9 Women On What It Was Like To Move In With A Significant Other For The First Time

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

The longer you date someone, the more likely the topic of living together will come up one day. After all, you two have discussed being together forever, so why not start “forever” now? Or maybe you think living together will be a good test before you get married? Whatever the reason may be, there are several different ones when it comes to living with a significant other for the first time — it’s a case-by-case basis. However, one thing is for sure: You should know the reason for doing so.

Heidi McBain, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and author of Life Transitions: Personal Stories of Hope Through Life’s Most Difficult Challenges and Changes, weighs in on the topic. “One of the biggest issues that comes up with partners moving in together is why,” she tells Bustle. “Is this a step towards marriage for both of them? Are they doing it to save money in the short-term, but they aren’t really sure if the relationship is heading anywhere long-term? These are hard questions to ask, especially in the early days of the relationship when people are happy and in love and just want to be together.”

McBain also stresses not to forget about the other big issue that moving in together entails: money. “Another area that really needs to be discussed before moving in together is money,” she says. “How are you going to split the bills? What if one partner makes significantly more than the other partner, then what? Again, asking the hard questions and having these difficult conversations ahead of time will help keep your stress level down, so you can focus on the most important part of this big life transition — being together!”

There's plenty to learn from living with a significant other, and below, women reveal what it was really like moving in together for the first time.

1Mary, 33

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“I was 25 and I moved in with my boyfriend at the time after only six-ish months of dating because rent was so expensive and we thought it would be best, financially, to do so. I learned right away that we shouldn’t have moved in together so soon like that. I felt obligated to stay in the relationship because I didn’t want to lose my portion of the deposit by breaking up and bailing on the lease early! Then, at one point, he lost his job, so I had to pay his portion of the rent, too… so that factored into the relationship going longer than it was supposed to because he owed me money.”

2Megan, 27

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“When I first moved in with my boyfriend, I didn’t know what to expect. While we lived apart, I was always the clean freak and he was on the messy side. We knew there would be an adjustment period as we figured out our share of the household responsibilities, but it took months and months! It ended up that I was the messier of the two of us, and he kept his things much more organized. He may take days to do the dishes (gross), but that’s the only thing I still have an issue with. Almost a year later, we’ve found our rhythm and are making it work for us!”

3Deanna, 29

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“I honestly thought that going from strictly boyfriend-and-girlfriend to live-in boyfriend-and-girlfriend would be a breeze. You see all the TV shows with couples happily cohabitating, but you never see the work or compromising about things like who does the dishes or cleans the bathroom. None of that exists in TV-land.

So I think the biggest lessons I learned from living with a boyfriend for the first time were that a relationship that works prior to living together won’t always work once you do, and that’s OK. But, most importantly, what I need from my partner is super important for me to be happy, and I can’t silence that for the good of a relationship. And often what you need spans much further than love. For example, I need respect, which can mean many things, even something as simple as my partner picking up after themselves or what time they come in at night.”

4Challee, 31

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“My boyfriend and I moved in together for the first time about a year ago. The biggest thing that I learned was to be flexible and not nag at him for every little thing. I learned that it’s important to calmly communicate what, specifically, is bothering me and not let it fester for days on end and then explode all over him. I also learned that if I want him to help me with the dishes or cleaning, I should ask as opposed to hoping he’ll notice all that I’m doing around the house and instinctively know that I need help.”

5Holly, 33

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“I’ve only lived with one partner, ever, and it’s my current one, Ruby. Neither of us wanted to live with someone unless it was the real deal, and trust me — we’re the real deal. We also wanted to date at least a year before doing so. Does she do things that make me crazy? Yup. Like she’ll leave her clothes in the dryer for days after they’re dry. Or she’ll forget to take the garbage out on her day (yes, we each have days).

The key thing for us is having a chart — mainly with cleaning responsibilities, the grunt work neither of us wants to do (garbage, cleaning the bathroom, etc.). I’m better with bills, so I pay our bills (we have a 60 percent/40 percent system; since I make more, so I pay more), and she’s better about walking the dog, so she does that more. My key advice? TALK about issues right when they come up. Even though you think you know the person so well and can read their mind, it’s better to just be upfront about what’s bugging you.”

6Meghan, 23

Ashley Batz/Bustle

“I moved in with my boyfriend of five years this past year and I have learned so much. First of all, you think you know someone — and then you move in with them! For me, I learned much more about his childhood, his upbringing, and his parent’s parenting style. Some little things I noticed were that he was raised in a house where his mother cooked almost all the food except for the meat — his dad cooked all the meat, and that is very evident in my boyfriend’s kitchen/cooking habits. I then filled the role of cooking most of the food (I love to cook), but he always wants to cook the burgers, steaks, chicken, etc. This was something we never spoke about before, but it became obvious from living together.

I also started to notice the little things about myself that show how I was raised — putting eggshells down the sink — but he and his family threw them away. You don’t realize how every family has certain ways of doing things and how you grow up thinking how you were raised is the ‘right’ way to do something.

I also learned that waking up at different times can be tough. When one person has to wake up early and the other does not, it can be difficult for the person who has to wake up early — almost a feeling of hard work versus not hard work — which isn’t the case at all because it is simply what time you wake up! Same thing with coming home from work.”

7Shelly, 34

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

By living with someone for the first time, I decided it was also the last time — unless I have a ring on my finger. I think that without the ring commitment, it’s too easy to just throw in the towel if things go wrong, which they did… and fast. My then-boyfriend had six months left on his lease and his roommate was moving back home, so it seemed like a no-brainer for me to take his place.

Lesson 1: Don’t move in out of convenience like this. Lesson 2: His rent was $200 more a month than mine. He offered to pay $100 of this, but still — $100 more for me to pay added up. Lesson 3: I thought we saw each other a lot, pre-move-in. Now, when you’re together 24/7, it is a LOT of togetherness. And, in the end, I think that’s what tore us apart — not maintaining social lives much outside of our relationship, which gets boring. ... I’d say really think things through before you move in with someone, and don’t do it just because their roommate is moving out."

8Renata, 26

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“I went to Barcelona in June 2017 for a solo Europe trip to discover the world and really figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Just a month later, I met someone whom I connected with very much; at that moment, he happened to live in the same Airbnb. We started hanging out day after day and finally decided that we would make it ‘official’ and see each other exclusively.

Needless to say, I did not end up going back to the United States. This was the type of situation I think you just feel, and when you feel that it is right, then you don’t really have a choice to say no.

Living together has been much easier than I expected — since I had friends who have lived with their significant others, they basically warned me about it. Regarding housework, I am the one that initiates cleaning or cooking, but if I ask for him to help, he does. I just may have to bribe him a little, like let him play his video games for a little longer. ;) The one thing we are still trying to figure out is the money aspect, who pays when, or how we split it up. We have had a few disagreements about it, but we always get past those. This is one decision I definitely do not regret making."

9Carol, 68

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“Engaged to be married, my future husband and I, both military airmen, moved in together a few months before we got married. We’d both lived in military dormitories and were used to being alone. So, living together, having someone always around was difficult. Although both of us relished spending time alone, we both felt that since we were living together, it meant we always had to be together. It was also hard remembering to let each other know where we were going, instead of being free to come and go. Lastly, he liked to stay up late, while I turned in around 10:30 p.m. or so. Over the years, we discussed these and other differences, and resolved them. Now, we’ve been together for 45 years — we both need quiet time; telling each other where we are going is as simple as saying ‘I’m running out, be back in a bit’; and he still stays up late.”

As you can see, no two situations are the same when it comes to living with a significant other for the first time. But, you can see some common themes — for instance, the division of labor when it comes to cleaning, as well as money issues and how to divide up the rent and expenses.

In any case, like McBain suggests, it’s best to have a game plan going in, before you and your significant other move in together. Like they say, communication is key in *any* relationship, and that advice is critical when it comes to you and your partner living together — especially before any leases or bank loans are signed.