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May 18, 2022

3 Things To Know Before You Move-In Together

By: Rachele Angiolini

Congratulations! You have just handed in your keys to your former apartment and moved in with your partner. You have taken a giant leap in your relationship and progressed to the next level. What happens next? In this post, we are going to help you navigate living together for the first time. 

There are numerous ways to refer to a couple moving in together such as shacking up, living together, or playing house, but researchers prefer to use the word cohabitation. Cohabitation is on the rise with approximately 50% to 60% of couples in the United States deciding to live together before marriage1. 

Many couples view cohabitation as a steppingstone to marriage; however, the likelihood of cohabiters transitioning to marriage is dependent upon education levels. (Those more highly educated are more likely to get married after living together than are people with a lower level of education.) 

Moving in together presents its own set of unique challenges from splitting chores, to divvying up rent, to figuring out how much time to spend together. 

Additionally, couples living together report more physical aggression, increased frequency of sex, more negative communication, higher levels of commitment, and decreased relationship satisfaction when compared to couples that are just dating. 

It may be tempting to move in together out of convenience or because you want to spend more time together; however, when couples move in together to test the relationship, it becomes problematic. 

Regardless of all the external factors, it’s important to make a conscious decision that moving in together is the right next step for your relationship. If not, it may not be all rainbows and butterflies like you had hoped. However, this does not mean that your relationship is doomed just because you decided to live together. Below are some tips to consider:

Determine whether you decided or slid into moving in together. There can be all kinds of reasons to move in together — your lease is up, you spend so much time at your partner’s place anyway, you’ll both save money, your roommate just moved out. The issue is that, instead of making a conscious decision about living together, many couples just let it happen – which is called sliding. 

On the other hand, deciding is making an informed decision to live with your significant other after having a conversation about the goals and the reasons for cohabiting. After you have moved in together, there may be plenty of reasons that make it harder to break up—what researchers call constraints.  When people slide into relationship transitions, they may start building constraints before they have a chance to think about whether they want to be committed or dedicated to this person and this relationship. 

Since you are already living with your partner, just take the time to sit down together and ensure that you are on the same page as to what your long-term relationship goals are. Moving forward, it is also better to avoid taking on things together that might make it harder to end a relationship (even if you are no longer wanting to stay in the relationship) such as a dog, a joint bank account, or a child. By not having any constraints, you are able to cut ties if it does not work out without feeling like you are in too deep or stuck. 

 Take time-outs to improve negative communication. As I mentioned earlier, negative communication often increases once couples move in together. So, when you are trying to communicate with your partner and it seems to be going awry (specifically if you are getting heated or frustrated with each other), take a time-out instead of continuing to go around in circles without being productive. 

The period for a time-out can range from 20 minutes to 24 hours, but not more than that so that it does not seem like you are trying to avoid talking with your partner. During the time-out, do not keep the fight alive in your head by ruminating over it. Instead, watch your favorite show, read that book that has been sitting on your shelf for months, take a nap, meditate, or take a soothing bath. 

After the time-out is over, talk things through with your partner in a calm manner, repair any damage that was sustained, and apologize for any hurtful things that may have been said or done. By taking time to regroup and think rationally, both of you will be more willing to understand the point of view of the other person which decreases the likelihood of yelling and insulting each other. If there is less negative communication, then you will have a more productive discussion and a more positive experience. 

Engage in novel activities together. Even though moving in together with your other (and perhaps better) half means you get to spend more time together, how that time is spent is crucial. According to studies, when couples just Netflix and chill or go to dinner at the same restaurant, or fall into other routines, relationship satisfaction decreases. 

To avoid falling into the same rut, share new experiences together by engaging in novel activities such as dancing, a weekend getaway, getting a scuba certification, or cooking a different cuisine together8. You could even take this a step further by trying out an unfamiliar activity in bed which can range from acting out a sexual fantasy to trying a new position or using a toy. 

By enjoying exciting and arousing endeavors together, you will feel closer to each other, which leads to higher levels of relationship satisfaction.

While moving in together poses its own set of challenges, it is also a unique opportunity to truly get to know and have fun with your partner. Living together is also a great chance to get to know yourself and your own triggers. 

As you are testing out the waters for yourself, the tips mentioned in the blog post are the top three things you can do to reduce the adverse effects that moving in together before getting engaged seems to have. Which of these tips stuck out the most to you? Which one are you most excited to implement with your partner? By giving any of the tips a try, moving in with the love of your life might just be the best decision you have ever made.

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