I live with my boyfriend, and so can you.

When you’re in a wonderful, healthy, happy relationship with someone you love, moving in together is a discussion that’s bound to come up sooner or later. But how do you do it? And when is it right? Are there even set rules or guidelines for doing such a thing?

The media has no problem advising us to avoid cohabiting, claiming that couples who do are bound for a lifetime of let down and even divorce should they ultimately decide to get married (see this NYT article on cohabiting here). With all of these claims flying around the internet, it’s hard not to be discouraged when you’re thinking of taking that step in your relationship.

So let’s take a moment and review this whole cohabiting thing. Can it be a terrible decision to move in with someone before marriage, even if you feel like the relationship is bound for marriage and a lifetime of happiness? Absolutely. Could cohabiting possibly cause a seemingly perfect relationship to fail? Of course it could. Any of these things are possible, but in my opinion most of the failures come as a result of not being adequately prepared to live together.

When I originally started writing this post, I wanted to focus on multiple steps you can take, steps that I have taken myself in my own relationship, in order to happily live with your partner. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there is only ONE key to successfully living together. While the little things matter, like deciding how to combine your furniture, what DIY Pinterest projects you’ll do to redecorate, or who will do what chores in the house, everything boils down to communication. Poor communication can 100% lead to relationship failure, and it can do the exact same thing to your live-in boyfriend situation. If you want your move to be a success, then talk about it. Talk about it again. And then, talk about it some more.

When John and I started dating, we knew that one day there would come a time in our relationship where we either took the next step and continued, or ended the relationship. We were 1,000 miles apart, and it was difficult to feel present in each other’s lives when we weren’t physically together. Naturally, the topic of moving in together came up. However, it wasn’t a one and done conversation. It was many, many conversations weighing the pros and cons and what it meant for our relationship. As a result, we’re happy, we love living together, and most importantly-we’re on the same page because we took the time to communicate clearly with each other about moving in together.

So this is where I feel the media has it all wrong: yes, cohabiting can have a downside, and it may absolutely lead to unhappy marriages down the road, but this could easily be avoided by clearly communicating with your partner about the move and what it means to each of you before taking the plunge.

What are your thoughts on living with a significant other before marriage? Is it a good idea? Do you currently live with a boyfriend/girlfriend? Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this!

Photo sources here and here.

28 thoughts on “I live with my boyfriend, and so can you.

  1. Fin Fox

    Hi, i really liked your blog. I think it’s funy how hard people have to try to live together. I wrote a tongue in cheek blog about communicating in relationships and i thought you might like it. Feel free to take a look here… What now..? http://wp.me/p2ksG5-4j

    Reply
  2. Maria

    I lived with my now husband before we got married. It worked for us because we had been dating for a while before we moved in and now that we are married, it was an easy transition since we already knew each others quirks 🙂

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      That’s how I view it too. I always said I would live with someone before marriage, because by then I’d already know if I could handle living with the person or not. I’m glad you’re happy in your living situation and you’re beating these silly statistics! 🙂

      Reply
  3. Danielleisms

    I think it’s important to live with someone before marriage. Every couple is different, but you learn a lot about someone living with them! My husband and I moved in together after only dating 6 months. Like you said, we talked about it, the pros and cons, and decided it was the best decision for us. We are now married and have been together going on 5 years, so it can def. workout! Too many negative nancies around!

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      I couldn’t agree more! When you live with someone you get to know them so much better, what habits and quirks they have, and I feel it’s an important step. If it’s meant to work out, it will, regardless of whether the couple has lived together prior to marriage or not. So happy to see you are a positive statistic!! I agree, too many negative nancies!

      Reply
  4. lffashionable

    I’m not seeing anyone so I can’t really weigh in on that part of the conversation. However, I think it’s great that this is working out for you and your boyfriend. Statistics are only numbers. They don’t tell you how things will work out. Communication is a huge part of the equation. You’re right on target.

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      I agree! Besides, when does the media ever focus on truly positive things? For every negative statistic and for every couple who moves in together and does have a negative experience, there’s an equal amount of couples out there, like John and myself, who are insanely happy living together. Thanks for commenting!

      Reply
  5. crazystylelove

    I think it should be mandatory for a couple to live together before they get married. This gives you time to “test it out” before you make it legal. I truly think the divorce rate would drastically go down because it would give people the opportunity to really get to know each other, and realize what it would be like to have a daily life with the other person. My Man and I dated for 8 years before moving in with each other 2 years ago. For us, the transition was seamless because he spent all of this free time at my place any ways. It was actually more inconvenient for him NOT to live with me because we would always go back and forth to his place just so he could pick up clean clothes. In our hearts, we are married, and we know we will spend the rest of our lives together, so we are in no rush to make it legal. Of course, everyone has their own beliefs, but this is what works for us.

    xo Jenny
    http://www.crazystylelove.com

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      That’s what I found so interesting about the NYT article – they were saying this is how twenty-somethings view living together, that its a way to test the strength of the relationship before marriage. But they almost made that sound negative in a way, which I don’t agree with. Times have changed, and living together before marriage has become more widespread and acceptable, but there will always be people who advise against it. I agree with you, you learn a lot about each other from living together and it does test the strength of a relationship. I’m glad to see that it’s working out well for you also!!

      Reply
  6. mollystillman

    This is such a relevant topic, Stephanie. I guess I come at it from a different angle – my husband and I didn’t live together before marriage – we kept things “traditional” I guess you could say… waiting for a lot of things before marriage. For us, it was the best decision we made. I, in my honest opinion, don’t think that couples who DO live together or couples who DON’T live together before marriage are destined for failure or success either way. It’s all about the couple, the level of communication (which I agree 100% to your point), and the commitment. John and I, going into our marriage, were / are 100% committed. I mean, I know things won’t always be perfect, and I know we’re newlyweds, but I can honestly say that there is not ONE thing that will break us apart. I feel like so often in our country couples get married and they’re like “Oh, well, I’ll see how it works out.” Not us. I didn’t get married as a trial. I got married because I love John, but ultimately, I’m committed to him as my partner, my best friend, and my soulmate. But also, for us, being Christians, with Christ at the center of our marriage, that gives us something else to challenge us. Now, obviously not everyone is a Christian and that is TOTALLY fine – everyone has their own personal beliefs and values – I guess what I am trying to say through ALL of this rambling is I don’t think living together or not living together is what makes or breaks a relationship – I think it’s the two people, who love each other, and who are committed to each other no matter what that can make or break a relationship. At the end of the day, that’s what’s most important. 🙂 (sorry for the long rambling response!) Love this post, Stephanie!

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      I couldn’t agree with you more Molly, and I love hearing it from a different perspective from someone who didn’t live with her husband before marriage. Of course if you go into a relationship and move in together without so much as having a 5 minute conversation about it, there are going to be problems. Good relationships have a strong foundation in communication, so if that isn’t a strong point in your relationship then of course there would be problems, regardless of whether that couple ever lived together or not! You hit the nail on the head – good relationships come from commitment and communication. Also, if a couple is so “meh” about getting married and only view it as the next step and just do it because they feel obligated, then that takes away from the whole sanction of marriage anyway. Thanks for taking the time to read and post your thoughts, loved what you had to say here!! 🙂 And PS – glad things are going so amazing for you and your John.

      Reply
  7. Always Maylee

    What a great post! Personally, I think it all depends on the couple whether living together first will work for them. But you are definitely right, communication is key. Without it, the relationship will suffer. My now husband and I moved in together before we got engaged (we were dating for about 1 year). And honestly, it made our relationship stronger. I was able to learn to deal with him leaving his socks around and he was able to learn to deal with me being OCD. Haha, it was great. 🙂

    xo, Yi-chia
    Always Maylee

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      I agree! Already I have grown so much closer to my boyfriend, John, by living with him. We’ve gotten used to each others habits and quirks and always communicate with each other. You’re right also, if a couple isn’t a strong couple in the first place and moves in together, of course there will be issues. I’m glad to see so many positive stories here, I’m sick of all the negative light being shed on this topic. Congrats on beating the statistic 🙂

      Reply
  8. Sharon

    My now husband wanted me to move in when we were dating, but living in two different states, I didn’t want to do it without a solid commitment. So, after we got engaged, I moved in. I agree communication is important, as well as compromise. You have to learn when to pick your battles!

    -Sharon

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      You are so right about compromise. My boyfriend might leave the occasional dirty sock or shirt lying around the house, but he’s also amazing when it comes to helping me clean the house. You absolutely have to pick your battles and have patience with each other. Living with my boyfriend has made me feel so much closer to him, and it’s made our relationship even more solid. I’m glad it worked out for you! Also, were you in a long distance relationship for long? My boyfriend and I did it for a year, it’s always interesting to hear other peoples success stories with long distance relationships. 🙂

      Reply
  9. albucco10

    I personally think that while everyone needs to make the right decision for themselves, I’d never be able to imagine taking even bigger steps with someone (engagement, marriage) without living together first, especially in long distance relationships. I think when you’re with the right person, that step will not only feel natural, but exciting! So happy it worked out for you!

    -Alyssa
    The Glossy Life

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      I’ve always been the same way. I always told myself I would live with a boyfriend before considering marriage. John and I took a huge risk when I moved down because I was moving so far, and neither of us knew if it would work out in the end, but in the end it all boiled down to commitment and communication. I never would have moved so far if I didn’t feel John was 100% committed to me and our relationship, and vice versa. And you are so right about the last point – it will feel natural/exciting if it’s the right thing, and for me it absolutely was! 🙂

      Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Thanks for stopping by/commenting! I’m glad you can get something out of it. It’s a big decision to make if you’re considering, but if it’s right it will always work out in the end, regardless of statistics. Can’t wait to go check out your blog! 🙂

      Reply
  10. Emily grapes

    I think its funny we both talked about the importance of communication today AND that we’re on each other’s blogs at the exact same time (since I saw I just got a comment from you) hahaha what are the odds!!!

    YES communication is SO important and vital to all relationships!
    Emily at Amazing Grapes

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Haha I know!! When I went over to your blog I was reading and I was like wow, I basically posted the same exact thing today! It’s hard at times, but communication makes or breaks a relationship. 🙂

      Reply
  11. thestatestreetedit

    I agree 100% about communication – a lot of my friends are in long term, committed relationships, and the common link I’ve noticed in all of them is how great at communication they are. They never let fights get to the point of a blow up and they say what they like or what’s bothering them right when they feel it. I think I would definitely want to live with someone before getting married – it feels like a natural progression, where you can test those communication skills even further. I’m so happy everything is working out so well for you and your BF! It sounds like you have a great relationship! 🙂

    Reply
    1. twenty-something Post author

      Yeah I agree – it also makes for a very “grown up” relationship when you’re able to openly communicate with one another. I’m definitely glad to see so many positive stories after posting this – it’s very encouraging! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, and yes, I am very very happy in my relationship 🙂

      Reply
  12. Sarah

    I’m not even in a relationship, but I can’t imagine marrying someone without living together first. I suppose the only reason I would feel otherwise is if it were important to him that we don’t, but I want to know BEFORE the ultimate commitment that we aren’t going to be able to handle each other. I guess I would feel different, though, if I were brought up more religious, too. I suppose I will truly know where I stand when I find myself in the situation.

    Reply
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  14. Gina

    I just discovered your blog and was thrilled to see that you explored this topic 🙂

    I completely agree that communication is the only way to navigate a big life decision such as moving in with a significant other. There are so many factors that need to be taken into consideration, so without communication, it is bound to fail. I am currently in a long distance relationship with my boyfriend of 1 1/2 years. We started the “moving in” conversation a few months ago for a few reasons: we wanted to see the light at the end of the tunnel of this long distance nonsense, and we feel gosh darn ready to take the next step in our commitment to each other. Although we cannot actually put the wheels in motion for another year (when he graduates), it is so awesome to talk about the life we envision with each other and how we are going to help and support each other to make it happen. Thanks so much for writing about this topic and I am so happy that you and your boyfriend have found peace with your new living situation 🙂

    Reply
  15. Alexandra

    I realize this is an older post, however I am just recently finding your blog! I wanted to share my thoughts on this topic as I am 23 years old and have been in this situation.

    In 2010 Alex and I started our relationship, I was 20 at the time but we had known each other since I was about 16. Our relationship felt so right and we knew instantly that we were in it for the long haul. We spent every single moment of every single day together and being apart just wasn’t an option. We both lived with our parents at the time and I spent most of my time hanging out with him at his parents house but we quickly realized that we wanted our own space and privacy. Alex decided he’s start looking for an apartment of his own so that we would have a place to go when we didn’t want to go out on dates. He took me along with him to see several apartments but we had never spoken about living together.

    When he was finally offered an apartment I helped him move in but still no talk of living together. I was dying inside because I knew that I so badly wanted to live with him but was afraid to bring it up as we had only been a couple for about two months. I never really spent a full night with him but I was there every day for a countless amount of hours. If I remember correctly after just one week of him living on his own we had a conversation where we laid out on the table exactly how we felt about each other, and after him hearing my true feelings towards him and what I wanted out of our relationship he asked me if I would like to move in with him. I was so overjoyed and of course I told him I’d love to move in with him but I wanted to make sure it was what he really wanted. I remember him telling me that he wanted to ask me about living together since he started looking for places to live but didn’t know how to ask me because as I mentioned before we had been together for a short amount of time.

    Well this was in mid November that he extended the invitation and after many talks on the topic I was officially moved in on December 8, 2010.

    The point of my story is that I agree that sometimes cohabitation can ruin a relationship but sometimes it doesn’t. Communication and honesty play a huge roll on this decision. I believe that I made the right choice to live with Alex before marriage because we got to know each other better, we got experience how the other lived, and it made us grow closer as a couple. In July of this year he proposed to me and we recently got married on November 15.

    Living with the person you love is a beautiful thing but does require a lot of thought, communication, and understanding.

    Reply

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