When you first start dating, moving in together can seem like a very distant idea. But for other couples, it’s simply the next logical step in the relationship.

Far too often, however, the lines between logic and romance become blurred. Couples with much less than a year of dating (think a few weeks or months) begin copying keys and merging lives.

Despite the good intentions, many of these lovers dive into cohabitation head-first without so much as a peep about living arrangements. Unsurprisingly, many of these “fools rush in” kind of couples end up separating.

Let’s be real, moving in together is a big deal. It’s only natural to feel a bit lost on whether it’s the right time or not.

But to give love a fair shot, every couple thinking of moving in together needs to talk about the following seven things—in between make out sessions, of course.

1. Did You Talk Money?

Couples should talk about several things before moving in together. Money and finances are at the top of the list. And, the secret? Have these big discussions before you decide to share a living space.

As you may know, talking about money isn’t the most glamorous of conversations. To set the stage, dedicate some time to spend on this un-sexy topic. Furthermore, have the talk on neutral ground where you and your significant other both feel comfortable—coffee shop, pizza parlor, restaurant, etc.

Unless one half of the couple is a sugar daddy or mama, you’ll need to discuss the following:

  • How you’ll pay for moving costs
  • Who will cover the deposit and/or first month’s rent
  • How will general bills be divvied up
  • Your financial history if significant (debt, loans, bankruptcy, etc.)
  • How you’ll handle different income levels
  • If you’ll lean toward saving or spending as a couple
  • Your emotional relationship with money
  • In the event of a breakup, decide who gets the place
  • Potential issues either of you foresees

Despite money being an everyday element in life, these talks can seem awkward. But, when you see other couples arguing over money and you’re not, this uncomfortable moment will be nothing but a hiccup for you both.

According to most relationships experts, money creates the most conflicts between couples. To avoid these sorts of relationship rifts, be supportive and keep an open mind in this discussion. Commit to having a candid talk and then move on to the next step of the process.

2. Have You Settled on Whose Stuff You’ll Use?

It may be obvious that you’ll be using your well-kept and stylish furniture when you and your partner move in together. However, your partner may be thinking the same thing—even if their furniture dates back to the stone ages.

Especially, if this is the first time moving in with anyone or you’ve always had your own place, it’s important to talk about household items.

For example, will you use your couch or your partner’s? What about kitchenware, bathroom towels, or bed linens? Furthermore, what will you do with all the duplicates, if you have them?

Make it a point to talk about whose stuff you’ll be using after you move in together. It may not seem like a big deal pre-cohabitation. But, merging households and lives can be an enormous endeavor for couples to endure.

Thankfully, you don’t have to toss all your belongings if you decide to use your partner’s stuff. If you aren’t quite will to part with your stuff, self-storage is available to ensure your things don’t end up on the curb.

It’s helpful to measure the space you’ll be living in and work around those dimensions. Before you move anything, agree on what stays, what’s tossed, and what is sent to storage. It will also be easier to send to storage a favorite piece of furniture, for example, knowing it simply doesn’t fit in the new space.

3. What Do You Expect from Cohabitation?

Moving in together is a big step financially, legally, and emotionally. Some couples enter into cohabitation as if it were a short-term “trial run,” or some sort of substitute for marriage.

In reality, it’s not quite “I do,” and yet, it is. The reason is that you’ll deal with the same type of challenges as other dating couples. Additionally, you’ll also face similar difficulties as married couples, too.

So, the real question is what do you actually expect from cohabitation?

Knowing the answer to this will help you to set appropriate expectations for the relationship and your future, in general.

For example, do you picture both of you cooking dinner together, folding clothes like a couple, or even building a meaningful life together? Or, do you believe you’ll each keep to your own space, spending personal time as if you’re still living the single life?

Clearly, if you expect one thing from moving in together and your partner expects another, the potential issues are numerous.

Cohabiting means different things to different people. In fact, a lot of relationship dissatisfaction stems from inappropriate expectations. To avoid this relationship pitfall, align your expectations.

In other words, have an open discussion with your partner about what cohabiting means to each of you. Although you don’t need to have the exact same ideas about true love, you do need to come to an agreed-upon narrative for your future.

4. Who Will Do What Household Chores?

Following closely behind finances, household chores have become a notorious relationship-killer. Plus, most couples don’t think to discuss such boring and mundane duties before moving in together. But, this vital discussion may very well save your relationship in the long run.

Keep in mind, though, it’s not household chores that drown out love. Rather, doing the damage is the strife uncompleted household chores conjure up.

For example, some partners will gladly pitch in with chores during the honeymoon phase. After moving in together, familiarity sets in and suddenly the willing help is nowhere to be found.

Also consider individuals who have very strict gender roles. If you weren’t raised with the same rigid adherence to feminine or masculine roles, you may easily become disappointed in your partner’s behavior.

Moreover, the mindset about gender roles can go both ways, impacting both males and females regardless of sexual identity or orientation.

To find a happy middle ground, carve out the space to determine who will take care of which duty. Be as detailed as you can. Talk about little things such as replacing the toilet paper roll (and which way it faces), grocery shopping, or handling the dirty dishes.

Especially if you’ve never lived with anyone else in your adulthood, household chores can really sneak up on you. So, be proactive in your approach by hashing out the details with your partner beforehand.

5. How Will You Handle Personal Space?

No matter how in love you are with your partner, there will be times when you need your personal space. Not only is that normal, but it’s also healthy as well.

Learning how to balance quality time with alone time is a delicate act for any couple. Naturally, you and your partner may have different ideas about how to achieve this balance. One thing that will undoubtedly offer you a one-up is simply to talk about it.

It may feel awkward to tell your partner the truth—you don’t exactly want to be around them 24/7. However, emotionally mature and respectful partners will be understanding to your needs. Plus, you can deliver the message with tact and empathy.

Consider you and your partner’s family history. Were you raised in a big family where privacy and personal space were luxuries? Or, were you an only child with loads of personal time and space? Your family environment and childhood experiences will influence your adult expectations and needs.

Like many other potential issues, this one can be resolved by communicating with your partner. Establish a personal time pact with one another. Acknowledge the need for personal space and define what that means to both of you. This will eliminate the possibility of accidentally rejecting and misunderstanding one another in the future.

6. Do Your Lifestyles Jibe?

Opposites attract all the time. While some couples make it work, others gradually let their different lifestyles tear them apart.

In contrast to what many believe, the key is not in finding a partner whose lifestyle mirrors your own. Rather, aim for an open line of communication, embracing the differences in each other with understanding.

That being said, how well do you know yourself? Also, how well do you know your partner?

For example, do you like to drink your early morning cup of coffee in peaceful quietness while your partner prefers a blaring TV first thing to supercharge the day? What about diet, exercise, or sleeping schedules? How well do you get along in those departments?

When you live in separate homes, it’s easy not to be concerned with things like what’s in the fridge. But, when you’re used to a certain standard of living, you generally want to stick with it.

Consider this, a salmon-and-kale-lover running three miles every day may have a hard time living with a couch potato eating pizza and chips. At the beginning of this relationship, the differences may be cute, spouting off jokes about how opposites attract. After a while living in a studio apartment those same differences could clash in a big way.

To safeguard your relationship against lifestyle friction, get to know yourself first. Then, talk about what you need to maintain your current lifestyle.

There’s a good chance that your everyday routines won’t align perfectly. That’s normal. Take an honest look at your situation to determine whether you can both compromise to make it work.

7. Is Moving in Together What You REALLY Want?

Moving in together is a big commitment in many ways. Before you take the leap, be sure that living with your significant other is what you really want.

Keep in mind that once you move in together, it’s more difficult to break up or leave a toxic situation should your romance play out in that way. Furthermore, moving in together means navigating real estate challenges as a couple rather than from the safety of singlehood.

Aside from all the scary “what ifs,” do some introspection. Is there a situation you’re trying to escape—toxic home environment, high rental rates, or a psycho ex?

Take stock on your emotional well-being, listening to what’s really going on inside. Sure, there is always a list of reasons to do or not to do something. But, many items on those lists carry weight.

Paying attention to your internal gauge means you’re practicing self-awareness. Which, is a very good sign that you’re not just diving in head first with eyes closed and fingers crossed.

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Dyanne Harvey