Question about anxiety surrounding moving in together?
November 23, 2016 7:12 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend and I are planning to move in together over the next couple months. This has been a little while in the making. Please help me resolve my anxiety surrounding it.

Aaaaaaand the backstory:

SO (26F) and I (28M) have been dating for two years. Met online, but with friends in common (that we found out about afterwards) and generally it's been a really good and exciting relationship. While we had a great connection at the start, we've grown much closer over the course of our time together. There have been a few speed bumps, but the relationship overall feels solid and good and I definitely don't want it to end.

The issue of living together has been a stressor from time to time - essentially she has been interested in cohabiting since about the one year mark, where as I've taken a bit longer to come around to the idea. From my side, I've mostly lived in shared houses, with or without partners, for the last ten years, and only got my own apartment about 6 months before we started dating. So being able to explore having my own furniture! my own food! walking around buck naked if I feel like it! as clean or messy of an apartment as I want! has been really great for me and given me the opportunity to clarify what's important to me and what I value in a living space, which I haven't had before.

It's worth saying that I've had a history of being varyingly commitment phobic, although (imo) I've been figuring that out, and this relationship and SO have been great for breaking down some of those walls and helping me to enjoy being in love with someone without stressing about the what-ifs. But just as an overall lens to apply to this situation.

Anyways, SO has brought up the living together issue maybe every 4-8 weeks on average since it first came up a year ago. There have been some tears, and some fights because of it - I've tried to be honest and say that it's just where I'm at, and that it's not her, but I also recognize that it's a hurtful thing for her and so I've tried to be understanding of her feelings, while at the same time communicating as plainly as I can why I'm still getting something out of the experience of living on my own, and that I'm not ready for change in that aspect of my life yet. But ultimately it has never really been resolved to either of our satisfaction and there is a history of tension surrounding it.

However, around September (3 months ago) I felt a bit of a change coming on - I started to look at living together as less of 'someday in the future' thing and more like a 'this is a real possibility' thing. For us commitment-conscious ones, this feels like a big step. It just so coincided with her bringing up the issue again maybe a week or two after I had been having these thoughts myself, and it wasn't during a fight or any other kind of conversation, just nicely and inquisitively out of nowhere, so the timing felt right and given that her lease is coming up (January), it seemed like a good time to take that next step and look for an apartment together. Happy times! It felt right and good.

However, some old doubts and issues continued to roll in the weeks and months afterwards. Thoughts about whether this is what I want personally right now as opposed to continuing to live on my own. Thoughts of whether this relationship is The One; are we going to get married, have kids, sit side by side in rocking chairs kind of thing? And if not, why move in? And if so, how does one know, like know for sure? Typical stress about 'what if it doesn't work out and then one of us has to find a place to live'.

And all the while as SO is moving ahead with wanting to look at apartments and get things firmed up. So it feels unfair to bring her down by talking about doubts and issues if I haven't sorted out my feeling on my own to some extent first. I think it's hugely important to talk about this before moving in together and don't want to come off half cocked, which is why I'm trying to answer these questions for myself before I go and have a conversation about this.

The questions (or some things that have been on my mind surrounding this) are:

1) Do you move in if you're not sure about the future? We are mostly on the same path, but there is potential for divergence in the future - her maybe going to grad school, some uncertainty about timing of having kids (she wants kids before she's 30, which seems reasonable time frame to me, but hard to tell how I'll feel in a few years?) and general uncertainty on both of our parts about getting married and timing/situation thereof. So it basically just makes me feel future guilty that things could change and I could break her heart.

2) Is it normal to feel a bit apprehensive about this kind of relationship step? Of course everyone is different, but is that a big red flag that I'm feeling not 100% on board with the idea (although definitely excited for certain elements)?

3) There's some lifestyle things to work around, namely mess tolerance (I like things about 2 notches cleaner than her on the 1-10 scale), she has a cat (I'm allergic), and our taste in furniture and furnishings is quite different (I work in the furniture world full time so maybe this one is just especially painful to me). So again I'm looking for red flags here, buuuuut I also feel that most of these things can be overcome with a bit of compromise. Open to input.

Those are my main points. All I want to do is make sure I'm making decisions for the right reasons, one way or another, so that I don't get hurt, or hurt someone that I care very much about.
posted by seagull.apollo to Human Relations (25 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This isn't marriage and I understand you want to take it seriously, but if it doesn't work, you can just move out. You don't have kids, you don't own property together. You're just testing the waters. It's why most people move in before they get engaged (not suggesting you have to get engaged!) because it's a great way of finding out of you work together - because if you don't, you just leave and wish each other the best.

So breathe, buy some antihistamines for the cat and draw up a chore chart. There, you just sorted out the hard part. Then crack open a bottle of wine and enjoy each other's company.
posted by Jubey at 7:39 PM on November 23, 2016 [9 favorites]

Like you I value my space. I did live with someone knowing it wouldn't last and unlike the comment above I would say that living together makes splitting up hard as hell. I didn't live with someone again until we had already decided we wanted to be together permanently. Bring the topic up now. It sounds like you guys are compatible but the timing wrong. Don't feel bad if you want to stay in your own space although bring that up soon and realize it may be the end of the relationship. Although that may not bed a bad thing either.
posted by biggreenplant at 7:47 PM on November 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

It is totally normal to be apprehensive about big lifestyle changes even when you really love the person and even when it's the "right" (or at least not a "wrong") step. I was nervous before moving in with my then-boyfriend, nervous about getting engaged, nervous about getting married, nervous about moving across the country with him a year later, and nervous about having kids two years later! And everything has been wonderful but I bet I will still be nervous when it's time for us to retire and spend 24/7 together. Being nervous about big changes, to me, is a sign that you take it seriously.

You can't predict the future, but you can probably tell if, deep down, you want this relationship to last. There is a difference between still kind of wanting your own place and not wanting to break someone's heart if your lives go in different directions, and knowing that you don't see a future in a relationship but are just going along with the flow the other party is instigating. Where do you fall on that spectrum?
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 8:11 PM on November 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

only got my own apartment about 6 months before we started dating. So being able to explore having my own furniture! my own food! walking around buck naked if I feel like it! as clean or messy of an apartment as I want!

This is literally exactly what living with a partner is like, unless you guys are not close and have little in common. (In which case moving in would be a bad idea.) I live with my partner and all the furniture is ours together, we buy whatever food we want, and it's not like we've never seen each other naked before. Cleaning stuff can become an issue if you guys aren't largely on the same page about that stuff, but honestly, you're both adults who are supposed to like each other.

Living with a partner is NOTHING LIKE having roommates. It's much closer to having your own place.

I'm still getting something out of the experience of living on my own

If you honestly think that living with your partner is going to be a miserable hellscape which you want to avoid as long as you possibly can, either you have super unrealistic ideas about what cohabitation entails or you don't really like your partner very much. If my partner told me this when we were discussing moving in together, it would be a sign, to me, that they probably wanted to break up, or at least to keep the relationship in a casual place until they got bored of me or met someone else.

Thoughts of whether this relationship is The One; are we going to get married, have kids, sit side by side in rocking chairs kind of thing? And if not, why move in? And if so, how does one know, like know for sure? Typical stress about 'what if it doesn't work out and then one of us has to find a place to live'.

On the other hand, I think these are more reasonable questions to ask. Some people move in just because, hey, why not. Others do see cohabitation as being sort of like pre-engagement, or at least implying that this is a Serious Relationship headed toward marriage in the long term. If you don't have those intentions toward your girlfriend, I think it would be a good idea to be honest about that with her now.

In terms of "how do you know someone is The One", firstly, there's no The One. Secondly, if you think someone might not be the one, then they're probably not the one. I'm getting married in 3 months. We had big "do you ever want kids/see yourself getting married" conversations (in general, not about each other) on like the 3rd date. We both acknowledged that we eventually wanted to live together within the first couple of months. I knew we both wanted to marry each other within six. On my part, I never had any "I don't want to marry this person" thoughts at all, though of course it took time to discover that, yes, I did specifically want to marry this person. There was just never anything against.

Honestly, in terms of it maybe not working out and one of you eventually having to find a new place to live, at this point you guys have been dating for two years. If you break up, it's going to completely uproot your lives no matter what. Not wanting to live together just in case you someday have to move is ridiculous unless you are almost certain that you will be breaking up soon.

Re your questions:

1. I don't think this is a reason not to move in together. If there was a major known incompatibility (her having definite grad school plans in the next year or so, you definitely not wanting kids ever), maybe, but there will always be a nebulous "what if" about the future. I sometimes toy with the idea of not living in my current city, while my partner loves it here. He wants to eventually buy a house, while I like apartment life. That stuff hasn't prevented us from getting engaged. We'll work all that out when the time comes.

2. Maaaaaaybe? To me, I feel like if, after two years, it's still like pulling teeth to consider the idea of living together, because, like, it's more important to you to buy whole milk or never vacuum than it is to be with someone you love, your gut might be telling you no. But I also feel like you're overthinking all of this, and you should just move in together and see what happens. Even the worst case scenario isn't really a huge deal.

3. Honestly, all that is stuff that you just talk about together and make it work. If you work in the furniture industry while she doesn't really care that much, you say, "Look, I love this couch and it's really important to me," and she gets that and you get the couch you want. If she's like "A clean apartment is nice but I just worked 12 hours and need to do the dishes later," you get that and she gets a break on the neatnik thing. On the other hand, wait, YOU'RE ALLERGIC TO HER CAT? Hold the phone. How did you guys think this was going to go down? Unless she's volunteering to give up her cat, this is pretty much a dealbreaker. Unless you're very mildly allergic? (I'm mildly allergic, we have cats, and sometimes take a zyrtec if it's bothering me.) Also... what does she think about the cat allergy thing? Like the furniture and the chores, this is a thing that gets solved by the two of you talking about it.
posted by Sara C. at 8:16 PM on November 23, 2016 [16 favorites]

So it basically just makes me feel future guilty that things could change and I could break her heart.

She's an adult. Be open about your concerns and thoughts about the future and let her decide how best to care for herself. She should do the same for you.

I'd recommend you guys should think through what happens if OTC meds don't work well enough for your cat allergies. Sometimes people adjust and don't react as strongly if they're around the animal most of the time (that's what happens to me), but if the opposite happens, can she rehome her cat easily, is that even an option in her mind?

I think discussing potential problems, like the cat allergies, and solutions will help you feel more comfortable, both because having a plan is always helpful and being able to work through a difficult issue should help you feel better about the relationship's foundation.
posted by ghost phoneme at 8:20 PM on November 23, 2016

I wasn't 100% sure about things when I moved in with my now-husband. Neither was he. I saw it as sort of a test: would we live together well? We're both only children. It had the potential to be a disaster.

It turned out that we lived together really well, better than either of us imagined.

Think of it as a test. Moving in together is not buying a house together or getting married or having a baby. It's a test to see if your relationship can work on that next level of intimacy. If it can, great. If not, then around the two year mark is a good time to find out.
posted by millipede at 8:44 PM on November 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

Speaking as someone who has been married for nearly twenty years, and who lived with a girlfriend/fiance for several years before tying the knot, I can't recommend moving in together unless you plan to get married or form a domestic partnership.

In my case, the time spent as roommate not only inserted uncertainty into our relationship, it also prolonged the amount of time it took for my wife to become a landed immigrant. In retrospect, those two years or so was wasted time. I should have gotten married way earlier.

Make a commitment, and stick to it. If you can't make a commitment, and therefore will not commit to making the relationship work through thick and thin, don't move in together. Life is too, too short for ambiguity in relationships.

Of course, being married is not for everyone, and doesn't have to be for everyone. So if both of you are *totally* okay about the chance of going your separate ways, that's a different story. However, being okay with the possibility of going your own separate ways means that that becomes more likely.
posted by My Dad at 8:49 PM on November 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Without commenting on any of the rest of your question, I'll say that trying to live with a cat I was allergic to is how, a few years later, I ended up with allergies so bad that I literally can't be in the same room as any animal with fur or else I risk ending up in the emergency room. Exposure can make allergies a lot worse. I wouldn't move in with the cat unless you've talked seriously with a doctor about how to deal with a life-threatening allergy attack that could all of a sudden happen with no warning. If I had known then what I know now, I would have made the cat a deal-breaker, because in the long run, trying to live with the cat has made my life really miserable.
posted by decathecting at 9:54 PM on November 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

She wants to have kids, plural, before she's 30, and she's 26 now. You don't actually have the luxury of a few years to figure out how you feel about that, then. She's been thinking of you as the future father of her children for over a year now. You're currently on two drastically different timetables, and you should address and resolve that before moving in together.
posted by furtive_jackanapes at 10:29 PM on November 23, 2016 [40 favorites]

Hi! I moved in with Mr. Arnicae roughly six weeks after meeting him and it has been great. With that said...don't move in with your gf. Sounds like you're not feeling ready or excited. That is ok! Tell her you're not ready to move in together. Also, anyone who brings up an issue every 4-6 weeks and is unwilling to accept no for an answer has some problems.

Wait until you're excited, wait until it feels like fun. With Mr. Arnicae it felt like a lot of fun and we were both really excited. You deserve to experience that.

Accept this might mean the end of your relationship with your gf and that's an ok thing, too.
posted by arnicae at 10:36 PM on November 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

The cat worries me. Where does she fall on the cat person spectrum? If she's the "it's nice to have a pet" person then maybe she'll be ok with rehoming if that's necessary. If she's like me and all major decisions are based on "what would the kitties prefer?" then you have a problem. You guys really need to discuss this.

I have a friend, a life long cat person, who fell for an allergic partner. She chose him and rehomed her cat when they moved in. They have kids now and she's happy but man, that drove home for me that I wasn't going to make that choice. I hadn't realised before that pet allergies could be so bad. You need a plan for what happens if you love living together but your allergies get really bad and she won't rehome. If she's like me you might be incompatible for that reason alone.
posted by kitten magic at 1:01 AM on November 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

The things you are feeling are all totally normal when facing a significant life change. I'd be more concerned if you didn't have some trepidation about it, especially since your partner is on a different timeline.

At some point, you take the leap or you don't, but nothing is guaranteed. You may not always be on the same path. In fact, in a long partnership, there are times when partners diverge on things like where you'll live, if you'll have kids (now, soon, five years?), if one of you should take a year off to work on your book. A long-term partner means you need to sort out conflict big and small. Sometimes that means compromise, and sometimes it can mean having autonomy to do your own thing. You need to figure out how you two negotiate because lots of things in life get more complex as you get older (kids, aging parents, your health).

There is one thing that feels like a big red flag to me. It may just be a wording thing, but I want to call it out for you. "To it feels unfair to bring her down by talking about doubts and issues if I haven't sorted out my feeling on my own to some extent first." Your partner is the person who should share those feelings with and who should help you work through them. You don't do the work on your own and announce the conclusion. Are you ready to have the vulnerability and transparency to work through your emotional life with her? If you are, then move on in and bicker out your differences on the chores and decor. If you're not, then you have some work to do.
posted by 26.2 at 1:04 AM on November 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

It doesn't sound like you are particularly into her. She's ok to date, you might care a lot about her, but you aren't actually in love with her. If you've never been in love you might not know what it feels like, but it definitely doesn't feel like "urgh, I don't really want to share my living space with this person".

After two years, if you're still at the "casual dating" stage and have no interest in anything more serious with her, I don't think you two are right for each other. If you were in love with her, you would want her to move in with you by now. You'd want her around as much as possible. This isn't something that will develop after ten years - if it isn't there by now, you aren't going to wake up one day in the future suddenly in love with her.

Drifting into marriage or cohabitation when you aren't in love, because you feel like you ought to want to, or because it's too difficult to upset them by breaking up, is a recipe for a miserable relationship. Or just one of those depressing "companionate marriages" where inertia and children are the only things stopping people from divorcing. You should break up, and look for somebody you do feel strongly enough about to want to live with.
posted by tinkletown at 2:37 AM on November 24, 2016 [8 favorites]

i'm really uncomfortable with some of the more popular answers here. to me, you sound like a sensible person with valid concerns who is being pushed along too fast. you're in a difficult position with the lease. i'm worried that means that if you guys don't sit down and (painfully) talk things out now, you're going to have a lot more pain and upset down the line.

i think you need to talk. not to offer some kind of ultimatum, but to simply understand each other better. along the lines of "look, please, this whole process is upsetting me. you are doing things that are hurting me - indirectly, and with the best intentions in mind, but even so, this is causing me worry and pain and we need to talk about this." you don't need to find some magic solution, but you do need to understand each other better. a good relationship isn't built on miraculously solving problems, but on consideration, give and take, and tact. at the moment you don't seem to have that.
posted by andrewcooke at 2:57 AM on November 24, 2016 [7 favorites]

I've moved in with people I wasn't sure about before and I wouldn't do it again. Now I would not move in with someone who I wouldn't marry.

Moving in together starts the process of combining your lives together. So my take on it is that you shouldn't do it with someone unless you want your life combined with theirs. I'm not even very clear on what the point of living together is if you do it thinking that you can always just move out (kind of like getting married thinking you can always get a divorce later). Living together, like marriage, makes it much harder to end a relationship with someone. Every couple I have known who split up after moving in together would have done so much, much sooner if they hadn't been living together.

I know a lot of people treat moving in together like it's just the next step of a long-term relationship and don't give it a ton of weight aside from status (ie our relationship is only "serious" if we move in together so this is what we must do even if we aren't sure about the future) but I think it's a big relationship step and it does change things. If you have a fight, you can't just leave and go home. It's building a life with another person.

If you do want to build a life with someone then things like messiness and taste become issues that you can work through. There might be areas of conflict but they tend not to matter as much as they do with roommates because this isn't just a person you're living with, it's the person who you want to share your life with, so a lot of that stuff you work through and can come to terms with because you both want to make one another happy--you have the shared goal of making one another's and your own lives better, together.
posted by Polychrome at 3:59 AM on November 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

My (now) husband and I had really different timetables for big things, including moving in together. Here's what helped us: I asked him "what do you need from me/us to increase you comfort?" He was able to think of some things (try " "living" together for 2 weeks without anyone moving, have conversations about X topic, etc.). From there, we worked on those things together which I liked because it felt like "progress" & I think he liked because he felt heard.

Here's what this needs to work:
- you have to actually WANT to get more comfortable with moving in together
- you have to be able to identify things that will make you more comfortable
- your partner has to be willing to do this with you

One more thing, if you think "deep down my partner would rather know about my doubts than for me to do this just to please her" that's a good sign.
posted by CMcG at 4:20 AM on November 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

Maybe this is a controversial opinion but I think "moving in together" has become the new cultural precursor to marriage. Or more specifically: you shack up, then you get engaged, then you're married. Moving in with a partner is a big deal and personally I would never again live with someone that I wasn't very confident I wanted to marry.
This isn't marriage and I understand you want to take it seriously, but if it doesn't work, you can just move out. You don't have kids, you don't own property together. You're just testing the waters.
This is exactly right, but this is why you should make sure you don't move in with someone that you don't want to marry. It's such a pain in the ass to move in, merge all your belongings, pets, book collection, and possibly some of your finances as well. So why do it willy-nilly with just anyone? Sure, you don't have as many barriers to breaking up as a married couple with three kids. But it will be plenty traumatic to undo the move.

When you live with a partner you are effectively married, if not in law then in lifestyle. You see that person a lot more. The "magic" of planning dates with them and the anticipation of not seeing them for days is completely gone. In its place, you find a domestic tranquility that will either feel great or terrible. I think if the relationship is right this part will feel great. A lot of couples fall apart at this point. It is a good litmus test.

So I think you are doing yourself a big favor by doing some soul searching and really deciding if this is someone you are serious about spending your life with.

Personally, having done this once and screwed it up pretty badly, I think about it now in the opposite direction. If I met someone I was really serious about I would pitch moving in together as a low-pressure way of nudging them along towards marriage.
posted by deathpanels at 6:42 AM on November 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

The cat is a huge, tangible issue that is probably a dealbreaker if it's not resolved. Personally, I'd get that issue out of the way because it's possible all the other stuff is moot.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:34 AM on November 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

Don't do it. Break up with her. Stop messing with her life because it's convenient for you to have a girlfriend who you sorta like, but aren't into enough to be enthused about melding your life with.

She's been trying to coax you to amp up the seriousness of the relationship for a while now with this focus on moving in. You're resisting for your own reasons, which are valid, even if not well articulated. However, it doesn't reflect well on you to keep her strung along like that. Relationships where there's a dynamic of one person who wants it more and so is the driver for the relationship, and the other is more reluctant and being nudged along the path, have a real power imbalance and it sets the stage for some awful consequences. It may be pretty uncomfortable for you to be nudged, but being in that role has its compensations, namely that you get to be the one in power because you are the one who has her pleading to you, and you can accept or not as you wish.

This is not the basis of good, mature partnership. If you aren't ready to step up and co-lead this major development with equal enthusiasm and assertiveness, be a grown up and step aside. She's also not doing herself any favors by settling for you and your lack of enthusiasm, but hey, she didn't ask the question, and she'll have to learn that lesson for herself.

She deserves a life partner who is at her same place in life, with the maturity to take on a more intimate, comingled life--someone who is enthusiastic enough about her to be willing to negotiate all the added complexities without reservation. That's not you.

Break up.
posted by Sublimity at 8:06 AM on November 24, 2016 [14 favorites]

I have a bad feeling about this, mostly because you have been in a relationship for two years and still strongly self identify as having commitment issues. You sound a little immature.
posted by cakelite at 8:20 AM on November 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Don't do it. You want different things. Moving in together should be exciting and fun. I agree with Sublimity that you should break up with her.
posted by orsonet at 8:59 AM on November 24, 2016

only got my own apartment about 6 months before we started dating. So being able to explore having my own furniture! my own food! walking around buck naked if I feel like it! as clean or messy of an apartment as I want!

I know some above commenters have said that that is what it is like to live with a partner, but... no. No it isn't. FAAAARR from it. Or at least it hasn't been in my experience.

1. When living with a partner furniture is decided upon by committee and not just based upon the taste of the individual, and for whatever reason it seems like the woman gets more say than the man. Even when one person says they "don't care, do what you want" they ALWAYS care. My husband tells me that he doesn't care how I decorate and to do what I want, but I ALWAYS pass things by him before hand and sure enough there have been multiple times where he has full on vetoed some things I was planning because he hated them so much. (RIP awesome elaborate lighting fixture for the front entryway...). You have MORE say than you would in a roommate situation, but definitely not as much say as you do living alone.
2. The food thing is outstandingly frustrating for me. Living alone I was able to keep a rock solid grip on what foods I allowed in my house, and I didn't have to share. Ever. I fucking loved it. That last slice of pizza was never at risk of being eaten by someone else. Also, foods that I was "saving" never got "cleaned up" and thrown out as they do sometimes now. Also, living together comes with a bit of an expectation for more shared meals. Luckily for me my husband is pretty cool with us eating different meals a lot of the time, but that is not the case for a lot of people. and people WILL eat your food on you. (I have never forgiven my husband for the time 5 years ago when he ate the one piece of blueberry cake I was saving for myself when he had already eaten 3/4 of it in the first place.)
3. Yes, you can walk around buck naked if you wish, but depending upon your partner they may or may not be okay with it. My husband and I are very okay with each other's nakedness, so prancing about in our birthday suits isn't a big deal, but a lot of people think nakedness should be saved for sexual moments.
4. The clean and messy thing is by far the most contentious issue. I am not a tidy person and couldn't care less about it. Mess house? Whatever. When I lived alone I did a big deep clean once a month but otherwise just sorta lived in squallor. My husband can't stand clutter or messes, so we are continuously battling our very different takes on proper levels of housework. We both find it frustrating. Ultimate solution is that we keep the house more on his level of tidiness but I get to keep my sanctuary (craft room/office/no boys allowed room) as messy as he wants and he never gets to say a damned thing.

There are ways of working around all these, and living with someone you love comes with a raft of benefits that in my opinion make it all worthwhile, but you are absolutely right that these are Things.

So my point is that you totally have reason to be iffy on it. If you have never really lived alone before and you don't feel "done" with living alone yet, then dude... don't move in yet. It is a fleeting and wonderful thing, living alone, and it isn't a pleasure a lot of people fully take advantage of, and getting a second hit at the living alone pinyata later on in life is possible but it just isn't the same.

I also think though that moving in with a partner can generally be challenging for most couples while routines and expectations get sorted out, and you really need to go in to it as postively and excited about it as possible. And you sound like you're dreading it, or at the very least aren't looking forward to it. You need to talk to her about this. Will she be upset? Yep. but you need to have this conversation. And let me promise you, if your relationship has a future you need to be able to have awkward uncomfortable talks like this, because there will be even worse, even more awkward conversations to come.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:25 AM on November 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

I disagree with the idea that "If it doesn't work, you can just move out." It's much more painful emotionally to break up after living together -- you have to break through the inertia of cohabitation, so you stay in the relationship long after you realize you have to go. And the disruption to your life is huge -- one or both of you lose their home, and you have to adjust constantly, 24 hours a day for months.

You're happy in the relationship and don't want it to end. It's possible that will outweigh whatever doubts you two can't negotiate away before making any further plans. It's normal to have doubts about any major decision. You listen to and share those doubts, and consider how you can move forward.

My husband and I (married 30 years) didn't live together till we were both sure we wanted to be together forever. All the other long-term couples we knew were cohabitating. My thinking was: "Why would I want to lose my privacy and alone time and make so many decisions, big and small, with someone I didn't necessarily want to stay with?" When a few of those other couples broke up, I saw how harrowing it was.

About living together, ask yourself, "Why the hell would I want to do this?" I'm serious. In what ways would it make your life better? Forget about it being the "logical next step" and how much money you'll save on rent. Forget about "normal" time tables. If you're worried about committing to living under one roof, you're going to freak when you realize how much your lives will change if you have kids. A huge percentage of your life would be devoted to the children and what's best for them. Maybe ask that here next week :-)

I think you should tell your girlfriend the truth about how you feel. (Don't mention the cat, taste in furniture, and housekeeping -- those are example of loss of autonomy, which you should mention.) Lead with the most important aspects, like children and having to share almost all decision-making. Emphasize that you're talking about this so the two of you can move forward. You don't have to finish the conversation in one go. It actually is a test, and an opportunity to get better at resolving many issues that will come later if you live together.
posted by wryly at 10:36 AM on November 24, 2016 [6 favorites]

I don't think you are a bad person. Your feelings are 110% NORMAL. You sound like a slow moving ship that needs to be nudged in the right direction over time. Move in with your girlfriend. I strongly suggest that you will be grateful that you did.

For what it's worth, I'm also on the bandwagon that living alone is much different than living with a partner. The good parts of living alone are SO good. Total solitude, total control of the house and its state of cleanliness... you give up those things when you move in with a partner. But the other stuff, like lounging in your pajamas and eating ice cream until 4pm without fear of judgement, can still happen ! It's great.
posted by pintapicasso at 3:47 PM on November 24, 2016

FWIW you don't have to live with your partners ever. It's a perfectly fine and sound choice. If you do go for it, get separate bedrooms! *dreamy sigh* Private space...
posted by fritillary at 6:54 PM on November 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

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