Yes, you love each other, but are you ready to move in together? Maybe not.
Just a couple of days ago, I was watching a random stand-up show about relationships. It wasn’t good, to be honest, and most of the jokes about relationships were bad and based on pretty outdated notions, but one of the jokes left me thinking. The comedian said that she really admired those people who get married without living with their partner first because, basically, they’re just jumping into the unknown. I think that’s absolutely true, and it's the reason why so many people see moving in as the next important step when they’ve been dating for a while. But how to know if it’s really a good idea and not just signing a death sentence for your relationship?
For me, marriage is just paperwork with nothing special except, perhaps, the party and some legal benefits. Other than that, when it comes to the evolution of a relationship, I think it’s even more important to live together. However, it’s also true that not everybody is actually fit for this stage of the relationship, or even ready to do so, but social pressure can push you to take that huge leap. Believe me, not being prepared to do it can only have two possible outcomes: you either learn how to adapt to this new life, or it all ends in a terrible break up.
My mother used to say that the only way to know if your partner is the one is if you feel comfortable doing everything you do every day (and she literally meant everything) with that person there all the time. If you can’t, it’s most likely that it won’t work. In theory, if you’re thinking about making that move, it’s because you want your relationship to evolve into something more "serious," and you want to spend as much time as you can with this person. More importantly, you want to start a life together with a shared goal and vision of the future. That’s basically the ideal, isn’t it? But no matter how great and romantic that might sound, at the end of the day it’s a matter of compromise to be willing to change things about yourself and your life to adapt to this new shared life.
It’s not just a matter of financial compromise and sharing. It’s also an emotional change in your life that you or your partner might not be ready to make, even if you both want to. Not having that certainty of being emotionally, financially, and mentally ready can really change the nature of the relationship so abruptly that there’s not really a way out. I have read countless accounts of people who claimed they were absolutely ready to make the leap because they had been dating their partner for years. This isn’t really a matter of time, where moving in is just a natural step, as if it were a treasure hunt, and you just move forward once you’ve reached certain milestones. On the contrary, I believe it’s a matter of compatibility, regardless of the duration of the relationship, in which both parties are ready to start sharing a life together. I’ve seen so many couples that have failed after moving on (even when they dated for over a decade) just because they weren’t used to spending that much time together, and when the first conflict came up, they weren’t capable of solving it as a couple.
I barely mentioned this before, but social pressure can be a determining factor in the failure of a formal relationship. I mean, you feel that you need to change the status of your relationship, but marriage sounds way too formal, so moving in together is the natural next step, right? Well, not really. For starters, there isn’t a guide or a manual to follow when it comes to relationships. It’s a personal matter of adapting and evolving at the pace the couple wants to. We are taught that there comes a moment in our lives (basically, when we’re in our thirties) when we have to have all our life figured out, including our relationship, but times have changed, and we’re not in those days when, if you weren’t with someone by that time, you’d be alone for the rest of your life. Just take it easy and really go for what you feel is the best for you and your relationship.
Before we end our conversation, let me just mention that moving in together, besides being a traditional relationship milestone, is also often seen by many as a solution to the monotony of the relationship. But don't believe in this nonsense. If there's something wrong with your relationship, taking a huge and important step won't make it better. On the contrary, you'll just be starting a new phase in an already damaged relationship. Not that it's doomed to fail already, but first, solve whatever issue you might have, and only then should you start talking about formalizing it this way.
Yes, when we love someone, we want it to be something that lasts for the rest of our days, and for that reason, there’s no rush in collecting milestones. I do believe it’s healthy to put your wishes and goals on the table, discuss it, plan thoroughly, and only go for it whenever both of you are ready and the conditions are the ideal ones. Stop worrying about rushing into things and enjoy your relationship to the fullest because, if it’s meant to be, things will settle by themselves.
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Images by @amyseder