At some point in a serious relationship, the question of moving in together will arise. Today this decision is taken much more lightly than it was in our parents’ generation, when more often than not, simply living together was the equivalent of getting married—in Satan’s church. Now couples move in together for reasons other than mortifying their parents (although some of us still get to enjoy that perk!). In some ways, moving in together in this generation holds pretty much the equivalent status of going steady to generations previous. We just don’t take it as seriously.
Because the perceived “meaning” of moving in together has been reduced to simply dating in closer proximity, the question of moving in together may come up much sooner in a relationship these days than in days previous. Living together has gone from a sin to a precursor to marriage, to a replacement for marriage, to finally, just an advanced stage of dating that is financially and geographically convenient. In that context, it is easy to agree to moving in together as a sensible, even logical, next step without really considering the ramifications of doing so.
No matter how sensibly it is presented to you, do not think for a moment that women take moving in together lightly. By that, I do not mean that they have necessarily thought it through. Women are trained to always be looking forward to where things are “headed’ in a relationship, and each leap ahead is treated as a success for them. This often leads to a much stronger drive than in men to reach milestones in a relationship. One of those milestones is co-habitation. No matter how much she claims that moving in together would simply be more convenient, that it’s not a huge commitment, on some unconscious level she is mentally ticking off a flag on the long-term relationship obstacle course. To most women living together is pre-marriage.
If you are not ready for pre-marriage, there are ways of turning her off of the idea so you can put it off until you are ready. If you are a slob, you are already halfway there. Play it up. The picture that a woman has of living with a man is one of creating a little family nest. It is nicely decorated (probably with her taste), there will probably be some expectation of furniture investments together (so you can have stuff together and it’s more about the two of you), and creating a home. Gone will be the basketball hoop, the suspiciously stained armchair and your beer box coffee table. If she does not see how your slovenly bachelor lifestyle will fit into that picture, and you make it very clear that you enjoy living like this and have no plans to change, she will be reluctant to jump into a lease with you.
If you actually have good taste and have taken time to decorate your apartment like an adult, you had better believe that the first time she saw your place, you immediately jumped into the co-habitable category. If this is the case, you are going to have to play down your good taste. If the two of you are talking about how you see your dream home, make up some tacky stuff and make it sound like you have had your heart set on it since you were 5 years old. Women, especially those who think they have good taste, always assume that they will get majority say in the decorating. Make sure she knows she’ll be in for a fight.
If the two of you already spend every night at each others’ pads, it is going to be more difficult to explain to her why it is that you do not want to make official what you have already been doing unofficially since you hooked up. And maybe you should ask yourself why. Is it just the idea of moving in together that scares you? If that is the case, that’s not weird. It’s pre-marriage, and if you are not ready for that, then that’s your right.
If she takes moving in together as simply a step that “makes sense” since you already spend most nights together, call her on it. Tell her that you don’t think that a step in the relationship as serious as moving in together should be made out of convenience. You should not base a big step in your relationship on whether or not it is silly to be paying two sets of rent.
If you have any, use examples from your past or from the love lives of your friends where moving in together led to the eventual breaking down of the relationship because it was done too soon. Moving in together makes a statement that the two of you are a family unit of sorts, and that will always change the dynamic of the relationship.
Living together is the start of a life together, and too many guys don’t realize the commitment they are making when they decide to do it. I have seen too many guys who have moved in with their significant other because of pressure from her to do so, not because of a conscious decision made between the two people. Deciding to live together means that the couple is ready for the added pressures of being housemates and embarking on the next phase of the relationship. Those same guys are the ones I see the year after their wedding with the still-dazed look on their face and the slightly desperate attempts to hit on other women because, instead of stopping to think about what they want at every new phase of a relationship, they seem to have simply gotten swept up in the momentum without taking time to think.
When it comes to making the decision to live together or not, it is just important that you do it because you want to. If you don’t think you are ready, then have the respect for yourself, and for her, to tell her so. And to be honest, you don’t really have to give her an answer to why. Sometimes, it just doesn’t feel like the right time yet. She should respect that, and if she doesn’t like it, she is free to make her own decisions.