Who doesn’t love splitting bills and Netflixing with their boo every night? Still, before signing on the dotted line, consider these tips from experts about living with your partner in crime.
Maybe you’re very over your long-distance relationship’s grueling commute, and soaring rent prices, or maybe you’re just crazy in love. Moving in together is a big deal regardless of which boxes you check here.
Check out these 12 tips from relationship experts to see if you’re making the right move (pun intended).
Tracy Dalgleish is a clinical psychologist and relationship expert based in Ontario, Canada. Before diving into our tips, we asked Dalgleish about what moving in together means in a relationship, and we think we should mention her thoughts on this first.
“This would be a great question to ask each other in terms of identifying the direction and commitment of the relationship, with the willingness to be honest and forthcoming in this conversation,” Dalgleish says. “For some, it means a long-term commitment. For others, it may not. Don’t assume that just because moving in together is a meaningful commitment to you means the same thing for your partner.”
Are you moving in together because you’re in a solid place with someone you’ve been dating regularly and practically already living together with? Those are good “whys” in our book.
Or are you so excited about your new relationship that you just want to be around them all the time? We get it, we love love too. But… you may want to take a look at your calendar. Has it been at least six months since you started dating? Some experts say six months should be good, while others say a year is best.
Dalgleish says there is no right or wrong answer to this, as it will depend on each individual and the relationship they have together.
When considering how long before you move in together, Dalgleish says it can be helpful to think of relationships as shifting through different stages and seasons.
“The first stage, the honeymoon stage (limerance stage), being in the first six months, is where relationships often feel the most at ease and effortless,” she says. “Keep in mind that this first stage is not a representation of the entire relationship, and therefore it can be helpful for partners to take more time to explore each other and the relationship.”
Bummer, we know.
“Most people will wait until after a year of being together, or even up to two years, as couples will start to deepen their relationship and feel more ready to take the next step,” she says.
Dalgleish points out this greatly depends on age, life stage, and relationship.
“Having open and honest conversations is key to being ready to take the next step,” Dalgleish adds.
While we hate to be the bearer of bad news, we think you should consider these red flags from Toronto-based psychotherapist Delia Petrescu, MA, RP (Q):
- your relationship is brand new
- you have major unresolved conflicts (e.g. someone cheated and someone hasn’t healed yet)
- you’re attempting to avoid a breakup by moving in together (this isn’t a sound solution)
- one of you has financial dependence
- one of you feels a lack of personal space already
- the decision is one-sided (strong-arming your partner into moving in together can backfire and is overall, not healthy)
We don’t talk enough about green flags, which are good little signs worth getting excited about.
Petrescu says some green flags that signal you may be ready to move in together are:
You probably wouldn’t buy a new car without driving it. So, you probably shouldn’t sign a lease without spending some consecutive days living with your partner first.
While sleepovers are obvs fun, make sure you add in the most accurate representation of living together as possible, not just popcorn and PJs sessions but proper day-to-day vibes.
We know. This one can feel brutal, especially in a new relationship. Discussing money isn’t exactly sexy, but knowing each other’s expectations and setting boundaries can not only potentially save your relationship, but it can save your time if you decide you can’t get on the same page with finances.
“Money is a significant source of conflict among couples,” says Rachel Sommer, Ph.D., a clinical sexologist. “So, ensure you sort the budget and finances as soon as possible to avoid disagreements and grievances in the relationship. Start by discussing how much each can contribute financially and draft a budget that works for everyone.”
Maybe you don’t mind sweeping the floors, but your fingers are crossed that your partner will take out the trash. These are great things to discuss before resentment has any chance to brew. You don’t want to feel your blood boiling as your partner conveniently strolls by as dishes pile up.
If you want to get real nerdy with it, throw up weekly chores on a dry-erase board so no one “forgets” to do their part.
Hopefully, you know your partner’s communication style and habits by now, but some things don’t come out until you move in. If you know that you’re someone who needs some space after a conflict but that they like to talk it out right away, you will want to have a plan for resolving conflicts, large or small, despite your communication styles.
Petrescu encourages couples to develop conflict resolution strategies. “Conflicts are likely to arise when you live together. Remember to address issues as they arise rather than letting them build up,” she says.
Does your partner rise with the sun while you prefer to snooze as late as possible? Sleep is a big deal; it’s essential for mental health and physical well-being too. If you haven’t already, learn about each other’s alarms and even how they wind down at night. Do you prefer peaceful reading sessions while they like to crank up the TV? You’ll want to know.
Dalgleish encourages couples to see if their values are aligned. Ask yourself, “Is what is meaningful to you also meaningful to my partner?” Be sure to talk about big picture goals like kids, marriage, financial planning, career aspirations, and where you want to live.
“If you are moving in with someone, but you don’t know if they want to have kids (and you do want to have kids), it’s a good sign to step back and have these bigger conversations.”
Dalgleish reminds us that we must intentionally schedule time together and apart.
“Relationships need intentionality, curiosity, and exploration together,” she says.
It’s easy to assume your alone time will happen naturally or that you’ll definitely keep date nights on the books, but these vital things can slip through the cracks once you merge your lives together.
“Living together can sometimes make the relationship feel more like a routine,” Petrescu says. “Make sure to keep dating each other, have special nights, express love and appreciation, and keep the emotional connection strong.”
Keeping your connection to yourself, your interests, and your hobbies is *very* important too.
“Moving in together shouldn’t mean losing your individual interests,” Dalgleish says. “Instead, it will mean more intentionality toward both the self and the relationship.”
What does scheduling time apart look like?
“Plan to schedule intentional time together — when you are not on your phones or numbing out in front of the TV, but instead finding ways to nurture your relationship,” she says.
Experiences are key to any fulfilling relationships.
“It doesn’t mean a get-away weekend every month, but instead the planning of a new recipe, learning a new game together, taking a different hiking trail, or trying a new restaurant together. You can explore with your partner how you can both continue to put effort into the relationship to avoid becoming roommates.”
This one may sound silly but think of it like routine maintenance for your relationship and new living situation.
“Plan a weekly check-in with each other, including sharing what each of you is appreciative and grateful for in the other person,” Dalgleish says.
She says that while these types of conversations tend to flow naturally early on in the honeymoon stage now, you’ll want to continue to be intentional with this feedback — both positive and helpful feedback.
“Ask each other what is going well and what isn’t,” she says. “These early conversations set the path for tackling harder things later in the relationship.”
Not to put a cold touch on things, but what’s your exit strategy? Let’s say things go south, do you have a breakup plan? Who will stay, and who will go? How will finances look for you at that point? Having a plan in place can give you peace of mind, which can make your transition smoother.
Remember moving in together will require an adjustment period overall, but it’s also good to know you’ll be okay if your partner doesn’t end up being your *forever* partner.
Of course, you can also consider couple’s therapy if you run into any snags you think can be worked out before breaking a lease. And remember, since you’ll be keeping your personal hobbies and interests the whole time you’re living with your partner, you’ll be even more okay being solo for a while.
Moving in together is a big deal. Any nerves or hesitation are totally understandable and valid. Having uncomfortable conversations and plans in place for the big things (money, responsibilities, chores, conflicts, you name it) can make the transition smoother. Remember to schedule time for yourself and intentional time together to keep your flame burning.