Moving in with your significant other has a lot of benefits — no more overnight bags, you don’t have to suffer through traffic just to see each other, and you get to split the cost of bills. It’s pretty much a win-win.
However, moving in together is also a major relationship milestone and one that shouldn’t be rushed into. Whether it’s your first time moving in with a partner or you’ve co-habited before, you’ll want to make sure you’re ready to take your relationship to the next level.
“While moving in with a partner can be exciting, these events can also be experienced by many as deeply unsettling because they necessitate change,” says Dr. Jacqui Gabb, professor of sociology and intimacy at The Open University and Chief Relationships Officer at Paired.
“Home provides a crucial anchor point for us, psychologically and practically. The environment in which we live is more than the space around us,” she says. “It's part of who we are and how we manage to separate ourselves from external pressures.” It’s no wonder, then, that shacking up with a romantic partner can feel like such a big deal.
“Change can put significant pressure on a relationship because it disrupts the current dynamic,” explains Dr. Gabb. But change can be a good thing for your relationship if you know how welcome it, as partners.
“It’s the couples who are adaptable that are more likely to be able to manage change,” explains Dr. Gabb. “They rise to the challenge and pull together to tackle the challenges that change brings. Those who resist are more likely to struggle.”
Before you move in with a partner, it's important to iron out both the emotional and practical aspects of living together. How to manage household chores, accommodating work schedules, splitting bills, and how much closet space you’ll need are all crucial conversations to have before you move in together.
Below, Dr. Gabb shares her top three tips to give you and your partner a better chance of a seamless and successful cohabitating experience.
When you move in with a partner, you’re merging your lives. This also means merging your home decor preferences and personal belongings.
“It may feel like arguments flare up because of differences in taste,” explains Dr. Gabb. “You may really dislike their sports trophies, ornaments, pictures, or color schemes, but it’s important to talk about differences in taste and decor without one person asserting their right to choose.”
We tend to place a lot of sentimental value on our belongings, but this is a good chance to take stock of what really matters to you, and what you can let go of.
“Ask your partner if there’s a reason behind their attachments to certain objects,” says Dr. Gabb. “Communicating about the feelings attached to things will foster deeper understanding between you and your partner and identify where compromises can be made.”
And the same thing goes for your belongings. “Sharing a home with someone inevitably requires compromises but it doesn’t mean that you have to give up on everything dear to you,” says Dr. Gabb. “Work out why you’re holding on to something rather than fighting with your partner over every detail.”
Sleeping in separate bedrooms might conjure images of doomed, sexless relationships, but as unconventional as it may sound, research shows that a sleep divorce can do wonders for your relationship — especially if you have trouble sleeping as it is.
“Wanting or needing to sleep separately isn’t a personal sleight on your partner, but saying you need this can be experienced as rejecting, and be misinterpreted as a sign that you’re not committed to a relationship,” explains Dr. Gabb.
“Set aside time to explain why you need your own space. Figure out what’s important and what’s imperative,” she adds. “If you can reach a compromise then it’ll feel much fairer — and you’ll learn more about your partner in the process.”
Fights and disagreements are part and parcel of relationships. All couples argue, and you’re only more likely to fight if you share a living space.
One of you will inevitably get frustrated at the other over the dirty pile of clothes on the floor or because you’re working too late. Whatever it is, learning how to navigate conflict is crucial for a happy home life.
“Resolving disagreements can feel hard and many people will actively try to avoid conflict rather than work things through. But pushing feelings under the bed doesn’t make them go away and they will resurface,” says Dr. Gabb.
“Engaging with issues as they arise can stop things from escalating and prevent one or both of you from feeling that you’re not being listened to or heard.”
Now that you’ve made the leap and picked up the keys to your new home, Dr. Gabb has some more advice to share. “Negotiating changes and compromises will inevitably be stressful,” she says. “Set aside some time to reconnect with your partner after the hectic activities of moving.”
But most of all? Cherish the change! “Don’t try to make everything immediately perfect,” says Dr. Gabb. “If the sound system is still packed, then play music through your phone or watch a film on your laptop. In the future, you won’t remember the sound quality… It'll be what you listened to and watched together that becomes one of your most cherished couple memories.”
Preparing to move in together? Download the Paired app and answer the “Moving In Together” pack with your partner.