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7 Things to Consider Before Cohabitating

Moving in together can be a powerful next step in a relationship. It can help both of you save money while you test out your compatibility living together.

More than 12 million unmarried couples in America do it, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 “America’s Families and Living Arrangements” report. Not all 6 million of these households fare the same. What makes some unmarried couples succeed with cohabitation, while others fail, varies widely among many interchangeable factors. The more of these factors you consider ahead of moving in together, the more likely you are to make the right decision about whether to do it.

Take time before moving in together to sit down with one another and talk about the possibility. One key factor to start with is where to live. Will one of you be moving in with the other, or will you both move out of your respective places and get a new place together? From there, discuss your beliefs and values and ask pertinent questions about living together and your relationship. Think it out and ask yourself questions privately too. Make sure this is really what you want and you are not simply feeling pressured into it. If, after assessing all the factors about moving in together, you both still want to proceed, you can then move forward with confidence.

1. How It May Change Your Relationship

When a boyfriend or girlfriend becomes your domestic partner, much about that relationship can change without you even being aware of it. Chances are, you will see sides of each other you have not yet seen. You will see each other not always looking, feeling or acting the best. Are you ready to accept all of your lover and have him or her see all of you?

2. Taking on New Chores

While living with another person may feel like it ought to make housecleaning and other chores easier, since now there are two of you to do it, you may not always get to do the chores of your choosing. Moreover, any household chore can be more involved in a two-person rather than a one-person household. Cleaning can be more intense as you now have twice the dirt piling up twice as fast.

In addition, each of you will naturally have different levels of acceptable cleanliness. Either one of you will have to step it up to keep the place as clean as the other likes it or the other will have to lower his or her standards of cleanliness. Leaving it to the person who cares most about cleanliness to do the most cleaning, however, is a recipe for resentment.

3. Discovering Each Other’s Irritating Habits

When you go on dates, you typically act on your best behavior, reserving all of your irritating habits for in private. When you live together, your private world and all the habits you hide from your partner are exposed, be that biting your fingernails, passing gas freely or yelling at the television. You may reveal habits your partner finds too irritating to tolerate, or, vice-versa, you may discover a habit in your partner too annoying to bear. Either way, you will either need to find a way to deal with it or end cohabitating and live apart.

It is better to know before it is too late what private habits might reveal themselves in cohabitation that could annoy each other into regretting the decision. For this reason, it may be a good idea, wherever you live, to make sure you can still make the payments if you and your significant other decide living together is not the right move after all. No one wants to be stuck with all of the bills after a breakup.

4. Expectations of Marriage

Unless you have explicitly discussed otherwise, there is generally an expectation when you move in with someone that it will eventually lead to your marriage to that person. It is wise not to assume you are both on the same page where this is concerned and discuss it openly. Are you each interested in ultimately marrying the other person? If not, that does not necessarily preclude living together, as long as you both are clear and in agreement with your mutual expectations moving forward. Do not lead someone on or be led on yourself into thinking cohabitating is leading somewhere it is not.

5. Keeping the Spark Lit

When you live with a partner, it can be easy to take each other for granted and let the fun and excitement of being in a relationship fall by the wayside. That is why, when you cohabitate, you must work harder to keep the spark alive in your relationship. Make sure you both understand this propensity before falling into the trap yourselves. Plan for fun dates out of the home. In addition, find ways to spend time apart now and again, in order to rekindle the passion lit by a lover’s absence. When a relationship suddenly become boring and routine, you know living together has lulled you into a false sense of complacency.

6. Money

One of the more practical considerations before moving in together must be how you will handle your finances as a couple. Will you still maintain separate bank accounts? Will you open a shared account in addition or instead? Who will pay the bills, or who will pay which bills? Will you split all the charges on your bills 50/50? Are you both in agreement about which bills you both want to be responsible for? If, for example, there are subscriptions or services only one of you cares about, is that person comfortable paying for all of it even if the other person benefits from it?

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