Jen Smith shares her experience moving in with her boyfriend and what to consider before taking the leap
Moving in with my boyfriend was a HUGE decision but one that came surprisingly easy for the two of us. Alex and I have been dating over 7 years, with two small breaks in there. We’ve talked about living together for several years, but it never felt right so we always chose to wait.
I pride myself on my independence. Since I went through my quarter-life crisis a few years ago, I worked extremely hard to redefine myself by joining several organizations, making quality friends, and starting a new career path. I thought by living together I would lose my individuality, miss out on seeing my friends, and give up what I love doing most. I was surprisingly wrong.
Alex asked me to “live together” rather than “with him.” Many may not see a difference, but to me, it was an important distinction. To be comfortable moving in together, the act had to be done together and the decision about where to live had to be ours. We worked together to choose which furniture and decorations we were keeping so that our space was a blend of our personalities—for example, he got to keep his sports bobble head collection and me? I got to keep my owl collection.
I value a well-rounded life, and I was worried that by living with Alex, my life would be too focused on “home”… that I wouldn’t have enough time for friends or activities I love. Instead, we find a balance: on nights he’s out with the boys, I can choose to have a girls’ night, attend my favorite yoga class, or finish reading the latest book on my list.
Alex and I are big on communication and find that many conflicts can be avoided with a conversation, so we chose to talk about our concerns before living together. Since I’m a list-maker, I pulled together a list of things to discuss before taking the leap that might also be helpful for you to consider when you are ready to take this step in your relationship.
Consider WHY you want to live together.
Make sure you’re moving in because you want to take the next step. Don’t make it about convenience, saving money, or because one of your leases is up. It should be about where you and your significant other are now, both personally and in the relationship, and where you want to be in a few years. Also important: Don’t assume that because he asked you to move in, you’re automatically getting a ring; that needs to be discussed as well. (By the way, I told him it had to be within 2 years, but I think it’ll actually be much sooner!)
Discuss what is important to YOU.
Communicate what things that are important to your living space. For me, my bed has to be made daily. Thankfully, I am the last one out of bed most mornings, so it’s not a problem, but if I am gone first, Alex knows to make the bed. For you, perhaps it’s that clothing should never be on the floor, dirty dishes never on the counter, or even that you hate toothpaste stains in the sink.
Determine the apartment rules.
Consider discussing chores, a cleaning and cooking schedule, payment of rent and utilities, out-of-town guests, and late night visitors, just to name a few. You do this with every roommate you’ve ever had, so why wouldn’t you do the same with your significant other?
The discussion of money can make anyone uncomfortable, but in this situation it’s unavoidable; you’re making what many would consider a significant step in your relationship, and financial responsibility is key to being a better you. You should put a plan in place BEFORE you move in. How much can you realistically afford? Are you expected to pay 50-50? A quick talk about expectations can prevent any future issues of paying more than you can afford or any awkwardness about assumptions.
Start a joint calendar.
Google is great for this if you both have Gmail. It’s an easy tool for blocking out time together or seeing which nights you are doing your own things with your friends. It doesn’t take away having a conversation about your week, but it allows you to make plans without constantly checking with your significant other.
Fights are inevitable.
Every couple is different. Once you start living together, you may fight less or more (or about different things). Unfortunately, now you’re stuck at the same place. No one can go to their own place to cool off. Talk out what should happen if you do fight and need some time to calm down. Maybe it’s okay to have one person leave and go for a walk, or maybe you just want to be in separate rooms for a bit.
Choosing to live with Alex has been one of the best decisions I have made for myself. The choice strengthened our relationship, without diminishing our individuality (something I didn’t think could happen). I really look forward to seeing where this relationship goes.
Do you live with your significant other, or are you planning to? What else did you discuss (or wish you did) before you moved in together?
Jen Smith graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in Art History, is currently the Operations Manager at Beverly Hills Drink Company, and volunteers her time with several organizations.