If you've been with your partner long enough and are ready to take the next step, you might be considering moving in together. It might sound wonderful to wake up every morning in the same place and get to know one another on a new level. But it's also a big change and an even bigger commitment. You might be asking yourself how to know if you are really ready. What are the signs that this is the right move (literally!) for you?
For help, we turned to relationship coach Kathy Jacobson. She talked us through what couples should look out for in themselves and their partners to see if they are ready for this step. She also told us what couples can expect if they make the decision to move in together and how to make it as smooth of a transition as possible. Read on to learn more.
Meet the Expert
Kathy Jacobson is a life and relationship coach who helps her clients figure out what they really want in life.
What to Expect When Moving In Together
It's easy to anticipate the practical changes that come with moving in together. You will share a refrigerator and a television and closet space. Every night you will go to bed together and wake up in the same place. Like any roommates moving in, it might take some time to get into a groove that works for both of you. What chores will you each be in charge of? How much will you clean? When do you do the grocery shopping? You can even talk about some of these issues before the move to ease the transition.
As for the emotional changes that come with sharing a physical space with someone, it's best to not have any expectations, reveals Jacobson. "Expectations can ruin any relationship. There are bound to be ups and downs, that's part of the game," she adds. "How each person deals with those is important. No blaming or shaming. Just honest communication that comes from the heart, not the head." Go in with curiosity, not a set mindset about how things will be.
Tips for Living Together
Communicate more, not less.
"Communication does tend to change when people live together. They may tend to think the other person knows how they feel. People can take each other for granted," shares Jacobson. "It’s best to be honest. Tell each other what the house rules are from your perspective and listen to what their [rules] are. If [they] leave the toilet seat up and you really don’t like it, let [them] know. But be gentle. Don’t blame."
Maintain your independence.
Sometimes when partners move in together, they start doing everything together, admits Jacobson. "When you live with another person your time can be eclipsed. Maybe that’s because you want to spend all your time with the other or maybe they are jealous if you go off without them."
Resist the urge to do everything together and maintain your separate lives. It's important to have your own friends, interests, and activities, so you can still be true to yourself as you grow closer to your partner.
When something comes up, look at yourself first.
Inevitably something is going to come up that causes one partner to be mad. It can be as small as someone didn't do the dishes when they said they would or as big as they are working too much and are never home. Whatever it is, Jacobson encourages you to look at yourself first before blaming your partner. Decide why you are upset, what needs aren't being met, and why you are having this reaction before approaching your partner.
"When something comes up that's uncomfortable, that person needs to go within to find out what that's really about before talking to their partner," she says. That way you will be able to communicate lovingly and without blame, and you'll make a lot more progress.
Signs You Are Ready to Move In Together
You have good communication.
The biggest sign you are ready to move in together is if you've gotten to the place where you communicate effectively. "You have both communicated clearly what it is each one of you wants and needs," says Jacobson. "It's crucial to any relationship that there is one person talking and the other one listening."
Make sure this is genuine, she adds. "It has to be really listening, not rolling eyes or pretending to have heard what their partner is saying." You're going to have to communicate even more once you live together, so it's important to get this skill right.
You accept the other person.
Jacobson also says for a relationship this intimate to be successful, both partners have to accept one another fully. "You can't go in believing that they can change the other one to think and believe as they do," she explains. You're going to find out more things about your partner once you live together and share a space, so it's best to accept that they are a different person with individual needs and feelings.
You can talk honestly about moving in together.
If you can't even clearly talk about moving in together, it's not a good sign, adds Jacobson. You have to be able to be fully honest with each other. "State what you want and why you want it. Again, listen to what your partner says. Listen to the words, to the energy behind the words, and ask questions if you're not sure."
In addition to being able to listen, you need to be able to express what you want. "Be honest about how you are feeling," offers Jacobson. "If something doesn't feel right, own it. Don't make it about the other person. Really take responsibility for how you feel."
It's important for both of you to address any wants and concerns before the move so you are making a fully informed decision.
You have rich, independent lives.
Living together is different than dating. With the latter, you can choose when you see one another. If you live together your home is the same, and you will be together more often than not. Once they move in, many couples fall into the habit of spending all their time together, which can be unhealthy. You can put too much pressure on your relationship or you can grow resentful that you've given up so much to be together.
The important thing is to make sure both of you have balanced lives before you move in together. "Each person needs to have their own, independent time and space," says Jacobson. Having your own friends and your own interests and hobbies is also important. That way you will have healthy, rich lives both outside and inside your home.
You're on the same page about your relationship.
Before you move in together it's important to determine what being in a relationship and loving one another means. Do you show your love by buying each other gifts or by sending texts throughout the day? Is it important that you hang out a few times a week exclusively or is it OK to simply cuddle at the end of the night after doing different things? "It's important that couples discuss what they believe love to be," Jacobson shares. That way, you won't get into endless fights over vastly different expectations.