Are you contemplating whether moving in together with your partner is the right step for you and your relationship? Of course, you should. Moving in together for the first time can be scary and exciting in equal measure. Being in a live-in relationship is not just about sharing toothbrushes with partners (yucks, get a new one); it is about sharing vulnerabilities too.
The subject of moving in together reminds me of a song by Charlie Rich, “And when we get behind closed doors, then she lets her hair hang down, and she makes me glad that I’m a man, Oh, no one knows what goes on behind closed doors…”
Granted, living with your partner adds a whole new dimension of intimacy to your relationship. However, it’s not a decision that should be made lightly or prematurely. Before you start packing your stuff and co-sign a lease, take a moment to ask yourself, “Are you moving in together too soon?” If not and you feel ready to take this step, it still helps to think about the boundaries, ground rules, and conversations you should have to make this a fulfilling experience for you and your partner.
Sounds too overwhelming? Fret not, we’re here to help you cover all bases before moving in together with the help of emotional wellness and mindfulness coach Pooja Priyamvada (certified in Psychological and Mental Health First Aid from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Sydney), who specializes in counseling for extramarital affairs, breakups, separation, grief and loss, to name a few.
What Does Moving In Together Mean For/In A Relationship?
To be able to decide whether moving in with your partner is the right choice for you, you need to know what it means for your relationship and your future as a couple.
Pooja points out, “Moving in together is a big leap for any relationship. Whether it converts into a long-term commitment or not, it does reflect the intent of both partners to be together more. Wondering if you are moving in together too soon? There is no such thing as too soon. There cannot be a timeline for this. It depends on the level of emotional intimacy and intensity that the two people involved have been experiencing with one another.”
Moving in together could mean the following things for a relationship:
- You get to different sides of your partner’s personality, that too every day
- It makes sense financially and it is way more convenient
- It gives a taste of formal commitment (and could be a trial run before marriage)
- The level of trust and reliance increase
- You have already cohabitated for short periods, like spending the weekend together or taking trips together, and want to make the arrangement more permanent
- Cooking, cleaning, and shopping can be way more fun together than alone, provided you talk about and come up with a system of sharing the load that works for your both
21 Expert Tips For Couples Moving In Together
According to studies, the percentage of US adults who are currently married has declined from 58% in 1995 to 53%. Over the same period, the share of adults who are living with an unmarried partner has risen from 3% to 7%. While the number of couples who are currently cohabiting remains far smaller than those who are married, the percentage of adults ages 18 to 44 who have lived with an unmarried partner at some point (59%) has surpassed those who have ever been married (50%).
As live-in relationships become far more common, having a broad framework of dos and don’ts or guidelines for cohabitation to abide by can help make the experience more smooth sailing and fulfilling for both partners. To that end, we bring you some expert tips for couples moving in together:
1. Don’t make it a big deal
Know that moving in together is just a trial run. You don’t need to get a mortgage together. You can just rent a place together. If you make a big deal of it, it will seem terrifying. So, approach it in a relaxed way. You are not doing something you can’t reverse. You are just trying something new with your partner.
Image Source: Pew Research Center
2. Discuss every little detail beforehand
What are the questions to ask your partner before moving in together? Pooja emphasizes, “All the aspects of a life together need to be discussed.” According to her, these include:
- Logistics like how the household would be managed
- Mutual finances – who will pay how much
- Emotional needs of being with a partner 24×7
- Sexual needs and related issues like contraception
- Social hurdles that could accompany such a move
3. Get insights into their childhood
When moving in together for the first time, it is important to communicate better with your partner. You can ask your partner endless questions, without any reservations or inhibitions. The environment your partner grew up in would have a lot to do with how they will behave in a live-in relationship. For example-
- Do you prefer to do things yourself or are you used to having house help around?
- What kind of examples did your parents set about money when you were a kid?
- What are the issues that trigger childhood trauma in you?
4. Allocate tasks to avoid fights in the future
Pooja says, “A household involves so many responsibilities, so there must be a clear division of labor right from the very beginning – cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, making all bill payments, arranging for guests if any, must be discussed and fairly allocated as per the availability and skill of each partner.” You can do dishes for one week and let them shop for groceries, and then reverse those tasks in the next week.
Related Reading: 7 Strategies To Stop Fighting In A Relationship
5. Ask them if they are open to couples therapy
You should always know if your partner is open to the idea of counseling (in case things go downhill in your relationship). Couples therapy is not some miraculous cure that will make all your problems go away. Research points out that the success of therapy has more to do with the client’s mindset than the type of therapy. So, counseling works better for clients who approach therapy with the optimistic view that change is possible and are passionate and enthusiastic enough to work on themselves.
6. Make sure you don’t get too tired of the sex
“Moving in together means being more available to each other sexually, which could work both ways. It could be good for enhanced intimacy but it could also take away some of the charm and attraction that stem from not seeing each other so often. Couples need to be aware of each others’ preferences and tasks must be shared so that one person doesn’t become too tired for sex,” says Pooja.
7. Rent a place that is feasible for both of you
When moving in together, try finding a place that falls somewhere between both your workplaces. My friend, Sarah, moved in together after 3 months of relationship with her boyfriend. However, they are still caught up in the logistics. While he has to walk five miles to reach his office, she has to drive for an hour. The commute is so long and irksome that she gets frustrated and exhausted. This is affecting their relationship and their fights have increased.
Related Reading: 55 Intimate Questions To Ask Your Partner
8. Take out some alone time when moving in together
Pooja stresses, “Alone time is crucial in any relationship because, in the absence of it, people feel suffocated in any equation. There needs to be a balance between alone time and time spent together.” So, every once in a while, take out some ‘me time’.
It could be going on a solo trip, shopping alone in a mall, eating alone at a café, running with earphones on, reading a book, or drinking alone at some bar. Become your own best friend. Find your home in yourself. Learn to enjoy your own company. This way, you can avoid some of the relationship problems after moving in together.
9. Discuss the future when moving in together
Have you watched the series Little Things on Netflix? This show beautifully captures the moving-in-together checklist. The lead couple on the show is asked the question, “Some of the best things in life can’t be explained rationally, like love. Did you guys fall in love rationally?”, to which their response is, “Of course! Even before we fell in love, we were already bonding over what we wanted from life, how we wanted to live…” So, it’s good to go with the flow but it is also important to discuss with your partner where they see themselves in a decade or two.
10. Talk about children and pets
Clients often want to know from Pooja the questions to ask a partner before moving in together. Her reply is, “Before moving in with someone, it is important to know about all aspects of their lives. What are their other commitments/responsibilities like pets and kids? Who are their frequent guests? Do they have friends over for sleepovers?”
So, before you move in together, have a conversation about each other’s current responsibilities and obligations as well as your shared responsibilities as a couple. For instance, you could ask your partner how you both will split joint purchases, regarding shared pets and kids.
11. Take some time off after work to detox
Dating an extrovert can mean dating someone who would want to rant about their day as soon as they come home from work. But an introvert might need some alone time after a whole day of interacting with people at work.
Related Reading: 9 Tips To Make An Introvert And Extrovert Relationship Work
So, taking an hour or two to yourselves can actually work wonders in an introvert and extrovert relationship. An extrovert can use that time to catch up on social media or texting. An introvert can use that time to take a nap, watch TV, or enjoy solitude.
12. Don’t take your partner for granted
How to avoid relationship problems after moving in together? Pooja answers, “Always remember, it is a commitment, whether legal or not. So it is important to give it due respect and space in your life. Taking your partner for granted because you’re now together 24×7 is only going to give rise to conflict.”
13. Advice for moving in together? Downsize
In the excitement of moving in together, don’t end up stuffing your house with things you don’t even need. Keep some sentimental mementos that hold value for both of you as a couple. But make sure you don’t hoard your common space and avoid clutter as much as you can. Donate the things that you don’t need. This will have a direct positive effect on your relationship. Even research has shown how clutter negatively affects our mental health.
14. Find middle ground on the AC temperature
What are the things to discuss before moving in together? Start with the AC temperature. Pooja explains, “Sometimes basics like AC temperature, or amount of light in the bedroom lead to major arguments. Sometimes work hours can also be in different hours/shifts, which can make partners feel distant despite living together. These practical issues need to be discussed. Each partner must negotiate and meet the other midway.”
Related Reading: The 9 Fair Fighting Rules For Couples | By Expert
15. Put a time limit on social media usage
What should be the most important thing on your moving-in-together checklist? You don’t want to become that boring couple where both partners keep scrolling through Instagram but hardly talk to each other. It helps to have some ground rules like, “Don’t use your phone at the dinner table”. Watch Netflix occasionally but balance it out with going out on dates. These dates will give you both a change of environment.
16. Keep your expenses proportionate to your income
One of the things to discuss before moving in together would be if you should split expenses 50-50 or if it should be proportionate to your income. Pooja answers, “Ideally, basics like food and rent must be in proportion to income but personal expenses like special foods if any, cosmetics, internet bills can/must be paid individually too.”
Also, ask your partner if they’re diverting a portion of their earnings toward savings or paying off a debt, disclose your own financial assets and liabilities, and then come up with a fair division of expenses.
17. Communicate and set boundaries
The most important in the moving-in-together checklist is learning how to communicate and set boundaries with your partner. Some examples of emotional boundaries could be delegating tasks if you feel overworked, asking for space when you need your own time, avoiding over-committing to plans, speaking up when you feel uncomfortable about a particular situation, and dropping the guilt if you are not the one at fault. Make sure you both decide on boundaries that can’t be negotiated. For example:
- “I expect you to not hit me ever”
- “I expect you to respect my time with friends”
- “I never want us to go to bed mad”
18. Take the next step if and when you feel ready
If friends and family keep asking you, “Moving in together is the same as marriage only. When are you guys putting a ring on it?”, ignore them. Pooja points out, “There are endless examples globally where people have lived together for an entire lifetime without marriage. So there cannot be a timeline for the living together to marriage transition. Live-in couples may or may not feel the need to legalize their relationship.” Don’t become a part of the perennial marriage vs live-in relationship debate.
19. Rethink moving in with a partner in your late teens and early 20s
Pooja advises, “When one is younger, that is the time to develop a concrete personality and get to know yourself better. Having a full-time partner with whom you live can be more taxing at this stage.” So, if you are moving in together during your college years, make sure you don’t end up losing yourself in the relationship. Moving in together too soon can feel overwhelming, as everything is sped up and intensified.
20. Advice for moving in together? Take the finances seriously
I asked Pooja, “What are the common relationship mistakes that you have seen in your clients when it comes to a live-in relationship?” Her answer was, “Often in the enthusiasm of living together, practical aspects like finances get ignored and become a major bone of contention later. People fail to understand the long-term implications of such a decision and then regret it later.”
Related Reading: How To Do More Than Just The Bare Minimum In A Relationship
21. Discuss the hypothetical breakup
When it comes to moving in together, I have seen that things can get very ugly in case of a breakup. Partners fight over things as petty as furniture and Bluetooth speakers. So, Pooja advises, “In case of a breakup, the couple has to mutually decide who stays back and who moves out.” It is better to discuss all this beforehand because should the relationship go south and you choose to part ways, neither of you will be in the emotional state to make rational decisions about dissolving your cohabitation arrangement.
Finally, moving in together is that milestone that will not just make your relationship more fun but also add depth to it. You will get to know yourself and your partner on a whole new level. In case it gets overwhelming, don’t forget to seek professional help. Counselors on Bonobology’s panel are here for you.
You should start talking about moving in together when you love and trust your partner completely. If cohabiting and traveling together has worked out well for you, maybe it’s time for this trial run.
There is no such timeline. The timeline differs from relationship to relationship, in terms of attaining a certain level of emotional and physical intimacy.
No, it shows the true mirror of your partner and your relationship. It can get intense and overwhelming and the fights might increase. Moving in together kills a relationship if you let it. It’s more of a reality check of where your relationship stands, in terms of maturity level.