So… things have been going really well with that special someone and you think that it might be time to take the next step. That’s an awesome, daunting, scary, but completely delightful notion and one which requires a great deal of forethought. While you should definitely think about all the wonderful things that will come from this decision (extra time together, sleeping in the same bed every night, no more coming home from the same party to different locations…) there are also a few other things that you’ll want to give a good amount of brain space to before you commit to an arrangement. Here are five things to consider before cohabitating with your boyfriend:
It’s great to dream (and maybe your dreams do match up to reality) but have you had a good long chat with your BF about what’s coming next? Are you both thinking about the same things in the future? Are you in agreement about important life decisions such as marriage, a house, a family? Ensuring that these long-term goals and aspirations match up is a crucial part of the relationship at this moment. If you have disagreements about some fundamental item on your list (and it might be a big item), now is the time to find out rather than after a year of living together. Take some time to be clear about whether you want kids, when you want a ring, and if you would love to live somewhere else (across the country? Abroad?) for a time. Doing this now can save a lot of heartache in the future when things have gotten that much more serious.
Every person has a few quirks about the way they live; are you ready to accept his? Will you be able to put up with the toilet seat being left up, or the kitchen never being clean, or his laundry being wherever it winds up on the floor at the end of the day? Will you still love him after you discover these things? Do you still have sparkles in your eyes about him being a perfect human being, or are you ready to face that there will be things he does which drive you nuts? Remembering that, while your relationship is special and sacred, he will have living habits which make you bonkers and loving him in spite of these habits is a big step towards being ready for the big move.
Just living together isn’t enough to keep a relationship healthy. Even though you cohabitate, your interactions can’t be limited to rent, utilities, and taking out the garbage. You will still need to make time for dates, special nights out, getting dressed up for each other. You are going to have to work to keep the romance alive; are you ready (and is he ready) to put in that kind of work? Do some thinking about the logistics of dating your roomie before you move in, and make some agreements about how this will work out. Date night once a week is a good start; maybe you’ll leave the television turned off during dinner; whatever works for the two of you!
It can be so easy to get caught in the delightful vortex of your live-in relationship. Since the person you want to spend time with is right there all the time, you may stop doing the things which make you, the individual, happy outside of your relationship. Think about where you will make time and space for you; when will you go out with your friends (and leave him home for the night)? When will you watch Rom Coms and paint your toenails? How do “you” fit into the dynamic of the plural, and what are some of the concrete ways that you will make that work when you are living together?
On the literal level, is your closet large enough for him to have the space he needs? On the metaphorical level, will you be sad or upset when he spends Sunday watching football with the guys and you really wanted to take in a movie together? Just like you need time to be you, he needs time to be him. Again, talk to him about this before the big move. Ask him what he needs, how often he needs it, and how you can help support him in getting it. Remember that a long-term, serious relationship is a partnership; you have to bat for each others’ teams in order to make it work.
No matter the answers, ensure that your decision makes sense for you. That is the key to finding happiness in love (and life). Good luck, and happy cohabitating!