Should you move in together after dating for a year?

That’s the consensus amount of time two people should wait according to 29 percent of people ages 18 to 34 who responded to a recent SpareFoot survey. Those who are ready to move in after six months numbered 28 percent, the next biggest group of respondents.

But what was most interesting was how the answers diverged by gender: Men in general found it acceptable to move in together after a shorter dating period, with 59 percent saying that dating a mere month was adequate, compared to 40 percent of women who felt that way.

And the numbers were flipped for those who said to wait at least a year: Nearly 60 percent of those were women, while just over 40 percent of men thought it was necessary to wait that long.

What gives?

Slow Down, Mister

Men who want to move in to fast should be a red flag, says Rori Sassoon, relationship expert and CEO of Platinum Poire, an invite-only matchmaking service.

“Men feel like they have a housekeeper and have all their needs met when they are living with their significant other before marriage,” Sassoon says.

Yep, that old adage: Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

And women are wise to be wary. Since women are more likely to be nurturers, it’s almost always more work for them to cohabitate.

“The reluctance on a woman’s part is normal since it is liable to fall to them to keep the ‘nest’ clean, prepare food and be otherwise flexible to their mate,” says Claudia Luiz, Psya.D.

But the bigger issue surrounds what else women are giving up, Sassoon points out: “When you commit to living together, you are in a ‘wife’s role,’ with no actual long-term commitment guaranteed. Why would women want to commit long-term when men are getting the benefits of commitment with no long-term promise and none of the security that comes along with it?”

Why Time Shouldn’t Be The Only Factor

The biggest mistake that couples can make in deciding when to move in is making the choice out of convenience or circumstance, says Rebekah Montgomery, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in private practice who specializes in relationships and helping couples prepare for marriage.

Instead, the decision should be based on emotional and relationship factors, rather than logistics. Key indicators include:

You Are Both on the Same Page

Are you moving in together because you spend every day together and it’s silly to have two places? Or because you are taking the next step in your relationship?

Ideally, the step to move in together is an indicator of greater commitment and that both partners see a long-term future for the relationship.

“The critical piece here is that there is an explicit conversation and that both partners are aligned in the reasons for sharing a household,” says Dr. Montgomery.

You Are Ready to Combine Finances

Managing money together is a key relationship task so it’s important to have open conversations about income, bills and how you will share in the household costs.

“These conversations are good practice for learning about each other’s financial values, goals and overall approach to money,” says Dr. Montgomery.

And that includes being open about any misgivings you may be feeling, Dr. Luiz adds.

“If you’re a woman who’s worried that most of the household tasks will fall to you, or a man who fears he’ll be responsible for the lion’s share of the rent or other expenses, you should feel comfortable expressing those concerns and working out a plan that is amenable to you both,” she says.

You Are Ready For Changes to Sexual Dynamics

Greater familiarity and closeness will impact sex, Dr. Montgomery points out. You should make sure that you have discussed and planned for how you might address it.

“Being home together isn’t necessarily ‘quality time,’ and not planning fun dates or activities can sometimes lead couples to get into a rut,” she warns.

You Support Each Other’s Independent Interests and Relationships.

It’s important not to give up your personal identity and independence when you move in together. Dr. Montgomery advises having a frank discussion about how you will balance quality time both together and apart so that you don’t lose your individuality.

Your Relationship Can Handle Conflict

Conflict is inevitable and necessary, says Dr. Montgomery. “However, when the two of you fight now, you will be staying under the same roof,” she says.

It’s important to be able to talk through how you will handle fights in the context of living together, as in how you will respect each other’s space and determine how to reconnect even if a problem isn’t completely solved.

You Are Willing to Compromise on “Stuff.”

We at SpareFoot can’t help but add that moving in together involves combining two households. That can inevitably lead to a clashing of styles and potentially terrifying conversations over taste and your attachment to certain belongings. We, of course, have a solution: Ample storage space for the win. (You know, just in case it doesn’t work out and you do wish you had that recliner back after all.)

Cathie Ericson