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Things to consider before moving in together

Many couples consider moving in together as the next step in their relationship. Generally, women think of it as a step closer to marriage while men consider it a more convenient way to date. This difference in expectations can lead to frustration down the line unless both people are very clear about what moving in together means. Living together while dating is very different from living together while engaged or married. Living together while dating is very much in the here and now- cooking together, shopping together. On the other hand, living together while either engaged or married is focused on the future - finances, children, building a home. The goals of each are different.


Do discuss your expectations

Are you both viewing this as a step toward marriage or as a way to make dating more convenient? It is important to both have the same goals. Discuss your expectations with your partner so that you know you are both on the same page.

Do set a deadline for when you will be engaged if that is the plan

Generally, people are happier when the expectations are clear and both partners in the relationship are in agreement about the end goal. If your goal is to get engaged, then you should be sure to discuss a deadline for this happening, otherwise you may find yourself living together for longer than you think without ever getting engaged.

Do talk about finances

Be clear about who will pay for what. Are you splitting all expenses? Does one person earn considerably more than the other? If so, will you still split everything to maintain a sense of equality and to avoid resentment? Either way, discuss your finances including who pays what and how much.

Do get a new space or move into either partner’s apartment

Moving into a partner’s apartment is easier but may cause a sense of invading one’s space. How do you feel about sharing a closet or bureau that was once yours? We tend to be territorial over our living spaces and feel intruded upon when another person moves in. If this is the case, it might be better to pick out a new place to live.


Do not combine finances

Keep your finances separate. You don’t have to add bookkeeping or accounting roles to complicate the relationship. Each of you may have a different spending/saving pattern. Trying to work these out at this point in your relationship can only add an unnecessary strain.

Do not stay past your set deadline

Moving in together should never be open ended. Relationships have to move and grow. After a predetermined time it is important that you decide where this relationship is headed. Are you going toward marriage? Is the relationship stagnant? It is better to end this arrangement before bickering and arguments start.

Do not stay because the thought of finding a new significant other or a new apartment seems daunting

End the living arrangement when the relationship has run its course. It is difficult to think about going back out there in the dating world, but the thought of it is usually worse than actually doing it. It is much worse to spend time in a mediocre relationship.

Do not move in unless you evaluate the benefits and liabilities

Don’t feel pressure to take this step because everyone else is doing it. Be mindful of expectations. Are you both ready for this step or is one person putting pressure on the other? Moving in too soon in a relationship can cause undue pressure for a budding romance.

Jumping cartoon

There are many things to consider before deciding whether or not to move in together. The most important consideration to make is the expectation of what moving in together means for each of you. Try to set a time limit for how long this arrangement will last either toward moving on in commitment or moving out. Discuss finances, including costs of the apartment and each one’s share. This is not a marriage so reconsider any conversations about combining finances. After a while, if the relationship is not progressing, end the arrangement. It may be difficult at first to reorient yourself to being single again but it will open you up to finding your true love.

More expert advice about Dating

Photo Credits: Nathan and Tiff Engagement Shots (196) by Flickr: Nathan Colquhoun; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas -

Phyllis S. Zilkha, Ph.D.Psychologist

Ph.D. in psychology from New York University, MA from Columbia University. Head psychologist in a major corporation. Private psychotherapy practice for 20 years. Member of the New York State Psychological Association and the American Psychologic...

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