After a million bad dates, a few heart-rending, soul-shattering breakups, and a lot of perfectly nice people who just weren’t right for you, you finally found The One. The partner who’s perfect for you.
That’s fantastic! I am so happy for you. But before you sign a lease and start mixing your things together in the back of a U-haul, there are several Serious Conversations that need to happen.
Many of us get so wrapped up in the joy that comes with finding the right person and moving toward a new phase of life that we forget moving in together is a Big Damn Deal. It’s a lot harder to enjoy those quirks when you see each other every single night. All of a sudden you realize that you don’t make for a very good roommate. Or that he’s terrible with money. Or that she wants to have friends over five nights a week, when you were just looking forward to a quiet night in with Netflix and some pad thai.
But the good news? You can sidestep that whole mess by having a few conversations before you walk over the threshold of your new place. Here are five things to talk about before you move in with your partner.
1. Quality time
What’s the difference between these two? Quality time might be cooking dinner and talking about your day, taking a class together, or tackling a fun project that you’re both excited about. Quality time happens when you’re actively interacting with each other: talking, laughing, and making jokes about that coworker with the bad breath.
Watching TV together, reading in the same room, working on your laptops next to each other on the sofa ... these are situations where you’re just enjoying being around each other. You’re glad your partner is there, you’re just not necessarily engaging with them.
Make sure your partner knows how much quality time you like and how much "in each other’s company" time you like. And vice versa. It’s easy for feelings to get hurt when she thinks watching Homeland was quality time and you feel neglected and ignored.
2. The rent
Ohhhh, money. You are tricky. Rent might seem straightforward, but it never hurts to have a conversation about it. Are you splitting everything half and half? What if you earn a lot more than your partner? Or you earn the same amount but they have a huge school loan payment? What if you really pushed for the expensive place with the pool that they never use? Talk about how you’re going to split the rent and bills before you sign anything.
3. Alone time
Some of us need time alone to recharge our batteries and some of us bounce back from a tough day by chatting and cuddling. Talk to your partner about how much true alone time (not to be confused with "in each other’s company" time) they need and be open about your needs. It’s very, very easy to forget about this and for people to end up feeling smothered or rejected. You can even have a funny, code name for it. I know a couple who refers to this as "Choose Your Own Adventure Time."
If I had to guess, I’d estimate that at least 15% of arguments start because of a wet towel on the floor. Don’t be that couple! Before you move in together, have a conversation about the level of cleanliness you like in your space and who’s going to do which chores.
It’s also very important to remember that while you should certainly agree on an expected base level of cleanliness, in most couples one partner is the slightly cleaner. That person should realize that if their expectations for the home are of a scrubbing-the-baseboards-with-a-toothbrush nature, they’re probably going to be the ones on their knees with a toothbrush. It’s not fair to push unusually stringent standards on your partner.
5. Having friends over
Are you social? Is your partner? Do you want to socialize in your own home? These are actually three different things. Some people love to socialize with friends in bars. Some people love having friends over on weeknights and staying up till 1am.
Before you move in together, talk to your partner about how often you’d like to have people over and how you imagine it working out. How would you feel if he had eight friends over every Monday night to watch football? Who’s cooking for those friends? Do you want to host small dinner parties? Or huge, themed house parties? Have a conversation about it before you get roped into making buffalo wings every Monday for the next five year
Moving in together is an exciting step in any relationship! If you have these conversations I’m sure you’ll have a smooth, loving, easy move.
Even if they want to put that awful chair in the living room.
Dr. Danielle Dowling, Psy.D. is a doctor of psychology and life coach, helping ambitious, driven individuals achieve the financial, spiritual, and lifestyle abundance they dream about. She holds a bachelor's in business from American University, and her master's and doctor of psychology degrees from Ryokan College.
Dowling has spent years helping people live richer, more joyful lives. She has seen firsthand the magical pairing of psychology and life coaching, which allows people to access their happiest selves.