At some point, you may decide to live with your significant other. Some experts think it should be avoided altogether if your goal is to get married, while others think moving in together is a good idea — and the one way to really get to know someone.
What does research say about living together? Well, if you're looking to get married, it warns of the “cohabitation effect,” wherein some couples who live together before getting engaged or committing end up less satisfied in their marriages and tend to divorce more so than couples who don’t live together first.
A New York Times article cites the importance of two key things to prevent the cohabitation effect: each person’s motivation and commitment level. It also mentions how people should live together to move the relationship forward, not test it out.
But, living together before getting hitched is not as doomed as it used to be, according to a 2010 Pew Research Center survey. It found that, among Americans who have lived with an unmarried partner, almost two-thirds said they thought about it as a step toward marriage. (The stats included 53 percent of those currently living with a partner, compared with 67 percent of people who cohabited in the past.)
I lived with one boyfriend and just started to live with another — and have learned a lot in the process. Here are eight things that no one tells you about living with someone.
1. You May Not Go Out As Much
Either you or your significant other may not want to go out as much once you live together. Maybe he or she will want to save money, or maybe their true I-love-to-stay-in colors will finally shine through. Whatever the reason may be, make sure to discuss it ahead of time. Or you can always make a designated date night so you ensure that you won’t be home every night.
2. You May Need To Work Harder To Keep The Romance Alive
Just like you may need to make date nights, you may need to work a bit more to keep the love and romance alive. Since you’re already coupled up and now sharing a lot more than you did when you first met, wooing each other may fall to the wayside. But there’s no reason it has to. You can leave each other notes (get creative — including in your partner’s wallet, by the bathroom sink, or on their car windshield), make your partner’s favorite meal for dinner, and still bring home little gifts.
3. You May Not Sleep As Well
In the pre-living-together phase, perhaps your partner snored or liked to take up most of the bed, nearly pushing you off. Perhaps you tossed and turned. Perhaps your insomnia got worse. NBD, you thought—you can catch up on your sleep tomorrow night when you’re alone at your place. But when you share your bed with someone every night, you may want to invest in ear plugs, a body pillow, a lavender eye mask, whatever it takes to ensure you get a full night’s sleep.
4. You’ll See Where Your Money Goes (And Your Partner’s), Like It Or Not
Before moving in with your significant other, did you stick to a budget? Whether the answer’s yes or no, did you discuss one with your partner now? Like it or not, money’s a given when deciding to share a living space with someone. Who will pay for groceries? Furniture? Repairs? And rent? If you make varying amounts of money, financial guru Suze Orman suggests splitting the rent and household costs based on percentages of what each of you makes, i.e., the person who makes more pays more. For instance, if you make $60,000 and your SO makes $40,000, you’d cover 60 percent of expenses.
I get mixed reactions from friends every time I tell them this (usually, from the ones who make more), stating it’s unfair. Only you and your partner know what’s fair, though I think Orman’s policy makes sense. If you have a joint bank account, you’ll wonder why they bought another video game or pair of shoes. But if you have a joint account for essentials, as well as individual accounts for fun stuff, a lot of financial fights could be avoided.
5. You May Have To Keep Your Hello Kitty (Or Zombie Figures) Hidden
Yep, you’ll soon see that you and your partner probably have different decorating styles. Before moving in with my boyfriend, Hello Kitty and Curious George were my roommates in terms of them being in every room — from my favorite oversized Hello Kitty pillow to all kinds of Curious George stuffed animals (from the fireman to the doctor). I thought they were pretty benign in terms of stuffed animals to have, but then I met my boyfriend’s zombie figures. He was obsessed with them and put a few in every room. And did I mention they glowed in the dark? At first, aside from our place looking like a pre-school, our collection of toys lived together, yet separately — mismatched yet harmonious. But once his figurines scared me in the dark one too many times and I had one zombie dream too many, I thought it was time to move some of the zombies — at least outside of the bedroom.
So, discuss your decorating. Luckily, our other decorating styles — what kind of furniture to get and what kind of art to put up — didn’t vary much, but other couples I know have had huge fights over it, the kind that nearly broke them up (on several different occasions). So, talk. And compromise.
6. One Of You May Want Guests Over More Often (Or Not)
I’m an extrovert and love having people over — the more, the merrier, and all the time! Why not?! But my boyfriend’s an introvert and would love to either be alone, or alone with me, with guests over only if absolutely necessary (with plenty of warning for him to quell his anxiety about it — or possibly make other plans).
7. It Won’t Always Be Easy
As amazing as living together can be, it’s not always love notes and flowers. You’ll fight, you’ll cry, you’ll crave alone time —and that’s all OK as long as you resolve your conflicts in a healthy and mature way, i.e., communicate and don’t be passive-aggressive or let problems build up, you’ll have way more good times than bad, and that’s the whole point, right? Unlike living apart, you can’t just go back to your place if you two get in a fight. Well, you can, but it’s a little more complicated since you have to go into your joint place.
8. They’re Not As Easy To Replace As Roommates
Yes, you and your live-in partner may break up, and one of you can always move out. But, if you’re the one who ends up staying, you’ll also be living with the memories of your ex in your living space. Daily. Yes, you can redecorate and sage your place for a better aura, but you’re bound to see reminders that’ll inevitably remind you of your ex. So, cohabitators beware.
Images: Fotolia; Giphy