Advice Before Moving in with Your Girlfriend
Living together could either make your relationship better or cast a spotlight on flaws that hadn't been visible previously. I believe there's no such thing as too much negotiating before moving in with your girlfriend. But don't even bring the subject up with her until you're ready – if you discuss the possibility and then decide against it, that might create tension. Once you're ready to broach the topic, you'll want to discuss whether your motives for cohabitating are compatible. And it might make sense to create a written agreement that you both sign sometime before your new lease or mortgage begins.
Create Realistic Expectations Together
Let's back up a bit here and talk about managing expectations – I mean, your girlfriend's expectations. Some people think of living together as a dress rehearsal for marriage, while others might regard cohabitation as a way to save money. There's no right or wrong way to consider moving in together. Whatever it is that you think about this issue, communicate it to your gal so she knows how you feel. And be really clear about money issues: Are you planning to pay her way, or do you expect to split expenses with her? Will you merge finances and if so, to what extent? Are you buying a place and taking on a mortgage together? Do you want her to do all the cooking and cleaning, or would you be dividing that responsibility?
Can You Compromise?
Successful cohabitation calls for compromises, so make sure both of you are capable of doing your own fair share of it. And you can get some practice at it by preparing a written agreement spelling out each of your responsibilities in the joint living arrangement. Issues you'll want to address in this document you'll sign might include:
- Who owns which pieces of furniture, and how would things be divided up in the event of a break-up?
- Who gets custody of pets in the event of a break-up?
- How will responsibility for bill payment be divided up?
- How will chores be handled? Who cleans when?
Keep the Relationship Strong
Drafting a document describing your living arrangement is a good step toward preserving the health of your relationship. But there are other things you'll want to do to keep the romance going, so you don't get tired of each other. I suggest:
- Talk openly with your girlfriend, both about the relationship and domestic issues.
- Encourage your girlfriend to identify her boundaries, and you do the same, then respect each other's limits.
- Schedule times when each of you can be alone.
- Make sure both of you keep up active social lives, cultivating your own circles of friends.
I'm really excited that you're considering moving in with your girlfriend. I hope it works out well for both of you!