Love is in the air and you’ve been exclusively seeing your significant other for some time now. You only go home to check your mail, feed the fish, and water any plant life you may have. That drawer at their place just hasn’t been cutting it to store more than a week’s worth of your must-have items and you’re sick of doing laundry at two addresses. They’ve got a key to your crib and vice-versa, then suddenly one of you mentions the “C” word…no, not children but the other “C” word…Cohabitation.
At first thought for most this sounds like a win/win. You get to split most of the bills with someone if you aren’t already doing so, you have someone to look after you when you’re sick, a live-in cuddle buddy, someone to help you meet your minimum delivery requirement for Chinese food, a handy-man or a cooking guru. Someone to release that creepy crawly thing that’s on the wall out of its misery! You’re thinking, “What could go wrong? I already spend most of my free time with this person outside of work and we barely argue.”
If you’ve ever had or considered having a roommate you know that your main causes for concern are cleanliness, noise patterns, and ability to pay rent on time. Mostly everything around those topics can be worked around. Their personal life is pretty much their own and none of your business. If you’re friends, even better! But you really don’t need to be concerned with their dating life, their whereabouts, or their credit history. Here I’m going to go over some things to consider as well as red flags to look out for before deciding to commit to a lease with your lover/share digs with.
- You move often or relocate frequently: Are you the type of person who doesn’t sit still? You need frequent change of atmosphere? You switch jobs every time you get bored or just don’t see yourself settling yet? Maybe its not best to drag someone along for that ride. Living separately can allow you the freedom to move about whenever unhappy with your surroundings without uprooting your significant other who may be more content staying in one place for several years.
- You’ve been dating for less than 6 months: You may be a transparent individual who lays it all out on the table from day one, but chances are you don’t know everything about this person yet. Staying overnight at their place does not equate to knowing their actual habits at home. Everyone will clean up when their expecting company, but what does the place look like when you show up unannounced? Are you okay with a few dirty socks on the floor by their bed? Do dust bunnies flare up your allergies? Consider waiting it out until this person starts to let their guard down around you more.
- Utility bills in the name of random individuals. This one should be apparent but let me give a scenario. You head to the boo thang’s crib daily after work and because you are first home, you bring up their mail and leave what mail is not theirs for the neighbors. However there are utility bills in the names of people who do not live there. You ask your s.o. only to find out that the electric, cable, insurance, and other bills are in the names of Exes. RUN FOR THE HILLS! Now most people in their 20s or even possibly early 30s may not have the best credit and may need a parent or relative to co-sign, but if you find that your muse has used others for lines of credit of which they were never married to then you may be the next victim.
- There is attire in the apartment that does not belong to them. If your significant other has miscellaneous shoes or other items that are clearly not theirs hidden in closets or under the bed and they claim it belonged to a visiting relative or other person who has not bothered to come back to claim their belongings…don’t even overthink it. You do not want to be around when said owner returns.
- You are trying to save money. Everyone needs to save money, but if your only means of doing this is by moving in with your partner then you may want to re-evaluate your personal financial situation before becoming another person’s liability. Make sure you are self-sufficient before moving in with your mate. Financial stress and lack of communication are the top two reasons for relationship failure.
If you’ve read the above and none of these scenarios applies to you then congratulations! If you and your mate are both happy, communicate effectively, are both financially stable and/or responsible, and are seeing eye to eye on your common goals for a future together then by all means weigh the pros and cons together to decide what will work best for your situation. Try not to be victims of circumstance or financial strain and forced to be stuck together unhappily until one saves enough to move out, find a place to crash, or calls your relationship quits altogether. If marriage isn’t around the corner for you two anytime soon, consider drawing up a non-marital co-habitation agreement in the event that things go south to avoid conflict in the future and get it notarized. It will makes things simple and state how much time will be allowed for each party to find new dwellings, what shared or co-purchased belongings will go with whom, etc. This may sound like a lot, but living together just like marriage or accepting a job offer is an agreement between more than one party and all parties should be protected.
All serious matters aside, remember…You CAN live together peacefully and happily…When the time is right.