IS THIS NORMAL? I want to move in with my boyfriend, but we’ve only been dating six months
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Dear Is This Normal?,
My boyfriend and I started dating six months ago and things moved pretty fast — but it didn’t feel fast, ya know? We made our relationship official after only a few dates, and soon after, began to discuss moving in together. I’ve always had incompatible roommates, so the idea of moving in with my partner excites me — because we are compatible. However, I am worried it’s too soon. Is there such a thing as “too soon” when it comes to moving in together? What should I do?!
— Ready to Pack Her Bags, Los Angeles
Dear Ready to Pack,
As Aaliyah said, “Age (or length of time you’ve been dating your partner) ain’t nothin’ but a number.” Okay, she didn’t say that exactly, but the basic gist is this: Only you and your partner can decide when the time is right to move in together.
In fact, couples are pretty split on the “right” time. Accordingly to a 2017 survey by ForRent.com, 32.5% of people surveyed think you should wait ’til marriage to move in together, but another 23% think one to two years together is plenty of time. And for 21% of those surveyed, six months to a year is plenty of time together to shack up. And oh yeah, among people ages 18 to 24, nearly 40% of them think one to two years of dating is long enough together to decide to move in.
Basically what I’m saying is, no one can agree on the perfect time. So you and your partner should let your intuition guide you.
There are, however, a few things I think you should consider before moving in with your boyfriend.
First of all, why are you doing this? Have you talked about it? For him, it might be a step towards long-term commitment or marriage, and for you it might just be a more convenient living situation. Or not! You could very well be on the same page, but you should talk openly about it and see how your partner is feeling.
Dr. Sue Varma, a New York City psychiatrist and clinical assistant professor at NYU Langone, wants couples to consider this question: “What is the purpose of moving in together — a trial to see if they can work it out, to save money, etc.? There are a variety of reasons, and no one right answer or right time. But it helps the situation if there is a bigger plan.”
She recommends asking each other, "What are we working towards? What do you want down the line? If either one is not open to the idea of marriage, kids, etc., this is the time to discuss it so [there are] no misconceptions."
Second, have you talked about money, chores, your schedules, how you like to keep your apartment, how often you have friends over, how much time you spend with your friends, how you’ll split the bills, and generally what you expect your life together to look like? What about your long-term career plans? “I appreciate the idea that picking the right partner is one of the most important career choices we make,” says Dr. Varma.
You want to get to know your partner’s at-home quirks and behaviors — not to mention his expectations of you — before shacking up, because as much as you love him now, it might drive you crazy to discover that he stays up ’til 3 a.m. playing video games every Sunday night.
Also, consider your mental health and your partner’s, too. You might feel great together now, but living together will undoubtedly add certain stresses that could affect you in unexpected ways.
Says Dr. Varma, “Take care of your own mental health and your partner’s — suggest therapy individually and together. You don’t have to be married nor is your relationship doomed for getting help early on. Most people don’t get help until damage is so severe.”
Ready to Pack, I hope this was helpful. If you want to check out more resources before moving in together, Dr. Varma recommends reading any of John Gottman’s books on relationships, or 1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married (ignore the word “marriage” in the titles; they’re useful for all couples).
Ultimately, only you and your partner can decide when the time is right. If you’re on the same page about your current status and your future — and you can speak openly and honestly without feeling dismissed or judged — you’re well on your way to a happy life of cohabitation.