Moving in together

Moving in with your partner is usually the Next Big Step in a relationship. But, though the thought of waking up next to their bonny face each morning is romantic, are you ready for the reality? And have you talked through what you both expect?

Couple with moving boxes on their heads

Moving of relationship's biggest tests.

Are you ‘sliding’ or ‘deciding’?

OK, so that sounds jargony, but it’s an important distinction to make. Maybe you think it makes sense rent-wise, or it’s the easiest way to see each other around your demanding jobs. These are valid reasons to move in, but you also need to examine, emotionally, what it means to both of you before you start flat hunting.

“Ask yourself, what’s moving in together about?” says Dr Janet Reibstein, psychologist and professor at Exeter University. “Is it about convenience, or is the next step in your relationship? You need to decide this first.”

Are you ‘ready’ to move in together?

This is different for every couple and, ultimately, it’s your decision. However, there are a few things you should probably think through first:

Are you ready to alter your private life?

Your private life – when you see your mates, how late you stay out, what and when you eat, how much TV you watch – every habit you’ve built for yourself will need to be renegotiated. Are you ready for that?

Moving in won’t work if you carry on exactly as you’ve been doing, just with your partner sharing your bed. You’re now making and sharing a ‘home’ together – your actions will affect them and vice versa. It ain’t romantic, but you need to discuss and decide what’s what before you sign a contract.

“Your life’s no longer lived on its own, it’s lived with an impact on someone you love,” says Dr Janet. “You’re both giving up your private rights, and you need to renegotiate them. You need to be prepared for the relationship to control things and you can’t just say ‘but I want to do this.’”

Sounds scary? Daunting? Not so lovely as you thought? We know, but it’s important to think this through beforehand. If you’re not ready to share and compromise your lifestyle, then maybe you’re not ready to move in just yet.

What does moving in together mean for both of you?

You may think moving in is a great way to save on rent and get a bit more sex in mid-week. That’s fine if your partner agrees. But what if they’re thinking: ‘this is the next step towards marriage’? What if, after a certain amount of time, they’re assuming a proposal is on the cards? Make sure you’re on the same page; otherwise you’re setting yourself up for a cohabital nightmare filled with unsubtle hints and passive-aggressive comments.

“Most people cohabit before they get married,” says Dr Janet. “Therefore some people assume living together is a step towards a wedding and get confused if that doesn’t happen.

“It’s a really hard conversation to have, but it’s important to discuss what moving in means in terms of your future.”

Think about the logistics of moving in

So, emotionally, you’re ready to share a bathroom. That’s great, but hang on a moment, there’s a few more kinks you need to iron out first.

Have you thought about:

  • WHERE to live? Have you found a location that will work for both of you? If one of you has a much longer commute, or doesn’t like living somewhere noisy when you like ‘the buzz’, this can lead to resentment.
  • HOW to combine your stuff? Two lives worth of crap = one messy disorganised mess of a home. Have you chatted about what you’re bringing with you? Even little things like what to hang on the walls can cause friction.
  • CAN you live with the inevitability that you’ll soon know what your partner’s poo smells like? And still fancy them?

Keeping the love alive

Since lolling in front of the TV together in stained onesies is not the height of romance, you’re going to have to work hard to keep that flame burning.

  • Invite your partner on a date night – it’s a cliché, but quality time where you get out of the house is extremely important.
  • Interact with others, as a couple. Seeing your partner chatting animatedly will remind you there’s another side to the stressed-out tired person with morning breath you wake up to each day.


Next Steps

  • Do you want to understand your relationship better? Love Smart helps you work it all out.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.


moving in


Updated on 29-Sep-2015

Photo of boxes on heads by Shutterstock