Barring a breakup, which can happen anytime, there are different stages to romantic relationships. You meet, you feel a spark, you get to know each other, you have your first fight, you make up, and you celebrate your anniversary. Eventually, you’ll likely talk about moving in together, which can lead to marriage.
Though cohabitation can be a challenging transition, many American couples actually decide to live together before marriage. According to the National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 70 percent of couples cohabitate before marriage.
The decision to move in together is a major step in any relationship, so it’s understandable that not everyone takes the step. Before boxing your stuff up and downloading a packers and movers app, why not ask yourself (and your significant other) some important questions to make sure you’re both ready?
1. Do you see yourself with each other in the long run?
Moving is stressful as it is, and you may not want to put yourself in a situation where all the stress was for nothing. Obviously, you can’t predict the future and there’s no actual guarantee that moving in together will lead to an engagement or marriage (that might not even be what you want). But, you have to at least consider whether you see yourself with each other for a long time.
If your decision to move in together is because you’re both in it for the long haul, there’s a smaller risk that things will result in stress and inconvenience later on.
2. Are you good at handling conflict?
Conflicts and misunderstandings are normal parts of any relationship. How you and your partner cope with such situations is an important factor to consider before moving in together.
Cohabitation means more constant contact with each other. If you’ve already fought over little things in the past and you didn’t handle it well, the problem might become bigger once you’re together. But, if you are generally communicative about your issues, you already have a good foundation upon which to build this new stage of your relationship.
3. Are you on the same page when it comes to money?
Money is one of the biggest factors contributing to failed relationships. So, in a relationship or not, cohabitating means having a roommate you need to navigate financial responsibilities with. It’s important that you and your partner trust each other to handle your own end of the finances.
It may be awkward, but a conversation about finances is something that must be done prior to living together. This way, you can set up a realistic budget and establish the state of your finances.
4. Do you really want to live together?
Cohabitating should be a well-thought-out decision instead of just the next logical step in a relationship. Scott Stanley, a research professor and the co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver calls this “sliding versus deciding.”
Moving in together and combining assets make it harder for a couple to break up if things don’t work out. That is why you have to make sure that this is what you both genuinely want, and that you’re not just using it as an excuse to save on expenses or because it’s the next logical step.
Before deciding to live together, there are a lot of serious discussions you need to have with your partner. As long as you have open and honest communication about what you both want in your relationship, you can increase your odds of cohabitation bliss.