And hopefully this concoction doesn't explode...
March 16, 2012 7:40 AM   Subscribe

The BF initiated the moving in together talk. Am I being ridiculous? (Little snowflakey...)

It's me again.

Backstory: Met this guy back in May of last year. We were friends all summer long while I was going through ridiculous bouts of dating. I finally got caught in a crazy love-triangle-like situation back in October, where after consulting MeFi, I decided both of them sucked and went with option C: stay single. Then the dust settled and GuyFriend made a move. Except I never considered dating him at all until said move. Now we're together and happy as can be.

This relationship rocks, even though it's extremely fast moving. I'm almost 32 and he's 38 though, so it just works for us. We're pretty laid back about it all even though it is moving at breakneck pace but it feels right to us both.

At the risk of getting beat up on here (see: fast moving relationship) I could use a little advice. So, we've been dating for a little less than 5 months. Met the parents. Met all the friends. Traveled together. Are totally inseperable. Had the finance talk. Had the values talk. Had the kids talk. Had the past baggage/etc. talk. Check, check, and check - all the Big Deals for me are there. He's an amazing person and I admire so many things and qualities about him. It's great. He's great! Neither one of us is perfect, but we both love and accept each other as we are and honestly, I never knew he was missing from my life until I started dating him. He's awesome.

Anyway, Mr. Awesome BF turned to me the other day and said: " long do you want to let this go until we combine houses?". I am ok with this, or at least I thought I was.

The thing is, we both own our own houses and have both worked our butts off to have said houses and no major debt. We both live in a major city. His place is larger so it makes perfect sense to move in with him. I already voiced my concern about me living there and how we will need to make it my home too (so it doesn't feel like I'm living in HIS house and we can incorporate my stuff too - he said he'd work his darndest to make our house) and how we'd manage bills, etc. - all lights green. I would keep my place but rent it out. I did a ton of research and have appointments with my lawyer and finance lady lined up, insurance coverage is being expanded, condo association is being addressed. Basically our timeline is for me to move out in August or September - plenty of time.

However, what I'm realizing from all this damn research is how complicated things could get if heaven forbid we break up and someone is renting my place. Sure, I'm planning on putting stuff into storage and could always rent another place in a pinch, but still - what a pain in the ass. I lived with a boyfriend about two years ago for three years and we went through an awful break-up and it was utter hell. What I've realized is that I kind of don't want to make the move-in step with current boyfriend unless we're engaged, mostly because there's real estate and real life involved here.

How exactly do I voice this to him without sounding crazy? I don't need to be engaged right now, but don't think I can put myself through that again without knowing that this is the real deal. Am I wrong or old fashioned to think this way? The way things are going, I'm fairly confident that we will get engaged and married eventually and whenever that happens is fine with me. However, I am nervous about this turning into that old relationship where we were stuck in this crappy holding pattern (and I know it won't because current BF is SO different than anyone else I've ever dated). But I don't know how to voice my sillyness of wanting to be engaged before moving in together (because being engaged means just that - we're engaged. Big whoop, right)?

Am I being ridiculous?
posted by floweredfish to Human Relations (31 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Am I wrong or old fashioned to think this way?

Would it matter? Even old-fashioned people deserve to get what they want. And it sounds like you're perfectly clear on what you want. Go ahead and ask for it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:43 AM on March 16, 2012 [11 favorites]

You sound perfectly reasonable. You don't have to move in without a ring if you don't want to. Nothing wrong or even old fashioned. It's simply a preference.
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 7:45 AM on March 16, 2012 [8 favorites]

You are not being ridiculous. Combining houses may look good on paper, but there is an emotional component that just...isn't there for you yet. This is not just a big practical deal, it is a big emotional deal.

Look, "moving in together" just plain means different things for different people. For you, you gotta be engaged. For me, you don't have to be engaged, but it's only one step away. For others, it's about five steps away from engagement. Everyone's different, and that's valid.

And the reason why everyone's different about this is because everyone also has different feelings surrounding trust, permanence, and fidelity when it comes to relationships. I need a bit more time than your boyfriend does before deciding it's time to move in together; that's becuase of my own history, though, and not any good/bad thing. You have your own reasons for deciding when it's time to move in together. These aren't good or bad things, they just are.

However - I would consider your telling your boyfriend about this to be the beginning of the conversation, not the end. Tell him what you feel about this, but also tell him why -- and that will initiate a conversation about the WHY, and together you will both come up with a workable solution. Maybe you'll change your mind about being engaged if he does XYZ, and you'll decide you're comfortable with that. Maybe you'll decide to wait on moving in together for a year. I don't know -- that's something the two of you will have to work out together.

But you are NOT being ridiculous; you have valid feelings and concerns, and you need to tell him what they are so you both can work out how to work WITH them. And, he will also ideally tell you what HIS feelings and concerns are so you can work with those, too.

good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:47 AM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't think you're ridiculous, I think you're reasonable. You'd be making a big show of commitment by moving in, and you seem to want a big show of commitment on his part (as in asking you to marry him).

What I would do is what I did with my boyfriend (now fiance). I'm moving to another country to be with him. Our relationship also moved pretty quickly and we were sure we wanted to be together forever, and we talked in general terms about my moving and how that might all work out, but I felt like I want to be engaged before that happened and he understood. So I got proposed to in January and I'm (hopefully, pending visas) moving over to him this summer.

Maybe you can work something similar with your boyfriend. He's not saying "move in tomorrow", he's saying "How long until you want to move?" Tell him you do want to move in with him, but you want the relationship to be at the point that you're both happy and eager to be engaged and actively/officially/etc planning on getting married. It's not being a crazy lady who wants diamonds in return for moving, it's saying "I want us to have a more solid commitment before we take this next step."

Of course be prepared for him to immediately ask him to marry you. Just in case. And just like not moving in right away, you have every right to say "not right away" to an engagement.
posted by olinerd at 7:47 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't think it is old-fashioned, silly or ridiculous. It is just what you want and is as legitimate as those who DO want to live together before engagement or those who DON'T want to live together until marriage. You fall in the middle..not that it matters!
posted by murrey at 7:47 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you're right to be cautious, but I don't think your metric should be "wait until we're engaged". Engagement is not a binding contract, it's not going to protect you from potentially breaking up. Look at it this way, living with someone is probably the best way to tell whether you're compatible in the long(er) term. Living together prior to being engaged is just as likely to result in a breakup than living together after being engaged. Hell, marriages are not guaranteed to last either.

I'd wait longer to move in together, period. Give it a year or so, then reconsider. You're doing everything right, in terms of the legal issues, but there's no real rush to merge households.

(Disclaimer: My now-fiance moved in with me (in the house I own) 8 months after we started dating. Worked great for us. But we didn't have the reservations you had, unfortunately, because if things had gone south it would have been tricky. We're lucky and in love, but we dodged a bullet.)
posted by lydhre at 7:48 AM on March 16, 2012 [5 favorites]

I've been dating my boyfriend for about how long you've been dating yours. It's different in that we're taking things pretty slow (and we're younger, mid-20s). But I'm no newb to dating and commitment. How our relationship is, it would be a huge mistake to move in together -- NOT because it's "too soon," "too fast," or whatever. But because it's actually a big commitment to each other without actually saying it's a big commitment. Sure, it would be easier for us to live together (and we spend most nights together anyhow). And yeah, I can see myself ending up with this guy in the long run. And it's the absolute best relationship I've had :) But it's just too much unspoken commitment for either of us right now.

To me, it sounds like you're afraid of having that unspoken commitment without having the spoken commitment as well. And that's perfectly fine and reasonable. I think you just need to find a way to state this that will make sense to your boyfriend. The way you explained it above is pretty good, but I'd leave out the ex-boyfriend thing. I'd go with "I really love you and I love this relationship and I love where everything is going. But I've worked damned hard to own my house, and I just am not ready to leave it unless it's to get married. I'm not ready for that of course, so I think for the time being we should keep living in our own houses."

Also as a data point, my uncle recently got married (for the 3rd time) in his 40s. He and his now-wife had their own places, but they didn't move in with each other until they were married -- and they actually had a new place built and sold their old places, so that they could have their place.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:54 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

It isn't silly, you aren't being ridiculous, and given everything you've said, this is an incredibly smart thing you're thinking. All of your considerations are practical, not principled. If someone wouldn't move in with a partner without being engaged even if they were only renting, that might be a couple inches closer to ridiculous, but still not ridiculous.

First, adjust your timeline. Don't make appointments with lawyers or anyone until you've told him this. But tell him more or less what you said here:

You like him, you love the idea of living with him, but you've had some hellish experiences before and you own your own house, you have no debt, and it took a while to reach that place. Look at it this way: Moving in with him is going to involve this:

I did a ton of research and have appointments with my lawyer and finance lady lined up, insurance coverage is being expanded, condo association is being addressed.

and this:

I'm planning on putting stuff into storage and could always rent another place in a pinch, but still - what a pain in the ass.

These are not tiny considerations at all. They're huge! A lot of effort on your part and a lot of uprooting your life and eliminating safety nets. So tell him that you aren't saying this to get a ring out of him but it's just something you know about yourself that before you're ready to make all these changes and put so much on the line, you want to be sure about this, and being engaged would be the step that lets you know that this is really for real and would set your mind at ease.

What's important is that you frame this as the result of your own experience and wanting certainty before you put all of this on the line, and that you would be saying this to anyone you were talking about moving in with - in other words, this has nothing to do with him.

If he's as cool as you believe him to be - and probably he is - I think he'll understand. This may involve postponing the move-in until you're both ready to be engaged, but I don't think that'll be a big issue.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:56 AM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

I just moved in with the boy and we saw a lawyer and got a cohabitation agreement. He has a support obligation from a previous relationship and I wanted to make sure his ex could not get her hands on my money or my stuff (nearly all the now-joint furniture is mine and we opened a joint bank account together). I wanted to make sure that if g-d forbid something happened to him, she could not come take anything away and I would not be on the hook for any money she was getting in support.

It is not romantic to have these sorts of conversations, but we had to sit down and do it the one time. It's worth the peace of mind in knowing that everyone is protected, not just in case of a split but in case of death or accident or somesuch. The lawyer pointed out some helpful stuff for us (for instance, he asked about specific exemptions on the possessions and it turns out he had a few specific things he'd want to go to his son if something happened to him and me likewise).

There were also some non-money things the lawyer pointed out which I had not thought of. I am okay with his family making medical decisions for him for instance, but once the lawyer started talking about power of attorney, it occurred to me that if he were in the hospital it *would* matter that I have full visitation privileges (and he likewise for me) so we added in a clause about that. That is something I would not have thought about had we not gone through the process.
posted by JoannaC at 7:56 AM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Note that the problems of breaking up when engaged are no different than the problems of breaking up when not engaged, except that you also need to cancel a wedding. I think that what you're really saying is that you want to have Lifelong Plans with this partner before moving in together. You want him to put his long term cards on the table, and a chance to sit with them before everyone plays the next hand. That's reasonable.

I did not move in with my SO until everyone was very clear that this was not fucking around and we were there for the long haul. That can happen on almost any timeline, though. We moved in together 9 months after meeting and were engaged 2 or 3 months later, married a year after that. (I think; I'd have to check the timeline with him but it was like All Forward Momentum, All the Time.) Please also note that while that's the opposite of Crappy Holding Pattern, the nature of relationships is that you do eventually reach a state where forward momentum doesn't fuel your days anymore. Make sure you pick someone you know you can be happily bored with, because forever is a really fucking long time if you're lucky!
posted by DarlingBri at 7:59 AM on March 16, 2012 [5 favorites]

Tell him you're pretty scared.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:04 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

You are being sensible. Pay attention to what your brain is telling you. No rush, relax, enjoy what is and don't be in a rush to get to what will be.

Had the finance talk. Had the values talk. Had the kids talk. Had the past baggage/etc. talk. Check, check, and check

I would be careful about this kind of thinking. A lot of this stuff can't be checked off in a conversation. Like the finance talk. There isn't just one kind of finance talk, and unexpected circumstances come along all the time to make new finance talks necessary. Never think you've checked something off a list and can stop thinking/talking about it.
posted by headnsouth at 8:04 AM on March 16, 2012 [9 favorites]

Am I being ridiculous?

The only thing that makes potentially ridiculous is if you believe that a ring somehow makes it less likely that you'll have a horrible breakup in the next few years. It doesn't.

Your question seems to be, "Is it weird that I want to be (at least) engaged before moving in with my boyfriend?" The answer to that is no (although I wouldn't marry someone I hadn't lived with at least a little while.)

The fact that you preface your actual question with lots and lots of (potential and real) drama is not a good sign. Also, dealing with the property issues during a breakup can be greatly compounded if it's accompanied by a divorce.

You just don't sound all that into it.
posted by coolguymichael at 8:19 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd say go for're talking about ~6 mos. now? sounds about right...
it seems your only major concern is what to do if you break up with another tenant renting your about this: rent your house, but not all of it...say, for example, the attic, basement, or garage. that way, you at least have a free 'storage unit' for any time you might spend renting another apartment until your tenants lease is up...
good luck!
posted by sexyrobot at 8:27 AM on March 16, 2012

Think about what you'll say if he says that he's reluctant to get engaged without trying living together first. Because that's a pretty common viewpoint imo.
posted by Perplexity at 8:29 AM on March 16, 2012

I think you should slow down and enjoy the next six months of living in your own place; by next fall you'll have so much more information about whether you're on the road to marriage. Then, of course, you can decide then not to go forward with cohabitation plans if things still feel wrong.

If all of this advance research you've been doing is to manage anxiety, then here's another idea of something to investigate... To assuage your fears about the logistics of reclaiming your apartment if things go south, how might you structure your lease terms accordingly, e.g., month-to-month with 30 days notice by either party, perhaps with an upfront guarantee of, say, six months? Would it help to know that your worst case scenario is 30 days of limbo?
posted by carmicha at 8:36 AM on March 16, 2012

I wouldn't move in with someone I hadn't been dating for at least two years. Nor get engaged to them. It takes that long to get a clear picture of another person.

I don't care how "ridiculous" or "weird" that might seem to Them. (You know, the mythic "them" that walk around in the woods and are Swedish, like in that TV ad for the product whose name escapes me.) Them aren't living my life, I am.
posted by tel3path at 8:38 AM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

All he asked was "how long?" Tell him maybe a year. If you need to give him a concrete reason, tell him that you're not ready for a landlording commitment right now. It's not a minor thing and you shouldn't feel obligated to take that on just because you don't want to hurt his feelings.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:50 AM on March 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

I had the same kind of thoughts as headnsouth; just because you've had values conversations doesn't mean you have all the information. There's a certain realities about people that only comes to light over time once you've established a routine outside the "vroom vroom" infatuation period. I'd say it's wise to agree that cohabitation looks like part of your future, but give the relationship a summer to evolve before putting moving on your calendar. It will give you more time to solidify your independent identity in the relationship before agreeing on that measure of interdependentness.

Putting a "engaged" requirement on it just encourages him to propose right away, which is the opposite of taking it easy and building a strong relationship foundation out of the current state of things. Get comfortable and confident where you are now, *then* work on taking the next step.

(personal context factoring into my caution: I rushed into a previous relationship, ended up divorced. Now in my first serious thing since then, ready to celebrate a year together and I'm moving to a place closer to him, but not in with him. He and I are clearly long-haul, but have independence indexes that put cohabitation in a nebulous, 2-year future. Also, he and I don't want kids, so the "family" track doesn't factor into our outlook, but if you want to have his babies, you might want to consider it in shaping yours)
posted by itesser at 9:07 AM on March 16, 2012

My favorite advice columnist, Carolyn Hax, agrees with you, and I wouldn't describe her as old-fashioned. I disagree with her that people should always wait to move in together, but I do think your feelings are entirely reasonable and valid.
posted by naoko at 10:05 AM on March 16, 2012

Is it possible to do a "trial run" first where you live with him for say, a month, just checking in on your house but living out of his? If you own your house, you won't be losing any money.

I moved in with my partner after 6 months, but we both just had apartments. If we'd had houses I probably would have waited at least a year. Selling/renting your house is a major thing.
posted by nakedmolerats at 10:13 AM on March 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

It seems you are not hung up on the technical of moving in; you paused because the relationship fundamentals is not solid yet. Yes, engagement is just a ritual. However, it is a public announcement of his commitment to build a future with you (and vice versa). In the olden days, public pronouncements have weights: it commits both parties to the promise, and it commits the public to help you both in your endeavor. This is customary. Today, we tend to rely more on laws (marriage certificates) and less on customs (a promisory ring). However, I think the forms does served a function, even if being "old-fashioned" seem derogatory.
A relationship should be built on as firm a foundation as you two could manage; if it is to last. Forget about what's common and what's expected. Do what you feel is necessary and right. Also, don't forget to communicate. It's possible that your boyfriend is not aware of your condition for moving in. Do let him know in a non-demanding way: "gee, I'd love to move in, but I wanted to be engaged before we take that next step".
posted by curiousZ at 10:16 AM on March 16, 2012

Wow - thanks everyone for the great answers. This is such solid advice and I really appreciate it. You're giving me extra things to consider as well which are fantastic.

I think a few of you really hit the nail on the head why I'm feeling like this - it's because renting out my place is a big deal and a big committment on my end (on the same plane of him giving me a ring) - I never really thought of it like that but this makes sense.
posted by floweredfish at 10:24 AM on March 16, 2012

This is a good piece of general life advice: Don't offer or agree to a Big Commitment unless your partner is willing to match it with one of his or her own.

Some events are big commitments for both parties by nature, such as marriage (when done correctly). Others can be very one side and really need to be balanced out, such as renting out your house and putting your relationship at the mercy of his home.

Frankly, if you two were to break up, it would not be as devistating (in a practical and financial sense) for him as it would be for you. If you are being asked to take a big risk, then it is not unreasonable to request that he mitigate some of the risk by demonstrating that he is willing to offer a Big Commitment of his own.

tl;dr: There is nothing wrong with asking for some balance in your relationship.
posted by Shouraku at 12:52 PM on March 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

@Shouraku - I whole heartedly agree. However, what would be a diplomatic way of communicating this?
posted by floweredfish at 1:50 PM on March 16, 2012

Personally? I would either show him what you wrote here, or play the balance card.

"Honey, I am about to make a very big commitment to you and our life togeather and I am very excited to do so! Though, I am also a bit scared at the very big risk that I am taking. It would help ease this transition trmendously if you would also make a big commitment to balance this out"

Then let him make a few suggestions. If he doesn't throw the engagement option out there on his own, then suggest it. Be prepaired to answer to the "loss of freedom" or "OMG maybe she just wants to lock me down. She just wants a husband!" possible irrational fear that may crop up.

In other words, let it be known that to feel comfortable going threw all the effort to move in with him you are going to need a ring, but that does not mean that you are demanding it or need it OMG RIGHT NOW. Just that it is the eventual price of admission for you.
posted by Shouraku at 2:17 PM on March 16, 2012

I know his place is larger, but does it change how you feel if he moves into your place?
posted by AnnaRat at 2:52 PM on March 16, 2012

I, too, was struck by how much drama surrounds your question.

I have this feeling that making the engagement/big commitment a prerequisite of your moving in puts a weird, somewhat unnatural pressure on the relationship. There's nothing at all wrong with wanting the relationship to evolve into a more serious plane before making this kind of commitment, but I think you've over-emphasized how much talking you've done/compatibility/happiness and under-emphasized that you're still in a very young relationship. And thus the commitment of engagement becomes more important because it's kind of filling a gap that might not be there if the relationship was more... seasoned.

I hope that makes sense, and isn't insulting in some way, because I'm also in a kind of whirlwind-y thing myself.

Question: do you even know whether he wants to get married, or whether he sees that as an important step? That was the one "check check check" I didn't see, and really, your question kind of hinges on that, doesn't it?
posted by sm1tten at 4:06 PM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

> Question: do you even know whether he wants to get married, or whether he sees that as an important step? That was the one "check check check" I didn't see, and really, your question kind of hinges on that, doesn't it?

Yeah, the "forever?" conversation is pretty important, and I too am interested in why this conversation wasn't "checked" off.

My SO and I have been together for almost two years and have been living together for a year. We have, on many occasions, discussed our level of commitment and have both affirmed that we want to grow old together. But we're in no rush to get engaged. We both have goals we want to achieve before we get married and we both agreed that we don't want a long engagement. Because he's demonstrated to me (and my very important family) such level of commitment and sincerity of love, I don't a need a ring or a public pronouncement of his commitment to me.

> Note that the problems of breaking up when engaged are no different than the problems of breaking up when not engaged, except that you also need to cancel a wedding.

Exactly. You can get engaged tomorrow, move in together on Sunday, and it could still not work out. To me it sounds like you don't think he's 100% committed to you, and that's a problem.
posted by OsoMeaty at 6:39 PM on March 16, 2012

Just break it to him as you did to us. It's fine.

I may be biased because for years, my stance was the same: I don't want to move in unless we're ready to get engaged. I heard a similar story from a friend of a friend last week. What you want is completely normal.
posted by salvia at 2:28 AM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

What's the harm in waiting until the fall? I remember asking an ex to move in a few years ago and I'm glad she didn't 'cos things didn't work out, despite us having checked off numerous "talks" off the list. I also remember having a few of those talks in bed and I really doubt the sincerity of anything said in bed. I don't think I'd consider cohabitation so early again, given the incredible prize you've already won having paid off a house at 32.

The only way I'd approach this problem if I ever manage to date again would be to find a new place to move into rather than into one partner's place. Seems like the easiest way to have a level playing field and an equally shared risk.
posted by glip at 7:33 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

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