If you’ve been in a romantic relationship and feel that there’s potential for a long-term future together, it’s normal to want to eventually move in together. From the convenience of having better logistics to seeing each other more often, sharing expenses, and a greater sense of intimacy, moving in together can be a positive experience. However, for all of these positive aspects, there are plenty of horror stories where things go poorly and may threaten the future of the relationship. Of course, this begs the question: How soon is too soon to move in together?
To help you decide if you’re moving in together too soon or whether you’re making the right choice, we’ll take a look at why people in love should choose to move in together, a number of different timeframes for cohabitation, and much more. Let’s begin!
How Soon Is Too Soon to Move In Together?
So, how soon is too soon to move in together? The truth is that there is no one right answer to this question, as the appropriate timing for moving in together in a romantic relationship can vary depending on the couple and their individual circumstances.
That being said, there are PLENTY of factors that you should consider before loading up that Uhaul and copying a new set of keys. Here are some of the most common reasons why people in a romantic relationship may choose not to move in together (at least immediately):
Lack of independence
Living together can strip individuals of their independence, which can cause tension and resentment in the relationship. If you’re used to not answering your romantic partner 24/7 when you’re at home or during your leisure time, it’s most likely not a good reason to move in at the earlier stages of a relationship.
Differences in habits and lifestyle
Two people who have lived independently for years may have established habits and routines that are hard to adjust to when living together. If you’re an early-morning riser and your partner likes to be a night owl, you can expect conflict to arise regarding sleep schedules, shared meal times, chores, and more.
Moving in together can put a strain on finances, especially if one partner makes significantly more or less money than the other. If you’re not fully aware of your partner’s financial status or believe that they’re a bit of a gold digger, living together can strain both the relationship and your bank account.
Different views on home life
There may be disagreements on how to decorate or maintain the living space, how to handle chores, or how to entertain guests. While those who live together eventually come to a compromise about what the ideal home life looks like, doing so in a new relationship may disrupt your living arrangement.
Lack of privacy
Sharing a living space can result in a loss of privacy, which can be difficult for some people. It may seem counterintuitive to intimacy, but privacy is important in romantic relationships to help one another recharge - particularly for introverted types of personalities. Furthermore, studies have shown that a lack of privacy may lead to avoidant behaviors to reclaim a feeling of privacy for mental well-being.
Killing the mystery
Moving in together too soon can take away from some of the romantic longings that fuel the early stages of a relationship. Much like reading a synopsis of a book instead of immersing yourself in page after page, knowing too much at once tends to make a romantic partner seem more ordinary, takes away sexual tension, and reduces the challenge of “earning” their romantic partner.
Moving in together can be seen as a step towards marriage or a more serious commitment, which some people may not be ready for. For example, moving in with a new partner may strain relationships with children from previous relationships, creating difficulties in ongoing custody battles especially when the mental health of children is taken into account. Similarly, if one or both partners have a demanding schedule (such as obtaining a doctorate), cohabitation may exacerbate temporary stressors.
Different long-term goals
If one partner is ready to settle down and start a family, while the other is focused on a career or travel, it can lead to conflict. While cohabitation may just be a temporary step until one partner sorts out their situation (ie. searching for a new residence, short-term financial setbacks), it can easily morph into a long-term living situation that doesn’t fit either partner’s long-term goals.
Separation from family
Everyone’s family dynamic is different, which cohabitation may put a strain on. Some people live with their parents or have obligations as a caregiver that make cohabitation a poor decision. For example, if there’s an ailing family member that requires assistance throughout the day, competing for attention or finding times of intimacy may not be a wise decision.
When Should I Move In With My Partner? A Comparison of Timelines
It's important to remember that every relationship is different and what works for one couple may not work for another. Therefore, individuals need to carefully consider the reasons for and against moving in together before making a decision.
To help you make a better-informed decision, let’s look at several timeframes, arrangements, and the factors that ultimately matter when deciding how long before moving in together actually makes sense:
After a few dates: Too soon
How soon is too soon to move in? Despite the allure of a new relationship, the truth is like so many love songs: “Only fools rush in…”
If you’re looking to move in with a new romantic partner in the span of a few days or several months after you’ve officially started dating, it’s probably WAY too soon to make a good decision. There are some exceptions to this rule, but those are certainly outliers and should be avoided.
Even if you’re swept up in a compatible romance that seems to check all of your boxes, it’s important to remember that dating is a trial period for both partners. Dating is meant as an exploration of two people’s compatibility, which is not always apparent within the first few dates (or even during longer periods of time). It’s not uncommon to develop resentments that were not present when both of you were on your best behavior out in public, only to be forced to confront those when you’re living with one another.
Dating for a year and beyond: A good time to move in together
Ideally speaking, when should a couple move in together?
The longer a couple has been together, the more likely they are to have a good understanding of each other and to have built a strong foundation for their relationship. This foundation is generally built around exclusivity in the relationship, where both partners stop dating other potential romantic (and sexual) partners. Similarly, you should understand each other’s faults fully and learn how to accommodate each other’s idiosyncrasies for the long-term health of a relationship.
Taking a scientific approach, Stanford University shed some light on the average time frame that couples move in together in their study entitled "How Couples Meet and Stay Together". The results of the survey found that approximately twenty-five percent of American couples who eventually moved in together do so within four months of dating, and half do so within a year. By the two-year mark, over seventy percent of these couples have moved in together.
A Middle Ground: Semi-Cohabitation
There is a midway approach to cohabitation, where one or both partners establishes a type of cohabitation that isn’t permanent. In these scenarios, partners may accommodate each other far sooner than signing a lease together or moving in all of their belongings.
By opening up their bedrooms, guest rooms, and other areas of their house to ease the logistics of being together, there’s a deepening of trust and intimacy between partners. This can be done simply by exchanging keys, leaving a backdoor open, or any other way of opening up your living arrangement.
The timeline for this type of semi-cohabitation, however, is a personal decision that should be based on fully understanding the benefits and risks of this arrangement.
In a practical sense, there are a few notable advantages and disadvantages of semi-cohabitation.
- On a positive note, both partners can still maintain their own residences for privacy, while enjoying intimacy and convenience while the relationship develops. Plus, this gives each person a better sense of what it would be like to actually live together.
- On the negative side, should things go awry or feel too rushed, there are far fewer entanglements that allow the relationship to scale things back until there’s more rapport in the relationship or establish more solid personal boundaries (of course, you should always be on guard for enabling access to your home due to criminal behavior and potential legal ramifications).
Before marriage: It depends…
According to a study on cohabitation conducted by Pew Research, more than ⅔ of adults saw cohabitation as a crucial step toward marriage. There are plenty of reasons for this significant number of responses, including (in order of priority):
- Formal Commitment
- Having Children
- Testing the Relationship
- One Partner was Pregnant
Despite these statistics, there are still many people around the world who avoid cohabitation for religious reasons. Many religions ban cohabitation before marriage because they believe that sexual relations should be reserved for marriage and that living together outside of marriage can lead to immoral behavior. Some religious teachings also hold that cohabitation can weaken the sanctity of marriage and undermine the traditional family structure.
For example, in Christianity, premarital sex is considered a sin, and cohabitation is often seen as a form of fornication. The Catholic Church also teaches that couples should not live together before marriage because it can distract from spiritual preparation for the sacrament of marriage and because it can lead to habits of intimacy that are inappropriate before the commitment of marriage.
Similarly, in Islam, premarital sex is considered haram (forbidden) and cohabitation is discouraged because it is seen as a step toward sin.
It's important to note that the views on cohabitation before marriage can vary within different denominations and sects of the same religion, and the interpretation of religious teachings on the subject can also change over time.
Ultimately, the timing of a move-in in a romantic relationship is a personal decision that should be made based on the couple's individual needs and circumstances. It's important for partners to take the time to consider their readiness and to have open and honest conversations about their expectations and concerns before making the decision to move in together.