On the list of big relationship milestones, moving in with your partner for the first time is pretty darn close to the top. When it comes time for that big step, it's normal to feel excited — who wouldn't want to have a permanent sleepover with their partner?! — but you shouldn't let your excitement distract you from some of the realities of living with a partner. Because let's face it: even if you love someone as your partner, there's always the chance that, as a roommate, they could have some behaviors that get on your nerves.
"You have reached the milestone in your relationship where you are considering sharing a home with your partner — now what? Hanging out with someone a few times a week is much different than living with [them] 24/7," Justin Lavelle, relationship expert and chief communications officer for BeenVerified, tells Bustle. "How can you be sure that your partner is reliable, respectful, responsible, and honest — all traits of a decent roommate?"
Before you take that step with someone, it's crucial to have a conversation (or several) about things like the division of chores, your living situation dealbreakers, what kind of home you'd like to share, and what you want your living-together relationship to look like. If you can communicate about all that stuff, there's nothing stopping you from having a happy, harmonious life together once you move in. But in case you need a little reassurance before you make that decision, here are eight subtle signs that your partner would make a great roommate, according to experts.
1. Their Bedroom Is Livable
Everyone has different standards of cleanliness, but if two people are moving into a shared space, it's comforting to know in advance that your partner, at the very least, is able to pick up after themselves and keep things mostly tidy in their personal space.
"If garbage, dirty clothes, and other junk pile throughout your partner’s room, the chances are this person may have a difficult time maintaining a clean house," Lavelle says. "A little clutter here and there is fine, especially if lack of space is the issue; however, overflowing trash cans, molding food, stained sheets and comforters, and an unseeable floor are signs of a bad roommate. Unless a compromise is met, having different ideas on living environments is a fast ticket to relationship termination."
2. They're Cautious About Spending
Talking about money with a partner can be tricky, but if you're going to live together, it's absolutely necessary. Knowing your partner is responsible with money before making the choice to live together can help you avoid money-related arguments down the line.
"When you do make the leap to living with your partner, you want to make sure [they are] ready for that kind of responsibility," Lavelle says. "Ask yourself this: Is your partner quick to buy flashy items on [their] want list? Or [do they] focus on needs? Does your partner value saving money? Or does frivolous spending cause [them] to live paycheck to paycheck? Other red flags are credit card debt, unpaid bills, and eviction notices. Financial stability is key for any healthy relationship."
3. They Have Their Own Hobbies
When you and your partner live together, you're naturally going to be spending a lot of time together, but it's no less important — and in fact, it might even be more important — to have individual hobbies and passions that you can work on in your alone time.
"Hobbies are essential for building confidence and self-identity, as well as de-stressing after a long day of work," Lavelle says. "For roommates, similar hobbies contribute to compatibility. This is your opportunity to get to know your partner’s passions. Furthermore, alone time to pursue hobbies and work on self-care is vital for keeping a relationship fresh."
4. They're Good At Communicating With You
Even if you don't live together, good communication is essential to a relationship — but it becomes even more important when you have to talk about tough stuff like bills, chores, and running a household together.
"Living with anyone takes cooperation and communication," Lavelle says. "You must be able to address problems as a team rather than finding ways to point fingers. Many couples find themselves at a loss when unable to ask their partners about stressful topics because they fear hostility, accusations, and other negative reactions. One way to avoid arguments and rocky patches is by discussing expectations and compromising in areas where you and your partner disagree before moving in with each other."
5. They Respect Your Differences
Prior to moving in together, you might think you know everything there is to know about your partner, but a lot of new aspects of their personality will come out when they're your roommate, too — and being able to respect each other's differences is key.
"Differences can be the most glaring when you’re living with the other person," Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. "If your partner respects your differences without trying to change you, they’ll probably make a good roommate one day,"
6. They've Lived On Their Own Before
One super telling indicator that your partner will be a good person to live with? If they've lived on their own before and handled it well, that's a sign that they'll be a reliable, responsible roomie.
"This shows independence financially and their ability to take care of household things on their own," Varsha Mathur, Dating & Relationship Coach at KnowingLuxe Coaching, tells Bustle. "Oftentimes in a relationship, when living with a partner, it is not 50/50, one person may have to do more sometimes and knowing that you partner is up to that challenge is great."
7. They're In Tune To Your Needs
Even if you don't set a lot of store by receiving gifts, if you've noticed that your partner gets you little things that you could use around your home — like a coffee grinder or a new piece of wall art — that's a sign that they're in tune to your needs.
"Knowing what is needed in a home is important," Mathur says. "If you have no wine cork screw and your partner brings you one next time, it is a sign of consideration and thoughtfulness."
8. They're Kind To Others
Above all, before moving in with someone, it's important to know that they're a kind, caring person — even (or especially) during tough times. Taking a look at how they treat and interact with other people in their life can give you an idea of how they might handle adversity with you.
"Arguments are bound to happen," Mathur says. "The important thing is to keep calm and be kind to one another. Seeing your partner's reaction to others will help determine how they may interact with you."
At the end of the day, moving in with your partner is a serious step, and it will present a unique set of challenges, regardless of how ready you think you are. All you can do to prepare is communicate, communicate, communicate — and if all goes well, you then get to enjoy the benefits of living with the person you love the most.