Taking the next step and moving in with your boyfriend can be a relationship-changing event that either draws you both together or pushes you apart. In addition to the emotional impact of your new living situation, there are several legal and financial matters you should consider. Communicating your concerns with one another, having mutual respect for each other's belongings and sharing financial responsibility can help to pave the way for a smooth transition from dating to living together.
Communication Is Key
When and how you communicate with your boyfriend can determine your happiness in your relationship and living situation. Effective communication is both clear and direct, meaning that it is not masked, vague or obfuscated in any way. Telling your boyfriend, "I can't stand it when the living room is messy," implies that you would like him to clean up after himself, but it is not direct and doesn't send a clear message for him to clean up his mess. "It would make me happy if you picked up your dirty plates when you're done," on the other hand, identifies your boyfriend as the target of the message and clearly states that you would be happier if he cleaned up after himself. Remember, your boyfriend is not a mind reader and likely isn't trained in deciphering codes. Having a clear and direct communication style will aid in preventing several problems before they happen.
Men Are From...
While it is easy to make comparisons to men and woman as outlined in John Gray's book "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus," it goes without saying that you and your boyfriend likely have different personality styles and living habits. Part of choosing to live together means accepting that there will be times that you both must come to a compromise when your personal preferences do not line up. Your boyfriend may have been used to going home after a date and staying up until 3 a.m. playing video games, while you prefer to go to bed at 10 p.m. Asking your boyfriend to come to bed at 10 p.m. may cause strife in your relationship if he feels he is giving up something he enjoys to live with you. But asking that he not stay up so late can still give him the freedom to enjoy his hobbies, without compromising your sleep.
Don't Stop Dating
While it is important and healthy to take time for yourselves in your relationship, don't give up the idea of dating each other once your boyfriend has moved in. Plan dates, go to events, dress up for one another and continue doing all of the things that you enjoyed doing together before moving in. For a fun way to shake things up, ask your boyfriend out on a date in the middle of the week to break free from the traditional date night.
Choosing to live together is more than an emotional commitment, it also requires that you agree to certain legal and financial responsibilities, such as paying utility bills and maintaining your lease. While keeping these financial ties to one another may prompt you to work out your problems, breaking up is not due cause for breaking a lease. You may be held accountable for any contract that you commit to while living with your boyfriend, even if you terminate your relationship.
Evaluating Your Relationship
Are you planning on getting married? Have you talked about getting married? Are you pregnant? Expect all of these questions and more when moving in with your boyfriend. If you haven't yet discussed these issues, chances are someone will bring them up for you. Is your relationship stable or serious enough to handle discussions about the future, where your relationship is going and what your intentions are? Regardless of where you stand on these issues, they will be presented to you and your boyfriend. Ask these and other hard questions to each other now, before someone else asks them for you.
Living With Children
Children add another layer of complexity to the situation. Do you have children? Does he? What roles will you and your boyfriend play in raising the children? Are you comfortable caring for a child who is not your own full time? While dating someone with children can often be complicated, living with someone who has children adds a new level of responsibility. It also solidifies to the child that you are a more-permanent fixture in her life.
- North Dakota State University: Communication Styles
- Social Science & Medicine: A Review of Relationships Between Active Living and Determinants of Health
- Psychology Today: 8 Steps You Should Take Before Living with Your Partner
- Journal of Sex Research: Emotional and Physical Satisfaction in Noncohabiting, Cohabiting, and Marital Relationships: The Importance of Jealous Conflict
- Social Science Research: “Hookups,” Dating, and Relationship Quality: Does the Type of Sexual Involvement Matter?
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