Birds do it, bees do it. Even educated fleas do it. Let’s do it. Let’s move in together to secure greater financial freedom in a housing market crisis. Moving in with your partner can be a joyous step in an intimate relationship. It can also be a terrible mistake. So how do you know which way the rental cookie will crumble? Lucky I’m here, eh?
Living together feels like a natural step for a mature, committed relationship. We covered this in My Boyfriend Lives Somewhere Else. When you’re dating someone, you’re saying: “I would like to maximise the time I can spend with you. I would like to regularly kiss your face and make balloon animals with you as often as possible”. If you move in with your lover, imagine how many balloon animals you could create! Enough to attract the attention of the relevant authorities!
Let’s not get carried away in a herd of tiny pink giraffes. Your relationship needs to be demonstrably strong first. You need to have proven your love can weather a few storms. You need to have a healthy relationship with yourself as well as your partner. You cannot look to your partner to fulfil all of your emotional, financial or practical needs. Your relationship needs to feel balanced and stable. You need to be sure your love is realistic, rooted in commitment and focused on devotion. You need to ensure your values are squarely matched.
Your values are so important. Everybody has an opinion on whether Ross or Phoebe is the worst of the Friends. Everybody has a favourite member of N*Sync. Everybody knows whether they prefer a soft or firm pillow. But when it comes to real compatibility, that shit does not matter. It’s your values which will affect the success of your relationship. These are your principles and judgements about what’s important in life. Step one: connect with your values. Work out what guides your decisions. Dig inside for what makes you feel truly content. You might enjoy living in a quiet part of town because you value serenity over convenience. You might want to visit your parents every weekend because you value close family ties. You might enjoy working long hours because you value your career projects.
[N*Sync by L. Busacca/WireImage]
Your partner’s values should roughly equate with your own. This is necessary for living together to be a remote possibility in the future. Shared values are also likely to make cohabitation a success. You’re in bigger trouble if your partner doesn’t have a clear set of values. If they change their personality with the prevailing wind and have no firm sense of self, then guess what? No lovely house filled with tiny pink giraffes for you. There’s some serious growing up and glowing up to be done there. A person without principles cannot offer you real affection, devotion and stability.
You both need to be truly ready to commit to each other. The idea of moving in with a romantic partner can send even the most emotionally intelligent into a tailspin. It’s understandable to feel anxious about the financial or practical side of things. It’s natural to worry about where your collection of Nelly Furtado CDs will be safely stored. You’re going to feel the nerves and excitement which accompany any major life event. But if you’re thinking about your exit strategy from the jump, then this ain’t for you bro.
How to make cohabitation work:
• Timing is everything. You don’t have to share a home because you’ve been together for exactly one year and twenty-three days. Your relationship is unique and you can take it at its own pace. There are no fixed timescales governing the direction of your love. Like many of the feelings we crowbar into an idea of ‘realistic love’, you’ll both just know when the time is right. You’ll have achieved contentment and stability in your relationship. It will be a truly mutual decision. You’ll be guided by your shared desire to bring a greater level of commitment and intimacy to your relationship. You’ll truly enjoy being around that person and feel totally comfortable in their presence. If you’re moving in with your partner just because your tenancy is up and you’re temporarily homeless, then guess what? You’ll be dividing up your Nelly Furtado CDs in a matter of months. Moving in with your partner is not something to be done for convenience or out of a sense of duty. Not now, not ever.
• You’re going to see them most days of the week. This comes as a surprise to the less emotionally mature amongst us. If you live with your partner, you won’t have access to your own space in the same way as when you were riding solo. You need to accept the practical changes which come with sharing a living space. You need to make room in your life for your partner, both literally and figuratively. You cannot expect to come home every night and blast Russian reggae through your iPhone speakers. Unless you’re both fans of the genre, in which case, congratulations on finding your soulmate, Vladimir. There is compromise in romantic relationships and this comes into sharp focus when you live with your partner. Be prepared to make adjustments and be considerate of their needs.
• All relationships are equal, but some are more equal than others. An imbalance of power does not a healthy relationship make. If you’re considering moving in with your partner, you need to be sure you’re on an equal footing. Your feelings should be fully reciprocated, not tolerated. If you have any doubts about your partner’s affections (see: You Don’t Love me Back), then you need to have a difficult conversation about their expectations. People often stay in relationships because they’re comfortable, rather than content. One person cannot make all the decisions about the relationship or make sacrifices which aren’t appreciated or reciprocated. Once you’ve moved in together, that sense of equality and partnership will make for a happy home. If equality is missing, you’ll risk becoming one of those couples where one does all the dishes and the other stews in silent resentment. Nobody wants to become a terrible Hallmark meme. Demand better for yourself and your love.
Next week is a G4RL collaboration! A special lady will be joining us to talk about being single and female empowerment. So put your blog belts on and buckle up for a meeting of minds in ‘A Tale of Two Gals’.
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