Moving in with your significant other is a pretty big step. Generally, it's the type of thing you do when you want to be with that person forever, whatever forever looks like for you (whether that's just living together, getting married, starting a family, or eventually all of the above). It's not really the kind of thing you should take lightly, especially when signing a lease together. It's a commitment, not only to loving another person, but to sharing a whole life and space with another person. It might seem like a piece of romance-flavored pie, but it's a whole lot more than that. It's devoting yourself to "making this work" and weathering hard times together. You can't just walk out the door anymore when the door you'd be walking out of is your own. If things end up not working, it's more than just parting ways — it's finding somewhere else to live on your own, dividing possessions, and dealing with all the financial aspects of breaking up a joined household.
Deciding if you're ready to move in with your significant other or not isn't as simple as "We want to be together all the time." Of course, that's one important factor. But there are a whole host of other elements that need to be taken into consideration. How you feel about kamikaze dutch ovens in the middle of the night, for one. You need to consider what you are willing to take with you into your new living situation and what you have to leave behind, both in terms of physical possessions and emotional baggage. There's not going to be room for everything, and you have to remember that moving in together very tangibly makes you a "we," and that certain things will become inextricable. Of course, there's always the choice to back out if things don't go to plan, but that won't be as easy as it would be if you were living separately. Choosing to live with your SO can be a truly wonderful and fulfilling experience, and indeed a necessity when it comes to "moving forward." Here are the signs that you might be ready to take that step together.
1. You spend every night together already
Not all relationship decisions have to be about romance and love. Sometimes, they can be about practicality. Now, I'm not saying this is the only reason you should move in with someone (far from it!), but it's a factor when combined with all the others that should be considered. Are you together all the time anyway? Do you both sometimes go weeks without sleeping in your own apartment? Being together all the time (sleeping together, keeping stuff at each other's apartments, etc.) is a good a practice as any for cohabitation. And if you live in an expensive city, and your relationship is at a place where you do everything together anyway, living together can be a much more practical option. Although, if you've known someone for two weeks and spent the entire time at their place, this might not apply to you; your time spent always together should be spent over a significant enough amount of time that you know and feel comfortable with the other person.
2. You want to live together
This is the no-brainer romance option. If you both want to live together, chances are you're both ready, willing and eager to take that step. Again, this shouldn't be the sole reason to commit to cohabitation, but it's a very compelling one. Don't live with someone because you feel obligated to or because it's the "next logical step" in your relationship or because you're pressured into it or because you've got no other choice and want to share rent. Live with your SO because it's something you actually want.
3. Your fights are no longer world-ending
Sometimes, more commonly at the start of a relationship, world-ending fights happen. Every couple is different, but for most of us, there are certainly times when you fight and everything feels very mighty, very Romeo + Juliet, very... LARGE. You love so hard that it comes out in your arguments, and each argument is a make or break scenario. Of course, when you're first getting to know someone, most things are make or break. You're learning about another person and based on what you learn, you decide if you want to stay or not. When you decide to move in together, you don't decide not to fight, but you do have to decide not to have apocalyptic arguments anymore, because that kind of drama might be romantic at first, but it's simply not sustainable in a long-term living environment.
4. You can communicate openly
Communication is the key to good everything. If you're past secrets and game-playing with your SO, and can discuss anything, then you're probably good candidates for co-habitation. When you live with someone, so many things need to be talked about. From trivial everyday things like washing dishes to bigger things, like joint financial decisions and — gasp — your feelings. You need to be open, honest and clear with the person you live with, as well as able to listen and digest what they say to you with equal care.
5. You don't take each other's moods personally
One of the most important things my mother had ever said to me is, "Nothing is ever personal." I'm still working on really adopting that way of thinking, but it can be hard, especially when you're in close quarters with someone and it feels like you're responsible for all their bad moods. You're not. Sometimes, people just feel shitty, and unfortunately, everyone reserves the right to be shitty from time-to-time, especially in the comfort of their own homes. But you'll drive yourself mad if you move in with someone and beat yourself up every time they're feeling foul. Sometimes you'll be a source of aggravation, but part of living with someone is understanding, accepting and dealing with moods that have nothing to do with you.
6. You can fart around each other
You can't live with someone you can't fart next to. You just simply cannot. I tried not farting in front of my boyfriend for probably the first eight months of our relationship, in order to "keep some mystery," because I'm not a very mysterious person and I thought I'd try something new. When we decided to move in together, I knew my days were numbered, so I just started letting them rip. Living with someone means you have to be willing to be yourself all the time, and guess what? Yourself farts. And drools in your sleep. And picks their ears. And does all manner of disgusting things. But so does your SO! Living together means living with all the disgusting bodily functions you both have, and loving one another and still finding each other sexy and desirable regardless. Bonus points if you can laugh at the big farts.
7. You can compromise
Compromise is essential in any relationship, but even more so when you're living together. You can't have everything your way all the time when you're cohabiting, and more often than not, you're both going to have to meet somewhere in the middle. It's tough, but something you really have to be willing to do in order to live happily with someone. You can't just think of yourself anymore. You have to think about the other person, and when their needs don't match your own, you both have to be willing to find a middle ground that suits you both.
8. You know their worst qualities
Know how someone fights. Know their most disgusting habits. Know their morning breath. Know everything about them that's the worst. You need to know all the bad stuff about someone before you live with them so there are no surprises when you do (although I guarantee there will still be surprises, you just have to roll with those for the most part). You also need to know this stuff so you're not put off by them when you start cohabiting and immediately feel like you've made a big mistake. If you can love someone and want to commit to a life with someone while completely aware and in tune with their worst qualities, then you've got a pretty powerful foundation live on.
9. You're comfortable making decisions with the other always in mind
This goes back to the compromise thing, but even more so. You have to know that when you move in with someone, pretty much all of your decisions effect them. You can't just take an impromptu vacation with friends. You can't stay out all night without calling. You can't buy something ridiculously expensive for yourself. You have to think all these decisions through with the other in mind. Your trip might have to work around what's suitable for your partner. Your night out might have to be curtailed to suit their schedule. And there might be more pressing household things that need buying before you go and splurge. It doesn't mean you can't do all that stuff, it just means you always need to be thinking about how it effects the other person.
10. You love each other's company
Loving each other is one thing, but you have to also love each other's company. I'm a big believer in your SO being your best bud too. It's more fun that way! When you can shed all your sense of propriety and just be yourselves in each others company, the way you would with a close friend. To live with someone, you need to let go of all your pretenses and relax: this needs to be the person you can go out and get drunk with, or stay in an eat pizza in your underpants and watch Netflix with. You should love just being with the other person, even when it's in silence.
11. You understand one another's expectations
Before you move in with someone, you should have a solid understanding of what it is they expect from a living situation, and you should be willing to uphold that, or at least meet in some kind of compromise. For instance, maybe they expect cleanliness. Maybe you expect to not live in a "party house." Whatever it is you need in order to make your home, you should discuss, and both be clear about. It helps if you want the same things, but as I already said, as long as you're willing to meet in a mutually agreeable middle situation, that's fine too.
12. You both have the same future priorities
Moving in with someone isn't going to work if one of you thinks this is the path to marriage and the other one never wants to get married. (I mean, seriously, people, we've all seen Friends by now; no one wants to be Phoebe and Mike.) So before you decide to move in with someone, you need to make sure your life plans are looking at least a little bit similar. If one of you thinks this is going to be their living situation for the next five years and the other thinks they're going to take off backpacking around Europe indefinitely a year later, then that needs to be discussed before anyone packs up and moves. Being part of a relationship means planning for a future together. The details of your ideal futures might not look exactly the same, but you should have the same priorities so that your trajectories aren't facing in opposing directions.