Should We Move In Together? 9 Things To Agree On With Your Partner Before Taking the Leap
Before you get caught up in the whirlwind that is moving in together, you and your partner should pause long enough to ask yourselves a few important questions. In doing so, you might learn that you're not quite ready to take such a big step. Or, at the very least, that there are a few things you'll want to agree on first, before sharing a space.
Moving in together obviously has a lot of positive benefits and it can be a great next step in your relationship. But it can also come with some pretty big challenges. "Living with a partner can shift the dynamics of a relationship drastically, especially if it's the first time living with a partner," Jamie LeClaire, a sexologist and sex and relationship educator, tells Bustle. "It can feel like a crash course on learning your boundaries when you might not yet be that great at communicating them."
While it's possible to figure it out as you go, it might be easier to parse out any potential issues beforehand, LeClaire says, so you can spare yourselves conflict and heated disagreements down the road. Here are a few things you'll want to agree on, according to experts, before you officially live together.
1. What A "Tidy" Apartment Looks Like
It might not sound like a big deal if you're the type of person to leave coffee mugs lying around, while your partner prefers a clutter-free, dish-free life. But subtle differences like this one can become quite the problem, as time goes on.
This is especially true if you've already noticed a difference in your cleanliness preferences. For example, "you can tell by how a person keeps their current place and their car whether they are neat or messy, and generally this doesn’t change," Dr. Margaret Paul, PhD, relationship expert and author, tells Bustle.
If you sense it could become a problem, have a conversation now in order to define what a messy versus tidy apartment might look like, and what's livable and what isn't. Everyone will have a different opinion, and you'll want to find a way to strike a balance before moving in.
2. How You'll Share Chores
From there, talk about the division of labor within your apartment, in terms of who will do what chores and how often.
"You might find that you and your partner have certain chores that you prefer doing more than another," LeClaire says. "Maybe you decide that because one of you works more and makes more, they will contribute more to the rent in exchange for the other partner taking on more responsibility for the managing and cleaning the household."
You won't, however, want to assume, as that can lead to one person feeling overworked, frustrated, or under appreciated. By figuring this out beforehand, LeClaire says, you'll not only keep your apartment clean but also avoid potential conflict.
3. How You'll Pay For Things
Living together often means splitting the rent, divvying up bills, and being more open about your financial lives. But since you'll both have a different idea about what's fair and what isn't, you'll want to talk about it first.
"It's important to understand the new combined household budget and to clearly define who will pay for which expense or if the plan is to split everything equally," Alexis Germany, a relationship strategist at Seeking, tells Bustle. "It might not seem like a big deal now, but if you are the only one buying groceries and paying your share of the rest of the bills you could begin to harbor some resentment over the issue."
4. How Often Friends Will Come Over
When living together, you'll want to "make sure you are both on the same page about having friends over and inviting [...] guests to come and stay with you," Germany says. You will, after all, be sharing a space, so you'll want to take each other's personal boundaries and schedules into account.
"Setting up a policy of checking in to make sure the other person is comfortable with a visitor can help you avoid a lot of unnecessary arguments," Germany says.
5. How Often You'll Go Out
The expectations for how much time you spend together versus apart can change after you move in, especially in terms of your social lives and what events you attend solo or as a couple.
"Talk about the expectation of fun and time spent with family and friends," psychotherapist Joanne Ketch LPC, LMFT, LCDC, NCC, tells Bustle. "Will it be as a unit? Separately? Every weekend? Once a month? Will your family expect the two of you every Thanksgiving? Talk about it now to avoid surprises and hurt feelings."
6. What The Move Means
For some, moving in with a partner simply means sharing a space, while carrying on with the relationship as it was. Sure, you now wake up next to each other every morning and put your food in the same fridge, but it doesn't necessary mean anything more than that.
For others, moving in together can seem like a next step towards engagements and marriage. And that's why this is one area where you'll definitely want to agree. "Decide why you are moving in together instead of just doing it and thinking you both are on the same page," Stef Safran, a matchmaking and dating expert, tells Bustle.
Be clear about what you both want and what the move might mean for the future, so no one's left guessing.
7. How You'll Handle Conflict
When you live separately, you can hang up the phone during a conflict and give yourself time to cool off, or walk away and go home to your own personal space. But since arguments can take on a whole different vibe once you live together, you'll want to talk about the best ways to handle conflict, Germany says. Will you want to talk about it immediately so the mood doesn't hang in the air? Or give yourselves time to cool off? Come up with a few ground rules for arguing, so you'll both know exactly what to do.
8. How Often You'll Have Sex
While it may feel strange to discuss your sex life and how it might change, that's precisely what you'll want to do before moving in together.
After all, "one person may think that now that they are living together, they will be having sex all of the time and the other partner may not be on the same page," Gregory Canillas, PhD, relationship expert and president and CEO of Soul2Soul, tells Bustle.
Sharing the same bed, and being around each other all the time, can definitely impact your sex life. Chatting about expectations and what you both want can keep it from becoming tense.
9. How Much Personal Space & Alone Time You'll Need
"It will be exciting at first to live together, but that novelty can soon wear off," LeClaire says. You might not realize that you need time alone, or that your partner is more introverted than you realized — and conflict can ensue.
"Agreeing on the importance of getting your respective alone time is crucial," LeClaire says. "You may need to agree on an allotted amount of time each week that each partner gets the space to themselves for a bit, while the partner goes out and keeps busy."
Reaching agreements in these areas will keep the move a positive change, versus one that invites conflict into your relationship. It might take some of the fun out of it for a second, as you discuss potential problems, but it's definitely worth it to ensure you live harmoniously.