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Living with a partner has become a popular and viable alternative to or preparation for marriage. You may think that moving in and living with your boyfriend is a good next step for your relationship. That may or may not be true, and it’s not a decision that you should take lightly.
So what do you really need to know before making such a big commitment?
These six pros and cons will help you make the best decision and give you some insight about what may be going through your boyfriend’s head throughout this process.
Make sure you are both aware of these points and be honest about if you’re both mature enough to capitalize on the pros and deal with the cons.
Pro: You’ll Be Saving Money
Saving money may be one of the primary and most obvious reasons you’re considering living with your boyfriend.
There’s no denying that having two incomes to pay for a place to live definitely saves each person some cash.
Even if one of you doesn’t work, it splits the burden of responsibility for housework, cooking, errands, etc. between two people. This saves times for the person who is working.
The benefits are undeniable.
Don’t just assume saving money in this way is without its own challenges, however.
It’s important to have the conversation about money since you will be paying many of the same bills (or splitting them).
Are you both going to keep all your financials separate?
That’s going to be hard to do unless you are very specific about who is paying for each and every expense, date, and joint impulse buy. This could put a strain on your relationship.
Are you going to have shared AND separate accounts? This is a pretty common solution, but still takes a good amount of communication.
Pooling everything together definitely helps with transparency and communication. However, it can be difficult to do from a legal and liability perspective if you’re not married.
Con: You Have Less Personal Space
You may have more money, but you’ll also have less personal space to keep all your stuff.
Hopefully your boyfriend doesn’t have more shoes, clothes, and hair products than you (no judgment either way). But that doesn’t mean he won’t need some significant space for what he does bring.
While living alone, you might have had a whole closet for your shoes and clothes, and all the bathroom space for yourself. That won’t go over well now that you’re living with your man.
Relegating his stuff to a small cupboard in the bathroom or a single shelf in the closet probably isn’t going to go over well.
Talk with him about what he needs for space before the move takes place.
This might include his morning routine, whether he’s attached to a closet vs. a dresser, and what his grooming (shaving, showering, etc.) practices are.
Be generous about how much you can give him. But also be clear about your expectations for cleanliness and picking up after himself.
Try to come up with some creative solutions for maximizing storage if you’re short on space, or you can both try to give away some stuff you’re not using so you don’t use up space you don’t have.
Pro: It’s Great For Communication Practice
Living with your boyfriend is a great way to practice more communication and conflict resolution without necessarily having the high stakes or the emotional investment of marriage involved.
Sometimes the fact that people are married carries a lot of emotional and cognitive pressure. This can make people take things more severely or lead to faster escalations of fights.
For people who struggle with this type of emotional sensitivity, moving in together can take off some pressure and lead to better long-term communication.
Take some pressure off yourself to have the perfect relationship. Take time to learn to communicate.
Look at successful and healthy couples you respect and copy their communication techniques.
Maybe you’ll break up. Perhaps you’ll stay together, but won’t get married. It's possible you’ll tie the knot…
No matter what the future of your relationship holds, if you use this time to work on better communication, you’ll see an improvement in all types of relationships in your life.
Con: You May Nag Him More
With less personal space, more exposure to your boyfriend’s habits, and increasing opportunities for communication, you may be tempted to “nag” more.
Nagging is when you repeatedly and frequently ask for something to be done, often with a negative or critical tone.
Believe me, I know men need a good kick in the pants…
A lot of times we’re lazy bums who just want to eat Cheetos on the couch in our underwear and don’t want to do something if it’s not important to us.
No wonder nagging comes so naturally — men should nag themselves more!
Nagging is the death of relationships though. So find some other ways to convince him and motivate him to do what you need him to do.
Withholding sex comes to mind. Though I usually discourage that form of manipulation, it can be effective.
The best course of action is to just show him how important the chore (or whatever) is to you.
Remind him that he loves you, so he should be willing to do these things for you without you having to ask so many times.
Learn to speak his “love language” (read more about my analysis of The 5 Love Languages here), and he should respond.
You can come up with a system or a “honey do” list if you need to. If, after a while he’s still unresponsive to your needs, it shows you what kind of man he is.
Don’t bother nagging at that point — find someone who is more worthy of you!
Pro: You’ll Know All His Habits
Living with your boyfriend gives plenty of time to slowly adjust to his habits (and him to yours).
This can help you really decide what’s a deal breaker and what you should learn to get over without a scary prenup or divorce influencing your decisions.
How are you going to deal with him leaving his beard clippings in the sink? Or his dirty laundry on the floor? Or the big one… leaving the toilet seat up!
How is he going to adjust to seeing your feminine hygiene products in the garbage? Or the clumps of hair that clog the shower drain?
These little habits shouldn’t be deal breakers. But they take some getting used to, and are often “eye opening” experiences to newly married couples who have never lived together.
Or maybe he never cleans up after himself, plays video games all day, and can’t settle on a job or career because he’s always dreaming of “hitting it big” in some other job.
These are things you don’t necessarily realize about someone until you live with them. But they can put a serious strain on a marriage.
While moving in together is still a big commitment, and you should be willing to compromise on a lot of things, if you find out he’s a complete bum, you can still move out with few consequences.
Con: Your Life Is Completely Exposed To Him
When you move in together, there’s no hiding yourself from the other person.
You’ll have to smell his farts and his poops, deal with his dirty laundry (probably stained with aforementioned poop), and witness him clipping his toenails in bed.
He’s going to see you in the morning with crazy hair and no make-up, realize you can’t cook, and maybe even sink to your cycle, becoming just as hormonal as you at times.
There will be no hiding your bad habits. This can (and should) lead to some serious relationship growth, commitment, and intimacy.
However, it can also completely destroy your relationship as the image of the person you thought you loved fades away and the real person comes into focus.
This is the inevitable destination of all serious relationships. But it can be put off for a reasonable amount of time by not moving in together too soon.
If you’re not ready to fully “see and be seen,” consider waiting to move in together.
Pro: Breakups Are Cheaper Than Divorce
Breaking up sucks no matter when you do it, but it’s more expensive and emotionally taxing if you’re already married.
By the time you get divorced you might already have kids, joint assets, and a sordid history together that complicates the entire process of deciding who gets what.
Lawyers are expensive and usually have no reservations about getting rich off your break-up.
Breaking up when you live together still comes with its challenges. But they usually don’t involve a lawyer or kids, and don’t come with the title of “divorcee.”
Still, if you’re going into the situation in order to see if you want to break up with this person, you’re probably going to find some reason to end it.
Being cheaper than divorce is a perk, but it shouldn’t be the reason you’re moving in together. You should already be reasonably sure it’s going to work out.
Con: You’ll Have Blurred Boundaries
Without very excellent and transparent communication, “just” moving in together can blur boundaries.
Are you even thinking of getting married? Just how committed are you to each other if you can’t pull the trigger? Are you still romantic, or are you slowly becoming roommates?
There can be definite advantages of not getting married while still living with your boyfriend. However, you need to be mature and have those conversations about expectations.
Furthermore, since you’re sharing a space, you need to make sure it’s an “our” space, not a “his” space or “my space.”
To make this easier, try getting a new place together rather than moving in with him or vice versa. If this is a permanent thing, you need to start a completely new life together.
If you try to move one person into another’s space, most times there will be at least a little resentment on both sides.
Pro: Intimacy Will Be Much Better
One of the biggest advantages of moving in together is that you get a lot of opportunities for deeper, more authentic intimacy.
You get to wake up slowly together and just snuggle for a while. And you can do it every day if you want.
You can also have deep conversations, face to face, at any time of the day. You'll probably cook dinner and have meals together more consistently.
Take care of each other when you’re sick. Have sex any time you want, anywhere in the house…
This is the best part of living together, whether married or not, and can lead to a rich, deep connection unlike any other you know.
Con: You May Smother Each Other
With this excellent potential for intimacy comes an increasingly abundant chance for one of you to feel smothered.
If one person is prone to be codependent, you might end up suffering from feeling smothered.
When you’re living with your boyfriend, you both need to find time to spend alone or with other friends, so you don’t get burnt out of the relationship.
It’s fine, and perfectly natural, if one partner is more “needy” than the other. That can be easily dealt with.
But if it develops into codependency, that’s not healthy for anyone involved.
It’s possible for this to happen while you’re not living together. However, the frequency with which you will be together will make it a greater possibility.
Talk with each other about expectations. How often will you each go out with friends? How much alone time do you each need?
Where is a safe space each of you can go to be alone? This kind of communication is essential to a relationship and will help prevent either of you from feeling smothered.
Pro: You Can Avoid Marriage
Marriage is unappealing to a lot of 20-30 somethings, or those who have already had a divorce.
Moving in together, especially when explicitly in a committed and permanent fashion, can be a great way to live out a long-term relationship without the marriage baggage.
Sure, you probably miss out on the presents. And many people think there is some ineffable quality that comes with being married.
But if it’s not for you, you shouldn’t feel pressured into it!
Con: It’s A Pseudo Commitment
In some cases, moving in together, especially to “see if this will work” is a form of pseudo-commitment.
You could expect it not to work out or find ways to sabotage the relationship while appearing to be more committed because you moved in together.
While this is cheaper than divorce, it can be just as emotionally damaging. Don’t move in with your boyfriend unless you’ve talked about it and you’re both committed to the relationship.
It’s going to be hard enough already without expecting it to fail or not being sure of where the relationship stands. It shouldn’t be an impulse decision.
Moving in together is easier for some couples. And while it may be something you want to work toward, not all couples are ready for it or suited to it.
If you’re mature enough, and have considered all the pros and cons, talk with your boyfriend and make the decision together.