should We Address Income Disparity?
It's unlikely that you and your partner have identical incomes. "Establish a percent divide that you are each comfortable with based on compared income," Mint.com spokeswoman Holly Perez told Elite Daily. If your partner's take-home pay is about half of your income, then getting your SO to chip in for a third of the rent, for instance, might be fair to you both.
11. Are We Doing This Out Of Convenience?
Are you moving in because you're trying to strengthen your relationship, or just because you'd like somebody to help split the cable bill? Psychologist Terri Orbuch advised against this practice in Psych Central. “You should not say to yourself I’m going to find out ____ by living together," he said. Treating cohabitation like a serious commitment, instead of a test for the relationship, might be a more positive approach.