If you’re thinking of moving in together, wait a second before deciding anything! Are you really ready to take such a huge step forward?

Every relationship moves at a different pace. Some people go slower than a snail on a particularly lazy day, while others race ahead, jumping from relationship milestone to milestone from one month to the next. You move at the pace that suits you, but if you’re thinking of moving in together, don’t for a second think that this isn’t a huge step.

Deciding to move in together is a bigger step than getting engaged. I truly believe that you do not know someone properly until you have lived with them. I know this because I’ve experienced it myself.

I’ll openly admit that my partner and I moved in together way too soon, but we had no choice. It was either that or be apart for a while. I didn’t fancy the second option, so we ended up living together after just three months of not even serious dating.

Was it the right decision? Yes and no.

[Read: These cohabitation tips will help you live together in peace]

Those first few months were rocky with a capital R. We argued over EVERYTHING. I never knew it was possible for another person to be so sensitive! Everything settled down after a while, but there are many couples who won’t manage to ride out those initial storms and will part ways just after moving in together, simply because they didn’t realize how much of a major deal it would be.

The bottom line is that when you share a flat, apartment, or house with someone, you’re REALLY getting to know them. I’m talking about hair stuck up on end every morning, bad breath, bad moods, zero makeup, stressing for no reason.

Sure, this can yield great results in some cases because when you really get to know someone and see the worst of them, you love them all the more for their plus points. However, you may find that the person you originally decided to move in with just isn’t the person you thought they were.

[Read: The warning signs in a relationship that spell nothing but trouble]

Is moving in together always going to cause issues?

Of course not. Some couples find that they’ve made the single best decision ever, and it all goes swimmingly well. The problem is those couples are in the minority. It’s simply not possible for two people to be thrown unto a small space and never have an issue. We’re human beings, after all! What you need to do is be prepared for teething problems and be willing to work through them.

Without wishing to worry you, a study by the Journal of Marriage & Family found that many couples who choose to move in together before getting married have a lower risk of divorce in the first year of their marriage. Good news, right? At the start, yes. However, after five years, those same couples have a higher risk of divorce.

Do we just get sick of one another?

It’s an interesting statistic to think about, but of course, just because a study says one thing, doesn’t mean it’s going to be true for you. In addition, maybe you don’t even want to get married. In that case, it’s not a problem!

[Read: Make living together before marriage work for you]

7 points to consider before moving in together

At the end of the day, deciding to move in together simply needs to be something you both think about very carefully and weigh up the pros and cons. Don’t go into it with your eyes closed.

Understand that it’s a huge commitment and something that will test your relationship very thoroughly. However, if you manage to weather the initial storms, that’s great news for the future of your union.

#1 Ask yourself why you want to live together. First things first, why are you thinking about moving in together? Is it because you have no choice, e.g., one of you has a housing problem? Or is it because you want to spend more time together?

If it’s the latter, remember that you can spend too much time with someone if you don’t know them that well and if you haven’t been together that long, you may find being around this person 24 hours a day *well, almost* extremely overwhelming. Examine your reasons carefully, and make sure that you’re not rushing things. There is nothing wrong with taking things slowly. [Read: The best way to give space in a relationship]

#2 What are you going to do about bills? Are you able to openly talk about finances with your partner? If you can’t, you’re not ready to live together – it’s that simple. You will need to split bills in some way and that means having a conversation about who can afford what and whether it’s going to be a 50/50 split or another arrangement.

Are you going to have a joint account for bills or are you going to draw the money out and pay together? How are you going to pay the rent? It’s vital that when you’re moving in together, you’re able to openly talk about money, one of the most awkward and difficult subjects in life. [Read: How to calmly talk about money with your partner without fighting about it]

#3 How are you going to work out who does what chore? You also need to sit down and talk about splitting the chores and make sure that neither one of you ends up doing more than the other.

This is a conversation which can often cause friction, especially if your partner has a rather old-fashioned view of what they believe gender roles should be. Make sure that if you do choose to live together, you’re both working to keep the house clean and tidy, in equal measures. [Read: 6 most common relationship problems faced by couples who live together] 

#4 Are you ready for your partner to see every single part of your personality? Of course, when you’re in a relationship you have to show your true self. When you live with someone, they see every single part of you – the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in-between. This can be a shock when a relationship hasn’t had the time to grow and mature.

Living together too soon can often fracture a relationship due to this very point. Make sure that you’re ready to open yourself up completely and that your partner is willing to do the same.

#5 How are you going to make sure that you both get personal space? When you live together, you’re practically in each other’s pockets a lot of the time. This is even worse if you live in a small apartment or flat, which is often all that’s affordable for many couples.

How are you going to make sure that you both get a good amount of personal space and allow your relationship to flourish, rather than become suffocated? This is something you should have an open discussion about. [Read: 18 things you MUST do before you shack up with your partner]

#6 Do you see this person in your future *be honest*. It’s time to be truly honest with yourself and ask whether you really see this person in your long-term future. If not, ask yourself why you’re setting up a home with them.

Moving in together is a true commitment. It means that you’re joining your life with someone else’s in ways that no other arrangement can possibly do. If you don’t see this person in your long-term future, ending the relationship is going to be extremely messy if you live together. [Read: The 22 signs of true love that will tell you if your love is real]

#7 What are your expectations, and what are theirs? Are they in alignment? You need to sit down and have a conversation about expectations.

What do you expect from living together and what do they expect? Are the two things on the same page? Having different expectations can often end in tears, so this is a must have conversation before moving in together.

[Read: The 16 point checklist to help you know if you’re read to move in together]

Moving in together is a huge step. It’s often a wonderful one which takes a couple to the next level. However, when done in a rush or without thinking things through, it can be the worst mistake you’ll ever make.

The post Considering Moving in Together: Exactly How Big a Step Is It? is the original content of LovePanky – Your Guide to Better Love and Relationships.

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