Moving in with a girlfriend is one of the crucial steps in every relationship. It can make it better and stronger, but it can also break it. You may love each other to the moon and back, but it is important not to rush shacking up together. Some things have to be discussed and settled beforehand, both in your own mind and between the two of you. The sooner you clear those issues, the better your time together will be.
Your relationship has now lasted for a bit, and everything seems perfect. And why shouldn’t it? You have a great time together, enjoy each other’s company, and you can’t have enough of her. So the logical next step is to get a place together, right?
It could be, but before you bring that up over a glass of wine, you might take a step back and think things through a bit. It may not seem so, but moving in together for the wrong reasons can quickly turn into a disaster. So take your time, preferably before she decides that there was enough dating and makes her move. When you choose to finally do it, pick up the phone and call movers to help you with the relocation.
Here are some other issues that are bound to come up right before you move in with your significant other, as well as a few tips on how to overcome those problems.
Getting a place together is a big thing. It often puts significant limits on your freedom and independence. Therefore, it’s important to be clear with yourself about whether you are ready for this step. And there is a great question of the future course of the relationship.
While you may see moving in together simply as an issue of expediency, she might see it as another stepping stone towards marriage. A big thing to think about, but still a necessary one. Before you even think about hiring packing services to handle your belongings, talk through all of your expectations and desires.
Whether we like it or not, paying for utilities is part of everyday life. Living together is a sure way to ease that financial burden. That being said, it’s not a good idea to tell your loved one that this is the reason why you should live together. Yet, it will arise by itself quite soon, so it is important to decide how you and your partner will share the costs. Any agreement that both of you can keep to, be that dividing the bills or setting a joint bank account for that purpose, will make your life better and without tensions. At least when it comes to everyday spending.
People say that there are two tests that all couples must pass before deciding to shack up – a big fight and a trip together. In a way, an argument may release words that you (and her) kept to yourself for a good reason. She absolutely doesn’t need to hear all your thoughts on her spending habits, or on her friends or family. Maybe even herself. If you two can move on after that as if nothing had happened or even become stronger together, the test is passed.
Traveling together is another important milestone because it’s, in a way, the exercise of living together. Yes, it’s still mostly all fun and games, but you also have to spend entire days with each other, be it in a room or around the city. You’ve managed that without screaming at one another? Congratulations, test passed.
Assuming that you are absolutely confident about making this life-changing step, the next thing to decide is where to live.
If one or both of you have flats, simply moving in together may be the easiest (and not to mention the cheapest) solution. However, it may not prove to be the best option. It is very likely that whoever moves in will not feel “at home.” Bringing one’s stuff and finding a place for them among already neatly packed and stacked belongings may indeed seem like pushing into a partner’s life a little bit too much. Feeling as a guest is not a good way to start a life together.
On the other hand, getting a new home together might give both of you a sense of true fresh start and an entirely new chapter in your love story. When thinking about how to move, try building your own nest from scratch, instead of adapting the already existing one. It can be fulfilling and bring you closer together.
Should you and your girlfriend decide that you want a new place for yourselves, you’ll be immediately faced with another choice – to lease or to buy. It’s crucial that you have an honest talk before rushing into anything.
How much do you earn? Do you have debts that were not revealed before? How much are you willing and able to invest in real estate? Money problems can create hell for couples even more than for individuals, so beware of stretching out too thin with a mortgage that would leave you dry.
If something is rare, that would be a couple of people in a romantic relationship who haven’t fought about stuff that one of them considers vital while the other thinks of it as useless junk. That mostly goes for small trinkets of personal and sentimental importance, but it can be translated into a larger issue related to basically anything in the house.
You may enjoy cramped space filled with furniture while she is happy with a futon, one closet, and a laptop. By all means, hold your ground for really important (and of course, valuable) items. Mint Darth Vader action figure from 1978 checks both of those boxes, but is a collection of beer bottle caps that important? You’re right, it most certainly is not. If you don’t want to get rid of all of your things, choose to put them in storage.
Setting up a man cave surely is fulfilling and easy to do. Setting up a home is equally satisfying, but a lot harder. For starters, leaving filthy socks all around, filling the table with empty plates or spending days on the couch watching sports or playing video games in your underwear will most likely be out of the question. Also, you may forget the ultimate sin of leaving the toilet seat up. All that might pass with your significant other (though grudgingly in all probability) while you were dating but no longer after you move in together. Your new home will have to be kept in order, and after a while, you may find out that it is better that way.
Housework is endless work, no reason to deny it. It is boring and time-consuming. Still, it has to be done, and there is no better way to do it than together. You don’t fancy cleaning the toilet? You can bet she doesn’t either. So negotiate. You may end up taking out the trash, but at least you dodged the bullet in the form of cleaning her crystal glasses.
And when all is mopped up, washed, cleaned, and set in its place, you two can return to the more enjoyable activities that being together all the time may bring.
Dating is, in many ways, perfect. Since you two don’t spend every waking moment together, you can choose just how to show and present yourself. Cherished, but to others, annoying habits can safely be left in the privacy of a single man’s flat to wait for your return from a date with the special one. For her, after all, you have to shine. Well, that will be gone too.
The first days and months of living together may seem like being with a completely different person. As all masks and pretenses eventually fall, you may learn some unwanted secrets. Maybe she actually enjoys onions in every single dish. Or, after all, she thinks that your all-time favorite movie is crap, and that book quote that you base your existence on is nonsense. It may well be the case, but if that turns out to be a deal-breaker, your relationship wasn’t that strong, to begin with. And you certainly haven’t told her about every DVD in your flat or stated opinion about one of her best friends. That annoying one, of course.
Discovering previously unknown sides of your girl can be a bit intimidating. Yet, like everything else, it may be made much less so via talking. Some stuff is secret for a while for a reason, but most of it is not. She doesn’t need to know that your ex lives three doors down from you from your first date, but she should hear about that eventually, preferably from you. Honesty may just save you from the tenth watching of her favorite rom-com. Or it may give you yet another test fight, so fingers crossed.
Living together means that you have to think of her when planning everyday activities, not just yourself. However, that doesn’t mean losing yourself in a relationship. Keep your friends close, though you might want to keep those she doesn’t like out of her sight. Also, hang on to your hobbies, and let her enjoy hers. And if you are able to turn some part of your home into sort of an aforementioned man cave, so much the better. Your privacy, and hers too, is still important. A man may simply like to knit alone, you know.
When you move into your new place, everything tends to become a routine after a while, and it may seem that the spark is gone. So don’t let it go away. Sharing space doesn’t mean that you have to stop dating. Decide on a day of the week that will be your date night, no matter what, and stick to it. Restaurant, bar, or dining room table, what matters is you two, and the atmosphere that reminds you why it’s worth all the sacrifices.
And since you certainly aren’t the only couple in your circle, double dates are a great way to catch up with people all the while avoiding anyone being the third wheel.
Every couple has its problems. And pretending they don’t exist only makes them worse. Speak with your significant other, tell her what troubles you. May that be a lack of space for yourself or her behavior in some other part of your shared coexistence. Maybe it will help, and maybe it will not, but you can be a hundred percent sure that nothing will change unless you ask for it to change.
Compromise is a cornerstone of every successful relationship. There is absolutely no way around that simple fact. Remember how easy it was to decide what to do while dating? No reason not to carry that along to your new home. Living together just makes the need for it more often. Be it about chores, who watches what on TV and when, or anything else, you’ll have to figure it out. But always keep in mind that love will make it all easier and that if you both want it to work, it will work.
We’ll finish as we started – shacking up with your significant other is an enormous step, not to be taken lightly because it changes both of your lives in a number of ways. You’ll be spending much more time with each other (unless you have already been living together, only it wasn’t “formalized”). Some habits will have to change. So before you organize friends to help you or call moving services, be sure of your mutual feelings and willingness to compromise. As the old saying goes, love conquers all, but nobody said that it conquered all alone.