Moving in with an S.O. - General advice
October 30, 2008 11:36 AM   Subscribe

Moving in with your significant other: Please tell me your stories and general advice. Good, bad, things you wish you'd talked about ahead of time, things you'd do differently. How long had you been together? Do you wish you'd moved in sooner, or later, or not at all? What can one do to make things go smoothly? What changes should I expect?

My S.O. and i are making the leap to move in together in the very near future, so I'd love any general advice and wisdom about how things worked or didn't work for y'all.

I'd like to hear as general advice as possible, but here's our particular story:

I'm in my mid-twenties, and he's in his early 30s, and we've been together for 8 months. Neither of us have lived with an S.O., but we've essentially been staying at one another's apartments every night for much of our relationship. Both of us have had a half dozen different long-term committed relationships in the past.

He brought up moving in together about 2 months ago, and my current living situation (pest problem & unresponsive roommates/landlord) makes me want to move ASAP. He's looking for a better commute and a more financially sustainable rent. We love each other and both feel like it's the right step. Also, we currently live on opposite sides of the city and the commute/transit time has been a time/energy suck day-to-day.

We found the ideal apartment much quicker than expected, so it feels like it's happening pretty fast. I really haven't had many moments of doubt or fear about this - I love him and it feels like the right choice. But I'm worried that I'm NOT more nervous or questioning of it?

We've talked through a lot of my concerns about moving in, and we're on the same page about the relationship side of things - both acknowledging this is a deeper commitment, but unsure what we want in life marriage/familywise. In two years we both hit a point in our careers where we'll have to make changes, and choose if we want move to a different city together.

$$ and other things: We agreed to split the rent equitably according to our minor income difference, and have come up with a "what-happens-if-we-break-up" apartment plan. Neither of us are really homebodies, but he's in academia and hence does work outside of 9-5 often. Our levels of messiness-tolerance are comparable. He has a cat, and cat likes me.

So - that's that. What's your experience been like, and what advice would you give to a person diving into this for the first time?
posted by soleiluna to Human Relations (40 answers total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
Perhaps unwisely (even though we are still going strong after 3 years) we moved in together after 3 months. We were together all the time anyway, so it just made sense. The biggest change in my mind is integrating the minutiae of life. For example, I'm a little bit of a neat freak and want to clean now and my partner likes to take her time and get to it when she gets to it. Those kind of little differences might be completely invisible before you live together.

Good luck!
posted by zennoshinjou at 11:39 AM on October 30, 2008

It really sounds like you have everything under control. Really. Practicality is key. Living with my (now -ex) boyfriend was really not great, because we didn't cover the practical issues before moving in together. We were both very young (although we had been together 7 years) and we knew that this was a make or break situation. And it broke. I'm not sure it could have been prevented. But you are both aware that this is a deeper commitment, so you all seem to want to make it work, and that's what's important.
posted by greta simone at 11:42 AM on October 30, 2008

You're both going into it with the right attitude, so there's no reason it shouldn't work wonderfully, while you work out where you want to go next. The biggest issue is the little things. Cleaning, shopping, laundry. Making sure bills are paid. Money in general. Be prepared to compromise, but don't let one person end up doing all the work.

The other thing to be aware of is complacency. When you see each other every day and every night, it is wonderful - but after a while, wonderful becomes well, kinda expected. Try to avoid taking each other for granted, and keep an eye on if you're slipping into too much of a habit over things. Doing the same things in the same order week in, week out, for example. You need to keep doing special things for each other.

The main thing though? Be prepared to talk things out. Moving in together is a much bigger committment to each other timewise, and the littlest thing can drive you utterly nuts after 6 months of it. Tackle things that frustrate you early, and keep things in the open as much as possible. Don't sit and steam, and don't snap if your partner doesn't read your mind. The same goes for him too. Communication, or the lack of it, makes or breaks living together. By the sounds of it though, you have that well handled. Congrats!
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:53 AM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


(I bookmarked these because I'm moving in with my SO next month. And congrats!)
posted by matildaben at 11:57 AM on October 30, 2008 [3 favorites]

I moved in with my now-husband after awhile -- we went to college together and dated throughout all 4 years. After college, we moved in together. I think the main issues in order of importance were:

1. Make sure you both really understand the $$$ stuff. Not just rent, but all shared bills and shared expenses like groceries, home goods, etc. Also, is one of you a cheapskate who buys no-frills 1-ply toiletpaper while the other likes the triple-thick Cottonelle with lotion in it?

2. CHORES. My now-husband and I took way too long to actually discuss a fair breakdown of chores, and this was a huge "thing" for us. Basically, everyone grows up with certain expectations about chores ... even people who seem normal may have strange hang-ups about what they think is fair. For example, most people (I thought) think it's fair that whoever cooks doesn't have to do the dishes. My husband used to think that the person who cooks SHOULD have to do the dishes, because they made the food that created the mess. Anyway ... we worked this out (eventually), but the point is that you need to communicate early on with regards to who is supposed to do what. Are you going to take turns cooking dinner? What if it's his turn to cook and you don't like what he made? What if one of you goes on a special diet, are you going to cook yourselves separate meals? Also, think about how often you each expect things to get done. It can be a source of conflict if one of you thinks it's important to have clean towels everyday and the other things it's fine to wait a week or two.

3. Schedules. Do you expect him to call you if he's going to be out late and vice versa, so one of you isn't waiting around all night? Do you both get ready for work at the same time? Who gets dibs on the shower first? Stuff like that.
posted by tastybrains at 11:58 AM on October 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

We moved in together after the first date. (Atypical, I know. I still pay rent on my old apartment but haven't been there in more than five months).

It sounds to me that you're doing it all right. If you're already staying over every night, you're pretty much there.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:00 PM on October 30, 2008

Best answer: Having been opposed to pre-marital cohabitation -- for reasons to do with individual personal development and zero to do with morality -- and then doing it myself even though I knew it was a bad idea at the time, and then having that end badly, right on cue... I'm still mostly opposed to the concept. But I realize it's the right thing for some couples, and a very common decision.

The specific lessons I learned from my own situation, and wish I'd done differently:

- Neither of us had "our own space," a time/space/situation where we could go to be alone.

- We didn't plan for the bills/utilities/financial obligations to be distributed in a satisfactory, equitable way.

- We didn't have a plan for other expenses: toiletries, sundries, groceries, minor household repairs, etc. (This wasn't so much about having the money, it was about who paid, and when and how. There is no resentment like the resentment of the roommate who has to continually purchase the item that the other roommate thoughtlessly always consumes and never replaces. This doesn't change when the roommate is also your lover.)

- Not everyone in our lives knew we were cohabiting, and having to keep that secret became a Three's Company-worthy set of foibles. (This was before cell phones became super-common, so there was the "DONTANSWERITSMYNANA!!!!" but there were other logistics challenges too.)

The general lesson I learned was that moving in together isn't just a step in the romantic relationship; it's also a business and financial arrangement. Commingling one's romance and one's finances and household can create a lot of strains that wouldn't ordinarily be on the table, and which can sabotage the whole affair.

But I wholly agree that you sound like you've covered your bases and have a really clear head about all this. The one question I would recommend asking yourself:

If money and rent were no object - would you still be doing this?

In other words, if your own living scenario were optimal... if his rent were more affordable... if you take out all the possible financial benefits that you will realize... would you still be making this move?
posted by pineapple at 12:02 PM on October 30, 2008 [6 favorites]

(Also, I don't mean you need to answer that here, to us! Just that it's a question worth having an inner dialogue over, with your shoulder angel and shoulder devil's advocate.)
posted by pineapple at 12:05 PM on October 30, 2008

Are you morning or night people? Who needs more space/time alone? How are you going to acommodate this and carve out your own niches in the apartment? What things will drive you crazy (dirty socks on the floor, etc)?

Go shopping together for household items. He may say he doesn't care about the curtains or the dishes, but I bet he has an opinion once he's in the store. Letting my now-husband have a voice in the decorating made it OUR place, not just mine.

The most important (and hardest) thing for me was to remember to act as a TEAM. It wasn't HIS laundry and MY laundry, it was OUR laundry and it needed to get done. It's OUR garbage and it needs to get taken out regardless of who does it. Don't keep score or you'll drive yourself nuts. Get a whiteboard, slap it on the fridge and write down a list of tasks for either of you to do when you have time.
posted by desjardins at 12:05 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

My now wife and I moved in together after 3 months of dating. Neither of us had lived with a SO before and we were in our mid 20s each. This was done because she was living at home and all-nighters regularly were frowned upon by her family so it seemed more convenient.

It was a nightmare.

Neither of us was really ready for living together, and though we moved into an apartment together as it sounds like you are doing, it was not big enough for us each to have our own space.

My bachelor style living disagreed with her, her decorating disagreed with me. While we were compatible during the day and I enjoyed coming home to see her, sometimes it was TOO MUCH togetherness.

After about a month, before she was actually fully moved in, I asked her to move back out. In fact, it was the moving in of heavy furniture that precipitated it. Faced with even more decorating in the form of her furniture mixing with mine in the bedroom, I couldn't take it.

It wasn't so much the personality, as I said before, it was the actual mechanics of each of us "nesting" in this new space and not having clearly defined boundaries of what was who's and neither of us comfortable with the decisions of the other in that regard.

Now as I said, she's now my wife. Things DID work out. She stayed with me a bit longer, a few weeks, then got an apartment with a friend of hers. While I wasn't sure the relationship would survive me asking her to move out, it did and we still dated (though it was tentative at first). Slowly she more naturally started to stay over and things went at a better pace. She got a drawer to keep stuff in, and eventually stayed over most nights. A larger bed was purchased since I had only a twin originally. And when her six month lease was up, we'd been dating about 10 months at that point, I invited her to move back in. She really hadn't slept at her apartment in 2 months by then, it was just a place to keep her junk.

She moved in. 2 years later, married.
posted by arniec at 12:08 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah...and married 6 years now and counting
posted by arniec at 12:08 PM on October 30, 2008

Best answer: Have a frank conversation about finances ahead of time and be very clear about how/who will pay for what. Though you are in love and happy, you'll save yourself many problems down the road if you are clear about how that goes.

Set up a credit card or bank account just for shared home expenses, then pay half the bill/deposit the same amount every month. If there is a significant discrepancy in how much each of you earn, then discuss that and reach an equitable solution (e.g. if you make 10k a month and your SO makes 1k a month perhaps you should each contribute an equal percentage of your income to household expenses rather than equivalent dollar amounts- but that is up to you and your SO).

Decide what is going to be done about cleaning. Are you both clean freaks? Are you both really messy? If there is any difference between your preferences in this regard, I have one suggestion: pay a cleaning service. We have had a lovely lady help us 1x weekly for the last 1.5 years and we've never been happier. No bickering over the dishes or who vacuumed the rug, problem solved! Really, the dollars you spend on the cleaner will be more than worth it with the aggravation you save yourself.

Finally, find a way to make an accommodation for each other. As Kahlil Gibran famously said (and I think I've quoted in the green at least once previously):

"...let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.”

(Basically, make sure you each have your own drawers in the closet and all will be well.)
posted by arnicae at 12:18 PM on October 30, 2008 [5 favorites]

Things not to do:
  • Fight about money. (Everyone says this because it's true.)
  • Move in with one or more roommates who don't much care for you, even if it's temporary.
  • House your SO's 20-something fresh-outta-the-Navy brother and his fiance who is locked in some kind of weird passive-aggressive rage thing with your SO for one to three months.
  • Take in your SO's 16-year-old brother because his crazy parents can't handle him.
  • Fail to get rid of said teenager once it becomes apparent that he's a miserable, confused little shit who will drink your liquor and fight constantly with your SO.
In other words, be smarter than me. Which, in retrospect, shouldn't be too hard.
posted by brennen at 12:22 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

There are lots of specific pieces of advice people have given, but in general it's just about your attitude. You're giving up a lot. Just understand that and appreciate the fact that you now get to sleep in the same bed and share space.

Four pieces of advice that will make all the bullshit seem unimportant:
1. If it's important, talk about it sooner rather than later.
2. Don't go to bed angry. Ever.
3. Get the smallest bed you can stand.
3. Have sex even when neither of you want to.
posted by paanta at 12:41 PM on October 30, 2008 [6 favorites]

Do it.

After 5 years, you'll realize marriage is really just a business arrangement, and if you wanted to you could move out with your finances in tact. Or, you can stick with it without penalty.

But, here are some general tips:

  • don't give a shit about the toilet seat being up. It doesn't matter. Just let it go.

  • Buy what you want to eat. Let him put what he wants in the cart/basket, or let him go shopping for himself. Do not force your likes and dislikes onto him.

  • It doesn't matter if he goes out with his friends. Just relax and watch a movie.

  • Clean up all the time - it will guilt him into cleaning up also. If he doesn't clean, just clean more. Eventually, the obviousness of his disregard will become to much to bear, and he will clean, or you can leave him.

  • If you don't give it up every night, he will whack off. Just close the door and don't worry about it.

  • If you don't give it up for more than a week at a time, he will go elsewhere, which may be to your dismay.

  • Never let him raise his voice to you, or become violent. The very first time this happens, kick him out or leave. It will not get better.

  • But, the #1 cardinal rule of living together is this: Don't do annoying shit. Or, a better way of looking at it is everything that you do, think to yourself "would this be really fucking annoying to me if he did it?"
    posted by plexi at 12:52 PM on October 30, 2008 [6 favorites]

    Lots of good advice here. My now-husband practically moved in with me after our first date, but we formally got an apartment together after about 4 months of dating. That was over 5 years ago and we got married in September, so I guess it worked out.

    It wasn't HIS laundry and MY laundry, it was OUR laundry and it needed to get done. Funny, we still do our laundry separately. And that's ok, because that's what works for us (He's afraid to ruin my work clothes, I can never tell which piles of his on the closet floor are clean and which are dirty.) Until about 18 months ago, we didn't have any joint accounts, and other than rent, we don't divvy up the bills every month. We just kind of split them up so he pays cable + internet, cell phones (family plan) and gas, and I pay electric, phone, and car + insurance in a way that is, on average, pretty even. We just take turns paying for groceries or going out to eat or whatever. Again, it's informal and people that need more structure would probably go crazy. But for us it works.

    The one thing that was a big stumbling block for us was chores and cleaning. The only reason it has become less of a struggle even now is that I've lowered my standards for a clean house. He just doesn't need to clean as much as I wanted to, and me doing the cleaning made me silently resent him. Over time, we've come to an equilibrium and I've noticed that now if I start cleaning, he'll usually stop what he's doing and start helping without my asking. That's good enough for me.

    Staying out of a rut takes effort. You end up sitting in front of the TV stuffing dinner down your faces with barely a grunt to each other if you're not careful. Take time to eat dinner at the table at least a few days a week, with the TV off.
    posted by misskaz at 12:53 PM on October 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

    Don't stop going out on dates.
    posted by rokusan at 12:55 PM on October 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

    Yeah, get rid of the cable and rent movies instead. It made a HUGE improvement in our level of intimacy (emotional and physical). It's much easier to decide on things and start good habits now than to wish you had a year later. If his socks on the floor really bother you, SAY SOMETHING NOW instead of in six months when he's so used to it that it's difficult for him to remember.

    The laundry thing was an example and YMMV. The salient point was that you are now a team, rather than completely separate entities who happen to share the same dwelling. Attack housework together.
    posted by desjardins at 1:23 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

    Response by poster: Thanks for all of the super useful comments! Keep them coming!

    I'm debating sharing this with the S.O. - not sure what he'd say to me asking the internet for advice...but your answers have been incredibly good :)
    posted by soleiluna at 1:30 PM on October 30, 2008

    Living with my boyfriend was one of the easiest roommate situations I ever had, because we got along really well, we're both laid back when it comes to minor irritations, and were really good about giving each other space and equally dividing up expenses, chores, etc. Not to mention we loved spending time together.

    That said, we thought we were heading toward marriage, so way too soon after we moved in together we started buying things jointly... not just little things, but a bed, a couch, an entertainment center, surround sound, oh not to mention our dog... after living together for 3 years, very few pieces of furniture were "just mine" or "just his". Most were "ours"... everything was more affordable that way, and it felt like we were planning for "our future".

    ... and then I realized that I didn't really want to marry him. Hardest break up of my life.

    Not because he made it hard or because it was messy. It wasn't at all... it was hard because for 6 months I tried to talk myself out of it... breaking up with him not only meant losing a boyfriend, but it meant losing a place to live, and having to divide up all of our belongings and our dog.

    None of these are good reasons to stay in a relationship that isn't what you want in the long run... but all of these reasons make it REALLY hard to leave.

    So. Part of me believes I shouldn't move in with a SO again until we get engaged. But even that is no guarantee, and I did like the arrangement so much that I could easily see myself considering it again in the future. However. This time, there would be no big joint purchases until we were engaged and planning to spend our life together. That way I would still have MY stuff and he would still have HIS stuff, and a break up would feel much less like a divorce.
    posted by veronicacorningstone at 1:32 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

    Make sure you still are able to maintain your alone time/space. Mrs. Silvertree is very good at recognizing when I just have to be left alone. I didn't even realize it myself until one day she pointed out I just need 30 minutes when I get home to unwind relax. Even if we are together in the room, she let's me "be alone" with what I am doing when I need it. Fantastic. We have lived together for about 7 years, married for two.

    I on the other try to do things she likes, at least once a week. By that I mean leave a note in her pocket that I says I love her, surprise her with dinner, or take care of the chores she normally does in addition to my own. That kind of thing.

    Really though, I haven't seen better advice then take every as a team. Even if you don't get joint accounts, do laundry together or what have you, you are still living as a team. Try to remember that.

    And really, even though this might sound trite, communicate. Don't wait until it is driving you crazy to mention something.

    Good luck! There will be a few bumps I am sure but enjoy the new adventure!
    posted by Silvertree at 1:38 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

    paanta: 3. Get the smallest bed you can stand.

    This is a very small point but I have to disagree with this statement whole-heartedly.

    It was the best decision ever for my SO and I to splurge & get a king size bed. We both sleep so much better now, I swear it impacts the quality of the relationship.
    posted by crunchtopmuffin at 2:54 PM on October 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

    My best advice is to remember that roommate issues are not relationship issues. When you see roommate issues (the dishes. the rent) encroaching on your relationship, it is time to take a deep breath and address them in terms of being roommates.
    posted by mynameisluka at 3:09 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

    Your SO is more than a room-mate, more of a life partner. This puts more onus on you to go beyond carrying your share of the load. Eg. one thing I regret in retrospect is not getting my lazy ass out of bed when my SO was going off to work in the early AM and I had to work some hours later. As room-mates, that's cool, but not cool for a partner to do.
    posted by troy at 3:20 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

    "Set up a credit card or bank account just for shared home expenses, then pay half the bill/deposit the same amount every month."

    I love this advice. Awesome idea.
    posted by gjc at 3:35 PM on October 30, 2008

    Best answer: I had a really long answer typed up, and lost it. But I think what I said can be reduced to "make living together fun."

    You aren't being forced to do this -- it's a choice, just like dating this person is a choice. There are going to be good moments and terrible moments. But if living together isn't fun and exciting and pleasurable, then what's the point?

    The specifics of this will vary depending on the people involved, but might include date nights, not dressing like a slob 24/7, making the other person's favorite dinner every so often, and doing nice things (like taking care of one of the chores you've defined as "his" for him as a surprise once in a while) just because it makes him smile.

    Things like chores and bills are the things you take care of in order to live together, not the essence of living together. Keep the focus on the good stuff, which means finding ways to get the mandatory stuff taken care of with as little fuss and conflict as possible.
    posted by Forktine at 5:12 PM on October 30, 2008 [5 favorites]

    Realize that stupid stuff will likely irritate you. Resolve to not let it get to you, or if it really is an issue, talk about it soon. He hated the way I folded towels. He wouldn't let me even see the bills. He didn't like that I hung the dish rag on the kitchen faucet.

    And uhh yeah, he's my ex. But I must say, thank goodness for deciding to live in sin before the wedding. Saved me lots of heartache and quite probably single motherhood. WHEW.

    (PS This was after about 6 and a half yrs of dating. You just don't know what you don't know til ya know, you know? ;) )
    posted by CwgrlUp at 5:26 PM on October 30, 2008

    See answers to my similar q here.
    posted by lalochezia at 5:46 PM on October 30, 2008

    The great part about living with a partner is that you get to share everything with one another. The shitty part about living with a partner is that you get to share everything with one another. True story.

    It's important to not be so in love that you forget to be practical, and it sounds like you guys are doing a good job here. It sounds like you guys communicate well, also. Make sure to talk about roommate issues as they are fresh. This doesn't mean right that second necessarily, but later in the day, that night before bed, the next day at lunch, etc. It might seem silly for a seemingly-perfect couple to bicker for a couple minutes about what to do about The Full Fucking Dishwasher, but if you knock it out early, it won't be an Official Problem later on.

    Another point that goes along with that is to pick your mofo battles. Maybe you don't like socks thrown all over the room, and maybe he doesn't like makeup in the sink. Worth bringing up? Probably not. If you guys make it, you might just grow to love those balled up socks. He'll get to them eventually (just like you will with your makeup, hopefully).

    I really like paanta's advice above:

    2. Don't go to bed angry. Ever.
    3. Have sex even when neither of you want to.

    except I'd combine these two. When you're angry with someone you're in love with, you are sitting on a golden opportunity for REALLY awesome sex. If you're still angry afterwards, have another go.
    posted by littlelebowskiurbanachiever at 5:50 PM on October 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

    Hooray for compatible views towards finances, cleaning tolerance, compatible daily schedules, and a willingness to grow your lives together, agreement on kids/animals/lifestyle, but please....find out before moving in if your SO has significant kinks, and if he'll expect to lie ato you and use you as a transition into a full-time lifestyle. It would have saved me a great deal of mental hellfire.
    posted by grippycat at 6:25 PM on October 30, 2008

    I really like paanta's advice above:

    2. Don't go to bed angry. Ever.
    3. Have sex even when neither of you want to.

    except I'd combine these two. When you're angry with someone you're in love with, you are sitting on a golden opportunity for REALLY awesome sex. If you're still angry afterwards, have another go.

    Repeated for emphasis. Treat moving in together as the moment to take your sex life to a new level. Don't let familiarity breed contentment (much less contempt) -- keep pushing the boundaries and don't let things settle into dullness.

    More importantly, don't let the inevitable tensions over dirty dishes, finances, or laundry interfere with that white-hot sex life you'll have gotten going in your new place. Take those tensions, and turn them into those good sex endorphins.

    Afterward, the dishes will still be dirty and he will still be a big jerkypants, but at least you'll both feel great and maybe in the morning you can find a compromise.

    (Also, "don't go to be angry" should not be understood as "have all your big arguments late at night in bed when you are tired and have a headache." It means find a way to take a deep breath, set aside the anger, and enjoy the bedtime snuggling, rather than lay in bed tense and angry, elbowing him to keep him awake and angry too. There's lots of time to sort out the issues, small and big; don't ruin bedtime too often with big arguments.)
    posted by Forktine at 7:22 PM on October 30, 2008 [3 favorites]

    I moved in with my husband (well, obviously we were dating at the time) after we'd been together about two years. We were in college, but our second year each of us needed to stay in town during the summer for jobs. Since we weren't taking classes, we couldn't stay in the dorms, and it just made sense to move in together.

    We wouldn't have done it if we hadn't already been seeing each other nearly 24/7 and staying in each other's rooms anyway, though. Seriously, unless one of us was in class, we were with each other the whole time. So we weren't worried about moving in together, because we already were really.

    That's just being sure you get along and don't suffocate the other, though. The other aspect is money. If you have a workable arrangement, cool. I don't think it matters terribly much what it is as long as you're both okay with it. Neither of us care much about money, so when I made more money I paid more for things, and when he was making more money he paid more for things. That included rent and bills, food, any electronic equipment we wanted to buy, etc. Since we do everything together we don't feel like we're sacrificing money to spend it on the other, we're spending it on ourselves. It's not the end of the world if one or both of you have issues with fairness or keeping what you earn for yourself, or worries about someone mooching, though, you just make sure you're clear on it. What I am saying, though, is if you know already that neither of you care much, things will probably be simpler.

    You have similar tolerances for messiness, so that's great.

    If you're curious we lived together for four years before getting married. There's no rush for that. I would advice you to keep renting unless/until you decide to get married, though, because buying a house together will be messier in the legal sense.

    From your post, really, it sounds like you'll be fine.
    posted by Nattie at 7:41 PM on October 30, 2008

    I'm debating sharing this with the S.O. - not sure what he'd say to me asking the internet for advice...

    If this is an issue, please print out this thread and let him read it in his own time. Nothing so awkward as making someone sit, pretending to enjoy staring at a monitor while you're standing behind him saying, "Look, that's a good one, right?" and him replying, "Which one? ... wait, I'm reading this other one, ... where are you anyway? ... look, I don't read as fast as you, OK?"
    posted by JimN2TAW at 6:31 AM on October 31, 2008 [2 favorites]

    For what it's worth, here's what I learned (the hard way): you shouldn't think about cohabitation as the natural, inevitable next step in a romantic relationship; you should instead think about it as the penultimate step before marriage. Are you absolutely ready to settle down with your soon-to-be-roommate roommate? If your answer is no, or even if your answer is "not sure," then be careful. Normal breakups suck, but they become significantly more painful when you're both under the same roof arguing over who gets to keep the coffee table. You should also recognize that once you move in, you are also giving up your ability to explore other possibilities (again, a lesson learned the hard way). Do you feel like you've had enough serious relationships to know what you want, and to be sure that you won't be tempted by something new or different?

    Speaking as a married guy, the practicalities and efficiencies of cohabitation are great. However, I didn't get married in order to save money on the rent or to make the commute to my (now) wife shorter, and I would counsel anyone considering cohabitation not to overemphasize these factors either.
    posted by hawkeye at 6:51 AM on October 31, 2008 [2 favorites]

    We moved in at 6 months--actually spent our first night here on our anniversary. It was really rushed because we were escaping his roommates, who hated me being there. It's been two months now, and I'm completely thrilled.

    Basically, nothing is "mine," everything is "ours." Our laundry is in the same hamper and our books are all mixed up on the shelves. Our toiletries are fighting for the little space in the bathroom (hes not girly, its just a REALLY teeny bathroom). I hear him fart, and he's heard me (ack).

    If you're ready these will all sound great to you.

    Finances are pretty easy for us--he tries to pay for everything despite the fact that he has less money, and I bully my way into about half. Sometimes his chivalry gets in the way of the Teamwork, but I think I've kept up a good 50/50 ratio of expenses.

    We don't go to bed upset, we make sure we have time every single night to spend together doing nothing, we spend a lot of time in bed because we're poor and haven't turned on the heat yet. I wake up early with him and make coffee so he can get to his early classes, and he does the same for me.

    There are no real rules, you just need to be considerate of another human besides yourself, in every application of your life. And it's okay, because they do the same for you.
    posted by shadowfelldown at 9:14 AM on October 31, 2008

    Matildaben: for what it's worth, I wrote the second question, it went fine and we're married now :)
    posted by altolinguistic at 10:26 AM on October 31, 2008

    Oh, and: I wholeheartedly second the advice I got in my thread about finding a place to live that was ours (I initially moved into his place and while it all worked out in the end, it was pretty damn crowded for a while). That, and the enormous bed. Then again we haven't moved since we bought the 6' mattress that only just fit up the stairs...
    posted by altolinguistic at 10:35 AM on October 31, 2008

    I recently moved in with my SO and I was kind of freaked out about it too. I hadn't lived with anyone without being engaged or married and was nervous that it was a bad move. He moved in 2 months ago and I think the prep we did before the move has helped a lot.

    Everyone says to have a frank discussion about money and they are right. This can be an awkward conversation, but it is more awkward if you wait for a problem to discuss it. In our case we listed all our expenses and decided what was mine, his, and ours. For example, the costs of feeding and caring for his cats are his and not mine. I have a mortgage so we discussed how we'd split those costs and what would happen if we broke up or if we sold the condo some day. We wrote all these details down so we can refer to it later.

    Discussing worst-case scenarios was helpful too. What will happen if you break up? How would you handle ending the lease? Who will stay? How long will you give the other to find another place and move out? Would it be okay for them to find someone to sublease the apartment or not?

    We didn't talk enough about household tasks. Household tasks include cleaning and cooking and shopping and all the other maintenance things you can think of. We did decide he has to clean up after the cats, but we didn't discuss how we keep the entire place clean. His job has been brutal lately so I've given him a pass on the fact that the division of work at home isn't equal, but once his job normalizes, that will end because I know this will drive me nuts if I don't. I started using a task checklist on the fridge to prepare for the discussion.

    As I write this, I think, Jeez! I'm rigid! And I am, but he likes because/in spite of it and if I prepare for the things I worry about I am less worried and nicer to be around. Plus, these frank discussions were a good opportunity to see how he handled frank discussions.

    Here are the things you're doing right: You're thinking ahead. You realize that it won't be perfect and you're doing something to avoid the pitfalls.

    Best wishes for a successful co-habitation experience!
    posted by k8to at 3:11 PM on October 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

    Oh, and we do the joint bank account thing with debit cards and each put in $XXX each pay period and pay for our joint stuff with that. It is working well. I see it as practice for marriage, when we'll probably be mixing a lot more money. Other people think it is odd. I don't understand why.
    posted by k8to at 3:17 PM on October 31, 2008

    Also, is one of you a cheapskate who buys no-frills 1-ply toiletpaper while the other likes the triple-thick Cottonelle with lotion in it?

    Ha . . . I had a roommate who would buy a 4 pack of the cheap stuff (after my 12-pack of the nice stuff ran out.) Then when the crap she bought ran out, like 4 days later, she would expect me to buy again. Charming. But true, this is stuff you gotta consider.

    I moved in with a boyfriend a couple years ago and it did not work out. What basically happened is it was convenient, and I had a sort of throw-caution-to-the-wind attitude. I figure it would work out or not, and if not, better to know now than later. Not that I would recommend that approach. As you might have guessed, it did not work out. And now that my current SO has been bringing this idea up, I've really been trying to pinpoint all the things that did and did not work the first time around.

    Here is the main reason it didn't work:
    - Deep down I don't think either of us was ready to think about marriage. Even though we started the same way as you, splitting things, school ended up costing a LOT MORE for me than I had planned for, and he ended up having to cover the rent a couple times. We ended up in a misunderstanding where I thought him saying 'don't worry about it" meant don't worry about it because i'm your boyfriend and it's cool. what he meant was, don't worry about it right now, you can pay me back later. what i'm getting at is . . . if the finances do become lopsided, are you dealing with it like roommates, where one owes the other? or are you dealing with it like a couple trying to build a life together (all the money is going toward the greater good that is our relationship)? For this reason alone, I've decided that I am not going to live with anyone unless we are either engaged, or otherwise pretty damn sure it's heading that way. Not because I am desperate to get married (quite the opposite) or because I am so moralistic (ha.) I guess I just think that living together basically FEELS like being married, so if you're going to treat it like a roommate situation it can get a little hairy when emotions become involved. once it dawned on me that I was pretty sure i did NOT want to marry this guy, i felt terribly guilty because by agreeing to live together, i think he took it as a sign that i WAS thinking marriage. this is why i broke it off, because i felt like i was leading him on unfairly.

    a couple other things . . . you may not like to think about this, but be careful to consider what will happen if you do split up. i recommend taking turns making big purchases, rather than buying them together. that way you know whose stuff is what. and don't get a pet together! the hardest thing for my ex when he moved out wasn't losing me, it was losing my dog :) but it was MY dog, not his, I had her before we got together. I can't imagine how we would have settled it if we had gotten her together. If you do decide to get a pet while living together, it should still be primarily ONE of yours.

    If you can, go for a 2 BR or one BR with office. this way if one of you needs space, you got it. and more importantly, in the unfortunate scenario that it doesn't work out, then you can move into the other bedroom while you sort out the details. I had to do this and thank god we had a second room.

    Lastly, what everyone else said. Don't assume things will just work out naturally. They might, but cover your ass by talking about as much stuff as you can possibly think of BEFORE you move in. communication is key.
    posted by lblair at 10:32 AM on December 15, 2008

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