Usually after people have been dating for a while the most common next step is to move in together. A lot of people either feel very certain and excited about this decision or pressured and not ready. Some people move in after a few months of dating, a year, or some wait a number of years before taking this step. Some people even get engaged before they’ve ever lived together (personally I don’t recommend this, you should see how you live together first before you make that kind of commitment). Sometimes it can be easy to know when you’re ready to take this step and sometimes it can be a hard decision to make that has to be well thought out.
Below I’m going to talk about some tips for before you move in together, some things you may have to handle and go through together, some tips for after you move in and have been living together for a while, and my personal experiences of going from being in a relationship where it’s all love and butterflies and romantic dates to now becoming roommates where it’s a lot of arguments, financial stresses, seeing your partner at their worst, but loving each other for it anyway. This post is inspired by my partner Harry who thought I should write about something a little more personal and real then “The Best Shops or Patios or Whatever in Halifax.” 😜
Tips for Before You Move In:
There’s all sorts of advice out there about moving in with your partner like: try staying with his family first for a couple days to see how they live or go on a trip together first and see how you each act. Personally I feel like you have to have a lot of trust, honesty, commitment to each other and communication to feel ready for this big step. Here’s a couple of my personal tips:
- Talk to each other and make sure you’re both ready.
- Talk about money. You don’t need specifics on what you each make but you need to know that you can both contribute equally and that if one of you is short one month on rent or bills or groceries, that the other person can afford to cover that amount.
- You both need to be involved in finding your dream home or apartment. Make sure you set a budget, know what you each want and need. For example Harry and I know we need to have an apartment that’s pet friendly, has parking, somewhere with ensuite laundry; but we want somewhere that’s newly renovated, has a balcony, is in a certain part of town. Also go to viewings together. You might love a place but there’s something your partner won’t like about it and they will have different insights and opinions then you.
- Make sure both your names are on the lease. Don’t get stuck in a bad break up where you either A) have no place to live now or B) are stuck with the rent because they’ve just taken off on you.
- Set ground rules about who does what. Harry does most of the cleaning and cooking so I take care of the laundry and making sure bills are paid on time. Know each other’s strengths.
- Talk about what you each want in the future. It’s pretty awkward if you’ve been dating someone for a while and then you’ve been living together for a year and all of a sudden you find out that kids are really important to one of you but the other person doesn’t want them. Or one of you really wants to stay in your city/town while the other wants to move to a different country in a few years.
The biggest thing I can stress is talk to each other!
Things You May Have to Handle/Go Through Together:
One of you may have to pick up the slack and handle the home while the other person is focusing hard on their career or education. Harry and I weren’t even living together but we may as well have been because he was practically always staying at my place while I went through paramedic school and he took care of EVERYTHING. He use to clean my place, cook me dinner, make me breakfast, pack my lunches, anything I needed he did. I was going to school Monday to Friday from 9-5 and working a part time job. You need to be prepared to do this for your partner. They could get a huge job promotion which gives them longer hours, more work, etc. They could decide to go back to school full time. You never know what life is going to through your way.
One of you could get very, very sick. Like hospitalization sick. You may need to be not only their partner and their roommate but their nurse too. This last winter I had an extreme outburst of irritant contact dermatitis where there were giant blisters on certain parts of my body and one on my hand swelled to the size of a tennis ball. Harry had to go get meds for me, wait for hours in the ER with me, do any and all of the house work himself, open things for me (the swelling on my hands was too much that I couldn’t even open a lid), type emails for me, he even had to wash my hair in the sink because I couldn’t touch anything that had any chemicals in it with my hands. He had to listen to me be in ultimate self pity mode and cry at night when I could sleep because my hands itched so bad and hurt like hell. Just dating you may have been able to hide being super sick by just not seeing each other for a few days but when you live together there’s no escaping that, whether they’re in the bathroom constantly vomiting or having diarrhea for two days from the flu, or they’re being rushed to the hospital by ambulance because they’ve had a severe allergic reaction or asthma attack.
One of you could lose your job or change jobs and it will effect your household much more than you think it will. My personal example was when Harry changed jobs and for his first three months of training he took a pay hit and so I was picking up the slack in the ways of groceries or sometimes a bill he couldn’t make just yet or paying when we went out to dinner or a movie. Switching careers or losing a job can also effect other aspects in your personal life. Someone can experience a loss in confidence or self security, they may not feel as sexual and could be very stressed out. These are very trying times for couples and it will put your relationship to the test.
Tips for After You’ve Moved in Together
- You’re going to have to make compromises. On foods you eat, on furniture, on things you want to keep or want your partner to throw away. Compromise is a huge thing. I am a hoarder. I can’t get rid of anything and Harry is very minimalist. Sometimes we have to come to a compromise on what I keep vs get rid of. Tip #1.1: do not ever throw anything of your partners away without asking them first. You will have a very big fight and you will be wrong. Harry learned this the hard way.
- Understand your partner. They may have an awful habit that you cannot stand but you have to know that they’ve lived their entire life before you living this way. I’m messy. Like very, very messy. Like a tornado hit messy. And Harry, well he’s very tidy. Likes everything super organized. Harry had to come to the realization that I’ve lived this way for 22 years before he came along. So he bought me jewelry organizers and make up organizers and helps me when I clean up.
- Do things together. Make time to be romantic. Just because you live together and see each other all the time doesn’t mean you’re actually spending quality time together. Go for a brunch date, go see a movie, go for a nice walk together.
- TALK TO EACH OTHER. If your partner is doing something that bugs you then you have to say something to them. Say it in a nice way but still say it. Nothings going to change if you don’t say something. It also won’t change over night so be patient.
- Show some effort. I’m not the most on top of cleaning as I could be but when I take a day to do something like clean the apartment or organize some of our stuff, it means a lot to Harry. If you show effort to change some of your bad habits, your partner will really appreciate it.
My Personal Story:
I won’t bore you with every little detail of my moving in experience but I will say it hasn’t been easy. I have A LOT of stuff, which I’ve learned isn’t normal. It definitely comes from my mom. I grew up in a house with lots of stuff so I feel like it’s normal but after moving in with Harry I’ve learned that’s not the case. He’s very minimalistic. Every time he’s moved he’s just gotten rid of everything but the essentials.
We’ve gone through our rough patches. There’s been times where I haven’t pulled my weight when it came to house keeping or times when he’s thrown some of my things out he thought was garbage or times where we both went through a winter slum and gained weight and didn’t feel like ourselves were attractive. There’s been times where I’ve been so sick and he’s felt helpless because he can’t make me better himself. There’s been times when he’s felt down in the dumps because he couldn’t find his dream job. There’s been times where I’ve not been able to control my finances and been very in debt (because I’m terrible with money and spending) but Harry’s always been there for me to help me make a plan to get myself out of it. There’s been times when we’ve each thought of breaking up with the other for different reasons.
This is what living together is like. No lies, no exaggerations, no leaving anything out. But we’ve worked through it because if there’s one thing Harry and I are good at, it’s communicating, talking things out, and never letting each other going to bed angry. That’s a big rule in our household. And we’re still working on it. That’s the main thing I can emphasize to anyone looking to move in with their partner. It’s always going to be a work in progress.