Cohabiting couples have become the new normal in American society, and for good reason. Practical pairs save thousands by sharing the rent and bills, and those with an interest in finding The One undergo an extremely valuable practice run. Some relationship “experts” suggest waiting years before cohabiting, but relationships rarely run according to schedules. The real key in knowing whether you’re ready lies in asking yourself (and your significant other) the serious questions that indicate your compatibility as a live-in couple.
Before you sign that lease, make sure you’re comfortable with these questions, and their answers.
What does he do in his free time (when you’re not around)?
For better or worse, your man’s free time is about to intertwine with yours … possibly, for good. Be honest with yourself as you analyze whether or not you can live with his everyday lifestyle. Does your boyfriend spend his weeknights curled up with a book, or clubbing with his work pals? Does he like variety in his weekend activities, or does he live his life according to routines?
Compare his average day with yours.
Do you wish you were more social? You probably wouldn’t mind if your boyfriend invited friends over regularly. But if you enjoy a serene, quiet home, a boyfriend who does nothing but watch TV and play video games on his off-days could make you feel oppressed.
Are your friends comfortable with him (and visa versa)?
If moving in together is already on your agenda as a couple, your friends’ opinions might not seem to matter much. In truth, they’re actually your safeguards.
When your relationship is still sparkly and new, those friends will see what your rose-tinted eyes cannot. Sure, some people in your circle might be too nosy to truth. But if a reliable friend is telling you something’s not right about your loved one, listen critically to what they have to say and evaluate their feedback accordingly.
Look at his friends, too. How they behave around you could signal a red flag.
Is someone in your relationship a peacekeeper?
If you or your loved one is the type to avoid conflict by any means necessary, make sure the other partner is aware of this. Peacekeeping personalities naturally silence negative opinions to ensure their loved one is happy, oftentimes making themselves miserable in the process.
If you’re dating a peacekeeper, make an early habit of regularly checking in with their feelings. Pay close attention to when they’re acting overly agreeable. If you are the peacekeeper, practice speaking your mind at least once a day. Martyring yourself won’t please your hubby, but being honest will!
If things fall apart, do you have an exit strategy?
You’re about to share a lot more than just a bed. “What happens if things don’t work out between us?” is a question every cohabitation situation needs an answer to. If — knock on wood — the relationship doesn’t work out, who will move out? If it’s you, where will you move to? Who gets to keep the pets? Find out which large or expensive items will go, and which will stay. Deciding ahead of time won’t jinx the relationship, but the discussion might reveal some insecurities to keep in mind later on.
Once you’ve both deliberated these answers, there’s only one question left to ask: Is it worth it? If so, congratulations! With any luck, you’ve found the roommate of a lifetime.