Now that the world is slowly starting to turn again, it might be safe to resume thinking about the next phases of our lives. Like, if the pandemic put your wedding on pause for a while, you may be starting to look into microweddings or other alternatives. Similarly, if coronavirus f*cked up your plans to move in with your S.O., now that spring has come and gone, it may be time to start thinking about that again (just be warned that working from home with them for months on end might result in a literal crime scene). It’s exciting to be able to take those big steps with your S.O., but before you take the plunge, there are a few things to think about, especially when it comes to cohabitation. We spoke with Leslie Montanile, an N.Y.C-based divorce attorney, to discuss how to successfully move in with your S.O. and the many benefits of living together before saying “I do.”
When you move in with your S.O. before you tie the knot, you get to know all of their daily habits and quirks, which is a huge bonus when preparing for newlywed life, according to Montanile. While you might think that your partner is crushing #adulting prior to moving in together, you may quickly find out that Brad isn’t actually the neat freak you thought he was, but was just shoving his dirty laundry in the closet before you came over. However, says Montanile, “the good news is that you can find a middle ground by blending your differences so that both of you are comfortable in your new arrangement, making adjustments before taking that trip down the aisle.” Just like you learned in kindergarten, sometimes you have to compromise.
Although moving in together can bring couples closer, don’t expect it to be all sunshine and rainbows from the moment you move in. Most couples will likely argue during the adjustment phase, especially when it comes to personal space and living habits. Since friction is totally natural when you and your partner have differences about, like, the A.C. temperature, Montanile suggests finding “a solution to your differences that are creating friction in the first place.” This can actually be super healthy for your relationship, Montanile says, since “You can be secure knowing that arguments during the adjustment period do not mean you are not compatible—in fact, it means you care enough about your partner to express your frustration or discontent at the moment and are not afraid to show how you are feeling.” Eventually, your lifestyles will meld together, and you can get back to your mushy couple stuff (gag).
Come As You Are
Initially, giving up your personal space and private time can make you especially pissy towards your partner—being hypercritical, starting fights about what you should order for dinner, sh*t like that—or it can even make you question the entire decision to move in together. Before you commit to living together, Montanile advises sitting down “to discuss what is important to you to keep as part of your new life together. Whether it is a weekly date with your friends, yoga, cooking class, golfing on the weekend, etc., these are the activities that made you and your partner happy before moving in together and should not suddenly cease.” After all, no one wants to be that girl whose only personality trait is being Josh’s girlfriend. Since you fell in love with your partner as a unique individual, “maintaining some of that individuality keeps your romance alive,” Montanile explains.
Making Money Moves
Talking about money can be awkward, but it’s necessary to discuss when moving in with your S.O. When you began dating, you might have followed a set spending pattern, like taking turns paying for dates or having the partner with the higher salary treating the other, but there are even more financial factors to consider when combining households. Montanile advises couples to “discuss their budgets and spending habits before moving in with each other so that there are no surprises.” While it’s not the sexiest conversation, “Deciding how you will handle the newly joint expenses upfront will take the stress off the relationship right from the start to concentrate on the fun new adventure of living with the one you love.” For example, you could both agree on a bill-splitting app to use or create a shared spreadsheet to track expenses, then you can move on to the fun stuff, like attempting to put your IKEA bookshelf together.
Happily Ever After
While you may want to jump straight into wedding planning the minute you’ve posted your “He put a ring on it!” Instagram, there are literally so many perks to living together first. After all, remarks Montanile, “it is a big deal to move in with someone no matter how much you love them and want to be with them.” Basically, it’s like getting to know each other all over again, except in an up-close way and in your shared space, instead of over Tinder. So, it’s not uncommon for your S.O. to act a little differently after move-in day, Montanile says. “Perhaps you find that your partner is quieter than usual—realize that when you are with someone all the time, you will learn that they are not always ‘on’ as if you were dating. Everyone has downtime or up time that you do not see when you are not living together.” You shouldn’t worry too much, though, because your partner is prob just adjusting to not having their own space anymore, which can cause them to behave a little differently until they become comfortable in your new, combined abode. At the end of the day, all of the ~struggles~ of moving in together are so worth it, since they’re all part of creating a grown-up, happy, and lifelong relationship.
For more insight on love and law, visit Leslie Montanile’s website.
Images: Cottonbro / Pexels; Giphy (2)
Moving in together is a pretty tantalizing carrot, especially in this economy: splitting rent, sharing groceries, plus easier access to your boyfriend’s adorable rescue dog who now takes up 75% of your Instagram? Seems like an easy play to call. And when a relationship is at the super fun, easy, tons-of-sex phase in the beginning, it can be tempting to consider.
You’ve been together long enough that he’s met your friends and stays the night on the reg, but it’s still fun to say “and my boyfriend will have a latte” to the barista. When you get butterflies just watching him screw in that one lightbulb in your closet that’s been out since 2012, it’s fun to mentally toss around the idea of making your life into an actual rom-com and taking a big step together. After all, there’s basically nothing you enjoy more right now than being naked together for two days at a time, eating macaroni and cheese in bed, and leaving the house as little as possible unless it’s to go to brunch with your friends and talk about how funny he is while they roll their eyes at you. But living together is a whole different world. It’s not like the sleepovers you’re having now, where you guys have sex multiple times in a weekend and shower together so you don’t have to spend even 10 minutes apart. So before you start looking at paint swatches to jazz up your shared bedroom, look out for the signs you should keep enjoying each other’s sex drive company and punt the “Moving In Talk” to a later time.
You’ve Never Gone Through A Big Illness Together
A v relevant point right now: You know what will make someone stop loving you? Seeing (and smelling) you with the stomach flu in a one-bathroom apartment. Simultaneous food poisoning in a one-bathroom apartment. The fact that if one of you is sick, the other one will probably be on the same train soon because you can’t get away from each other and he’s been coughing all night after he “accidentally” used your toothbrush yesterday. If the thought of having to ask him to pass you a new roll of toilet paper when you’re stuck in the bathroom after all-you-can-eat sushi still makes you blush, you ain’t ready to shack up.
You Haven’t Seen How They Deal With Basic Chores
Are you a hardcore laundry purist? The fact that he leaves his unfolded shirts on top of the dryer may scar you if you aren’t prepared. Living together involves sharing a bunch of household responsibilities like taking out the garbage, doing the dishes, and basic cleaning—none of which are sexy. It’s hard enough to coordinate chores with a regular roommate, let alone your new boyfriend. Nothing kills the mood on date night like an argument about whose turn it really was to scrub out the bathroom sink.
You Haven’t Let Him See You Without Makeup On
You don’t always have a full face on anymore, but in general, you’re still wearing tinted moisturizer and mascara even when you’re just chillin’. (There’s a good chance he’s still getting the lacy bras, too.) You’re still in that phase where you’re trying to make a good impression, like, all the time. Moving in together means that unless you want to sleep with your fake eyelashes on and wake up like Betty Draper in a matching silk pajama set, he’s going to see you with your retainer in and your night cream on. Hot.
You’re Still In The Eating Out Phase
Not the sex thing, which as far as I’m concerned, should not be a phase. I mean you’re still mostly hitting up happy hours and restaurants and you have yet to hit the hangry stage together after work when you’re staring at a fridge containing nothing but expired ravioli and wilted lettuce. Weeknight dinners at home are all about chicken breasts and tossing together some kind of bowl based on whatever leftovers you still have sitting there. Maybe you’ve had a laid-back dinner at your place a time or two, but chances are at least one of those occasions was takeout, and that’s still not the same as your typical night alone when you’re eating cold pizza that’s been in the fridge since last week.
You Have No Idea What His Money Situation Is Actually Like
A huge prerequisite for deciding to move in together is knowing where each other stands financially. It can be awkward to talk about, but it’s better than you moving in and him springing on you that he never turns the A/C on, ever, because he can’t afford to do that while paying off his massive student loans. No shame, but def something you want to know before you pack up the UHaul. You might not be in a place where you’re ready to discuss things like how much you actually spend on wine per month or how you’ll split up rent when he’s still being cute and covering the whole dinner check every time you go out.
If nothing else, consider this: the beginning of a relationship is magical. Everything in that first six months is fun and exciting. It’s all brand new. It’s a time for compliments, annoying PDA, and feeling superior to all of your single friends. Hey, don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back—finding love is hard, even if all you really know so far is that he gives great head and prefers his scrambled eggs slightly burnt, which you find adorable because you’ve known him for three months. The point is that you should savor that while you can.
Assuming you do stay together, there will be tons of time to do all the boring stuff that comes with living together. Soon enough, you’ll be sharing a closet and he’ll be complaining that he doesn’t want to spend another evening watching Gilmore Girls reruns. As time goes on, you become more comfortable and therefore more honest with each other. That might sound boring, but it’s not. It makes your connection stronger, more dependable, and better able to weather storms and make it out the other side during very serious events (like when the dog throws up all over your duvet in the middle of the night). And then, later on down the road when you’ve sorted out your laundry differences and he’s finally figured out how to load your dishwasher correctly, maybe moving in will be back on the table. If you still think he’s cute in nothing but gym socks and one of your too-small pajama shirts that he tugged on to deal with the duvet crisis while somehow forgetting his pants, that’s your sign. That’s when you know you’re ready. Until then, you might as well enjoy that new-boyfriend glow, and having your own bathroom, while you can.
Images: Toa Heftiba/Unsplash
When I first started giving dating advice, I was in a new relationship and truly thought I was the sh*t. I was confidently calling out red flags and commenting “DUMP HIM HONEY!!!” on every r/relationships thread I could find. If everyone else’s boyfriends weren’t as good as mine, I figured, they shouldn’t settle for less. Two years later, I still kind of feel that way—but I’ve also come to understand a whole new world of relationship problems (especially once you move in together) that I’d been too quick to dismiss as dealbreakers before.
Mostly, this is due to the fact that I’ve been living with my boyfriend for nine months, a development that often leads to fights I couldn’t have imagined myself having two years ago. Last week alone, I fought with my boyfriend about both our WiFi password and how we store our towels. It’s nuts. We’re also closer than ever (thanks for asking), and I can honestly say I have a better understanding of what it takes to make a relationship work long-term. So basically, this is all to say: now that my advice is even more flawless than it was before, here’s a rundown of the warning signs you shouldn’t ignore if you’re thinking about moving in together.
He Doesn’t Remember Things You Tell Him
This is the number one most important thing in a roommate. They need to be conscientious and reliable—if you ask them to take care of something in the apartment, they have to remember it. For the sake of your sanity, they also have to remember it without you reminding them 6-8 more times. If your boyfriend is the kind of guy who conveniently “forgets” every time you ask him to do something more than five seconds into the future, or every time you have a conversation about behavior of his that bothers you, he is going to be a sh*tty roommate. Frankly, it sounds like he’s a sh*tty boyfriend too. But this is a trait that could be a mild annoyance in a boyfriend, but it becomes a major, non-negotiable issue when you’re sharing a living space.
He Doesn’t Like Your Friends
He doesn’t have to be best friends with your friends—sadly, that only seems to happen on Vanderpump Rules. But if he’s said to your face that he doesn’t like your friends, acts unpleasant around them, or discourages you from hanging out with them, those are all major red flags. It’s fine for him to have an opinion (kind of), but he shouldn’t think that opinion entitles him to exert control over your social life. For one, he shouldn’t be rude enough to insult people you like, but the key issue here is that he should not be showing classic signs of manipulation, and testing the limits of how much you’ll cut out your friends to preserve the relationship. You cannot move in with a guy like that, or his efforts to isolate you will only scale up. Honestly, just break up now if you are seeing those signs.
You Can’t Pee In Front Of Him
I want to clarify that it’s perfectly okay, even 10 years into your relationship, to be the kind of person who always prefers a closed bathroom door. I am largely in that school of thought myself. What’s a dealbreaker, in this case, is if you felt you couldn’t pee in front of your boyfriend, even in some sort of fictional scenario where you’re trapped in the woods and waiting for a circling bear to leave. If the idea of your boyfriend seeing or hearing you pee makes your skin crawl, or makes you genuinely worry about how it would affect the state of the relationship, please don’t move in together. Certainly, don’t move in together in NYC, where the average square footage of available real estate will ensure that your boyfriend hears you pee every single day. But even if you’re rich (or Midwestern), know that moving in with someone will erase some boundaries you have now. You will have less privacy than ever before, and feel incredibly naked and incredibly seen by your boyfriend.
So, if he’s a guy who has some weird obsession with “keeping the mystery alive,” or would otherwise make you feel uncomfortable for doing something human in front of him—don’t do it. You will do something human, embarrassing, and never-before-seen in your relationship within the first month of living together. If you know your relationship won’t survive it, that’s your answer.
He Refuses To Talk About Money
Yes, this is on every list about moving in together, but that’s because it is the most important. To be clear, I don’t care whether your boyfriend has been paying for your entire lifestyle and is offering to do the same with an apartment—that’s equally, if not more of, a red flag as a guy who doesn’t pay for anything. If they’re not willing to openly discuss their financial situation, and set clear expectations for what each of you will contribute going forward, you cannot move in with them. In the case of the guy paying for everything, you could suddenly find yourself homeless. In the case of the guy paying for nothing, you could suddenly find yourself with a squatter who refuses to leave your apartment even when you break up with him. And either situation will be a lot harder to get out of if you don’t have it in writing somewhere (even iMessage) what the guidelines of your living arrangement are.
That’s it from me! Please comment with your worst moving-in-with-a-boyfriend stories below.
Images: Shutterstock; @betches, @uuppod / Instagram; Giphy (1)