Moving in with Your Significant Other? Read This First | My Move

Moving in with Your Significant Other? Read This First

Author: Nancy LaFever

You've reached the point in your relationship when the two of you are discussing the possibility of moving in together. It sounds great on the surface. You love each other; it would be a trial run if you decide to get married; and you would save so much money. Sounds like a win-win.

But don't start packing yet! There are some important points to talk over before deciding on living with a significant other.

1. Is your level of commitment the same?

This is a really critical issue. If you aren't sure about this relationship, but he says he is, you probably shouldn't consider moving in together. It's not a time to see if you'll come around to feeling that way. If you both agree that this is where you want your relationship to go, you'll probably be having a different discussion about cohabitation before marriage. Ask yourselves why you're taking this step.

2. Bring up the five-letter word.

M-o-n-e-y. Money issues are a leading cause of divorce. Living with a significant other will involve mutual spending and budgeting. Differing attitudes and beliefs about money can be disastrous if not addressed. Is he a saver? Are you a spender? There's a potential conflict already.

Talk about how you would pay for the rent, utilities, food and household items. Would you split it down the middle? Use an ability-to-pay basis? Work with some real figures, or at least good estimates. Who will be on the lease if only one of you has to take that responsibility? Don't forget to address discretionary money. Do you like to go out five nights a week and he's a homebody? Discussing money can be uncomfortable but it's an important conversation to have before living with a significant other.

3. Are your lifestyles compatible?

Although you may already be spending most of your time staying over at each other's places, you don't live together. Everyone has a certain rhythm to their day, quirky habits and feelings about their "stuff." It may sound silly and insignificant, but if you tend to be organized and he's kind of scattered, those two very different styles could drive both of you crazy. Morning people and night owls have a tough time with sleep and waking routines. If he's up at 5AM and you want to watch a movie at 9:30PM, you're going to be watching him sleep through it!

4. Maintaining your individuality.

If your friends are already telling you that they don't see enough of you because you're always with him, that could be a red flag. It's essential that you have a life separate from his. Time with your friends, doing solitary activities that interest you and maintaining independence when living together is something to discuss before combining households. Be sure to also assess expectations for time with each other before living with a significant other. We all need alone time and time to decompress after a bad day.

5. Getting along, but accepting differences.

If he leaves the refrigerator door open one more time, you're going to kill him! To keep from reaching this point, address small issues as they arise. You don't always have to agree and make nice, but talking through conflicts will de-escalate them.

6. Have an exit strategy.

It doesn't sound lovey-dovey, but talk about how you would separate your things if this didn't work out. It might be a simple "what I brought in, I take out" plan, but you will accumulate new things together, too. It may be awkward, but put these ideas in writing.