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When Should You Move in With Your Partner – 12 Relationship Experts Share Exactly their Best Tips + Insights

by Sherry Marshall – BSc, MAA, Teresa Petersen Mendoza – MS, LMFT, Isabel Kirk – MA, LPC, Sally Leboy – MS, MFT, Mara Fisher – L.C.S.W., M.C.C., Amy Sherman – M.A., LMHC, Vicki Langemo – LPC, MA, Lyndsey Fraser – MA, LMFT, Kimberly Atwood – MA, LPC, CST, Cynthia Pickett – LCSW, LADC, Amanda Patterson – LMHC, Morgain Hall – PhD

When Should You Move in With Your Partner

“Ten years from now, make sure you can say that you CHOSE your life, you didn’t SETTLE for it.”

~ Mandy Hale

Mandy Hale Chose Your Life and Did Not Settle For it
Lyndsey Fraser

If you understand your intention it will help you understand if this is the right step. Are you moving in as a way to save or expand the relationship? I have included lists below that will highlight each reason.

Relationship saving tactics:

  • He will want to marry me now.
  • I will lose the relationship if I don’t move in with him.
  • I will know what he is doing all the time and will no longer have to worry.
  • It will be cheaper for me financially.
  • He will understand my value if I maintain a house for him.
  • It’s what I should do we have been dating for a long time.
  • We argue consistently without resolution and this will be the fix.

Relationship expanding tactics:

  • I am ready to move to the next step in our relationship to see if this is a good fit.
  • Both of you understand expectations in the relationship moving forward.
  • You have a good balance of togetherness and separateness in the relationship.
  • We discussed our future goals as a relationship and the relationship is defined.
  • We understand each partner’s desired roles in the household.
  • You have had a major fight and were able to resolve it smoothly.
  • You are past the honeymoon phase in the relationship and see each other’s flaws.

When you look at this list ask yourself if you are looking to SAVE the relationship or EXPAND the relationship. 

If you are attempting to expand your relationship it is a good time to move in together. Understanding your intentions assists you in determining if moving in with your partner is the right choice. 

For partners to be most successful there needs to be a balance of togetherness and separateness. 

If you are too far on either dynamic the relationship will not be successful. If this is not balanced it is not wise to introduce another stressor such as living together.

Lyndsey Fraser, MA, LMFT – www.relationalconnections.com

Kimberly Atwood

Every couple is unique and has their own set of challenges when it comes to living together. Many people decide to live together prior to getting married for convenience, to share expenses, or to evaluate compatibility. 

For some, 6-months is long enough to know that moving in together is right, while it may take others much longer.

So, when do you know it is right for you? Take a serious inventory of your relationship as a whole. 

  • How much time are you spending together? 
  • Are you sleeping over at each other’s place relatively often? 
  • Have you been on a vacation together, and enjoyed it? 
  • Do you respect your partner? 
  • Do you feel respected by your partner? 
  • Can you be your authentic self with your partner? 
  • Is the ‘honeymoon’ period over? 
  • Can you talk about the pros and cons of moving in together? 
  • Are you open and honest with your partner? 
  • Do you argue and resolve issues fairly well together?

One of the most important determining factors is communication. 

  • Are you able to have disagreements and argue with effectiveness? 

If you are not arguing at all, there is usually a problem. I would recommend evaluating your own hesitation to argue. In addition, if you are arguing all the time, there is usually a problem. 

Notice if you are resolving issues during these disagreements. 

  • Are you effectively communicating about these issues or just “brushing them under the rug?” 

If you feel you are respectfully and effectively communicating with one another, then it might be time to move in together.

When it comes to evaluating communication, you are not looking for perfection; rather you are striving for ‘good enough’ effectiveness. 

Fortunately, effective communication can be learned. If communication is a struggle within your partnership, try something new before moving in together. You might surprise yourself.

Kimberly Atwood, MA, LPC, CST – www.KimAtwood.com

Cynthia Pickett

Taking the next step in a relationship is both scary and exciting! Since it is a major life decision it should be carefully considered in order to lessen the chance for future trouble and heartache.

First, while it is not as romantic rather than making the decision from your heart make it from your head. 

Please pay attention to all of the red flags! Do not minimize the faults and flaws of your partner and the relationship. Over time these things will likely intensify and become more of an issue. 

Know that the oddities that seem adorable today will turn into bigger annoyances tomorrow. Ask yourself are they really things you are willing to live with?

Another thing is that in this day of internet dating and long distance relationships I think it is very important to live in the same town before living in the same home. 

Not meaning to be deceitful, in general, people tend to be on their “best behavior” during the entirety of a distance relationship. This is true even if the relationship lasts for years! 

No matter how many vacations you have taken together or how many hours spent on the phone talking, these things do not give an accurate barometer of how compatible you are in a day in day out dating situation. 

Therefore, living in the same community with each other first will give you a much better idea of who the person really is and whether or not you are really compatible with each other.

Finally, take your time before moving in with each other. 

If you are really going to spend the rest of your life with each other there is no rush. Infatuation can be in full effect for up to three years. 

I always recommend waiting at least three years before making any major decisions about the relationship for that reason. 

Especially when children are involved slow and sure is always better than hot and heated. Take your time, fully evaluate, objectively explore, if this person deserves your love and loyalty.

Cynthia Pickett, LCSW, LADC – www.cynthiapickett.com

Amanda Patterson

You find yourself in a situation where you are questioning whether or not you should move in with your man. 

Moving in together is a decision that needs to be made with open communication between the two of you. 

Moving in together can be fun and exciting, but there are also the logistical parts of moving in together. If you and your significant other want to move in together and it feels right, why not do it? 

Here are a few things for you to consider and discuss before taking the next step.

1. Have you talked about what it means to move in together?

To one person, it might mean fewer bills. Another person is might mean that the next step is you are getting engaging. 

Having a candid discussion about what it means to move in together will be an impact topic to broach before you make the final decision to move in with each other.

2. Have you discussed and sorted out the finances?

When you move in, you aren’t just sharing bathroom space, you are sharing finances, even if you are going to keep them separate. 

  • Do you know how the other person is with finances? 
  • Do they have their bills on time? 
  • Do you have a lot of debt? What type of credit score do they have? 
  • What is their philosophy on saving versus spending? 

This may be the first time in your relationship you are having this type of discussion and again it is an important one to have prior to moving in.

3. Have you discussed expectations for each other?

Discussing expectations is another subject to open up. Maybe you think moving in together means you always have someone to hang out with on Friday nights, while your significant other now thinks he will see you every day of the week so he can take Friday nights for the boys. 

Having a discussion about expectations can feel anxiety-provoking; however the more open and honest you are with one another, the deeper level of communication and understanding you can bring to the relationship.

4. Have you discussed the logistics of the move?

There are several logistical things about moving that are not fun or sexy. 

  • When are you planning on moving in? 
  • Whose bedroom set are you keeping? 
  • How will you handle the closet space? 

Sorting through some of the logistics can help bring clarity as to whether or not a move right now is what you both need. 

Maybe your lease is up now and his isn’t up for 8 months; however the space he is in is just too small. The two of you may decide to wait until his lease is up while you explore an option to lease on a month to month basis.

5. Have you shared your feelings, thoughts and reservations about moving in?

You may be feeling a mixture of feelings about moving in together. You may be excited to embark on the next chapter on your relationship. You might be scared he will discover all of your nuances and see you in a different light. 

Having mixed emotions or a lot of feelings coming up is normal. Talking to your significant other about it is important. Share your feelings and be vulnerable with him.

Amanda Patterson, LMHC – www.amandapattersonlmhc.com

Morgain Hall

First, are you able to make yourself happy, meet your own needs, and be financially stable? 

If not, it is not time to make any important decisions.

Secondly, I know this will sound very old fashioned. 

I believe it is important to maintain your independence, especially before marriage. 

The very best time to move in together is just prior or after you are married. Why? 

Because, there is no commitment from either of you when living together. In my private practice I see married couples and cohabiting couples. 

There is a difference in the level of respect for each other, the idea of partners and equality, consideration and compassion shown to each other. You guessed the married couples, though struggling, exhibit more of these components than cohabiting couples.

Think about this, 

  • When you move in with your boyfriend have you thought about spending the rest of your life with his personality, habits, belief system, or the kind of role model he will be for your children? 
  • Do you like his family? 
  • Do they like and respect you? 
  • Do your parents like your boyfriend and visa versa? 
  • Does he treat you with the respect you deserve? 
  • Do you treat him with the respect he deserves?

Some of the cohabiting clients I see have eventually married the boyfriend. 

During their therapy they often complain about some aspect of the relationship or the boyfriend. I ask the hard questions, can you live with (bad or annoying habit, attitude, “issue”) the rest of your life. 

Of course they say yes. Then when I see them after the wedding the habits and beliefs still cause problems in the relationship.

Whether you are aware of it or not, no one is going to change after marriage or when you move in with him. 

I also have seen clients after the fallout of the relationship and someone moves out. It is much easier to leave than to work on the relationship. 

If you have a legal commitment, and understand that the commitment is for a lifetime, it is more likely the couple will work to fix a problem, no matter what it takes.

Are you willing to risk your future to what may be a temporary situation?

Dr. Morgain Hall – www.drmorgainhall.com

Sherry Marshall

Moving in with your partner is often seen as the next commitment in your relationship and it certainly is an important one. 

So ask yourself, is living together a good idea for you and how will you know? 

You are probably in love, so think and talk things through so you are sure you are not moving too quickly or for the wrong reasons that may cause future problems. 

If you approach this decision in a grounded, centered way and work through all the pro’s and cons, then the choice you make will probably turn out well.

Generally it’s advisable to wait at least a year of dating before you make a home together. 

Many people I see, as a couple’s therapist, live together after a few months and realize that they don’t know each other as well as they thought they did and end up separating. 

So, here are some key points to consider:

1. Check your motivation and that you are not just thinking you will have to pay less rent and it will be more convenient! 

Talk about finances. How are you going to deal with financial obligations? Are you going to keep your money separate or pool some or all of it? How are you going to deal with the fact that one of you may be a spender and the other one likes saving.

2. Is living together the step before getting married? 

If you don’t talk about it, you will get hurt if you find out he’s not interested.

3. Be sure you really like each other and get on very well together and share some similar interests/compatible lifestyles. 

If you are a vegetarian and he’s going to cook steak in the kitchen, how are you going to work that one out? Make sure you are comfortable together and know each other’s ‘good and bad’ habits.

4. Where will you live? 

His place, your place or are you going to move into a new home together? What furniture where, can cause all sorts of trouble. Are there going to be other people also living with you?

5. Do your and his friends get on reasonably well together? 

If not, why not? Who our friends are, tells us also about who we are.

6. How will you both deal with having less time and space to yourself?

7. Go on holiday together and even share accommodation for a few weeks before you make a final move. 

His living habits may surprise you. Or maybe you spend 4 or 5 nights together already. Romance sometimes lasts longer when dating, as you are not dealing with the nitty gritty details of everyday life and routine.

8. Know how you both behave in an argument and that you can work issues through. 

How do you both deal with stress and pressure? You need to know his relationship history/each other’s family history and have met significant family members. 

If either of you already have children, this needs to be thoroughly talked through in terms of sharing space, time allocated and expectations of roles. Are you also both wanting children or not?

9. Know what your expectations are of each other and that you can negotiate differences successfully.

All of the above may put you off but that isn’t my intention. I’m just saying that this a serious step you want to take. If you or your partner don’t want to consider these topics, you are probably not ready to move in together.

Sherry Marshall, BSc, MAA – www.naturaltherapypages.com.au/connect/sydneyprocesscounselling

Teresa Petersen Mendoza

So you are considering living together? Sharing a home? Picking out furniture? This can be fun, and bring a new level of intimacy to your relationship. 

However, I suggest clients consider four important questions prior to cohabitation.

1. Do either of you have children?

If you or your partner have children, think very carefully before moving in together. You don’t want to be responsible for children experiencing increased levels of grief and loss if the relationship doesn’t work out. 

I often have clients who seek advice from me about how to talk to their kids about why their boyfriend doesn’t live here any more. There is also a question of values that you are teaching your children. It is important to consider what values you want your child to hold and live accordingly.

2. Are you or your partner able to maintain your individual lifestyle if the other moved out?

Moving in with someone often helps to save some cash. However, if you live together there isn’t the same financial obligation as when married. 

Make sure you keep track of your finances and are sure that you can maintain your independence if necessary. This way, you will be choosing to stay in the relationship, not trapped in it because of financial issues.

3. Are you willing to delay marriage if you cohabit?

Statistics show that couples who cohabit, delay marriage. It may be due to more liberal value systems. If your goal is to get married sooner, then you probably shouldn’t live together.

4. Have you both discussed expectations for contribution to the household?

If you move into his home, he owns it regardless of whether you live there or not. Aside from utilities and food, I usually suggest clients don’t contribute to the mortgage or renovations. 

You don’t want to lose all of that equity if the relationship doesn’t work out. 

Buy furniture, paint a couple walls, but for the most part, don’t contribute what you can’t take with you. 

I suggest that clients discuss these expectations ahead of time and you can even draft a cohabitation agreement. 

This way, you avoid feelings of resentment and can just focus on enjoying the extra time together.

If you feel uncomfortable discussing these things one on one, consider seeking the support of a relationship coach.

Teresa Petersen Mendoza, MS, LMFT – www.linkedin.com/in/teresapetersen

Isabel Kirk

I believe the subject of moving in is a subject of closeness and separation. 

It is a matter of wanting more intimacy or not. Now the reason for that intimacy and the timing of it is the question. Relationships have stages and moving in is an action to represent a closer stage of intimacy. 

So some important considerations are:

1. Reason for moving in: 

Some women are afraid of losing the man or insecure about how much he is into her. So many times, they want to move in together sooner rather than later as a proof of what he is feeling or a signal of his commitment is serious. 


If you are doing it to feel closer in a way that you don’t feel otherwise, and he moves in to make you happy and not because he really wants to share more time with you, it is a recipe for disaster. 

Try to go for something more long lasting that instant gratification and address the real issue. Try to get closer by talking and sharing your needs and then assess if moving in is something that makes sense naturally.

2. Stage of the relationship: 

According to the pioneer of imago therapy (one of the most recognized relationships models), Harville Hendrix, PhD. there are three stages: 

  • Romantic love, when everything is wonderful. 
  • Power struggle, this is when the reality hits and the real negotiation and compatibility, ability to resolve conflict and satisfy both parties needs is going to happen or the relationship is going to end. 
  • Real love: when people accept each other and are able to work out differences. 

So moving in before some sort of success has been achieved in the second stage is highly recommended. You can see why. 

If you do it before and then your relationship doesn’t survive this phase, the pain and struggle will be very painful. So it would save a lot of heartache and headache to figure out part of this before the big decision.

3. Age or where you are in life: 

If you are young and not looking for the relationship or marriage to be your primary goal in life at this moment, the decision to move in with someone doesn’t have to be so transcendental. 

However, if you are in your mid 30s or looking for a marriage, then make sure you and your partner are on the same page and that this move is a step towards that direction. 

I know many women don’t want to ask these questions for fear or scaring the man of showing too much interest. 

So be true to yourself and ask directly. Don’t go with the assumption that moving in means he fully cares about you or wants something more serious.

Isabel Kirk, MA, LPC – www.dcvacounseling-psychotherapy.com

Mara Fisher

At one time I would have said that when you know you know so just jump.

That was before I was a seasoned couples therapist and fully understood how important sharing the same values are for a relationship to work well over time; with each partner feeling valued and appreciated.

So, when do you know if a person shares your values? 

My grandmother used to say that it is just ‘luck’; of course she came from a part of the world where marriages were often arranged.

One useful rule of thumb, is to date someone for at least two years before officially moving in with them. 

The reason for this is that you want to give time for the ‘in love’ phase to pass. 

During the first 6 months to 15 months of a relationship the endorphins such as Vasopressin are released, as are the chemicals Oxytocin, and Phenylethamine if you are sexually active, creating an almost euphoric feeling for some. 

Certainly these endorphins will stop you from making clear logical, pragmatic decisions and clear thinking from your head. 

These, after all, are the kind you want to take seriously if you are going to choose to move in with them.

Another useful tool is to write out what your values are and ask your partner to do this too. 

Be certain to list at least 20 and do this exercise separately. Then you can compare your lists and see where you are similar and where you differ. Then you can most certainly make a better choice for yourself.

If you’re choosing this partner to be the one you wish to share your life with, give yourself the gift of patience and you’ll find yourself to be more content together when it all comes to fruition because the timing is right.

Mara Fisher, L.C.S.W., M.C.C. – www.bridgeoflife.com

Amy Sherman

Healthy relationships move at a steady, but slow pace. 

You learn about each other by dating over weeks and months, by meeting his friends, by sharing common interests and by exploring new venues together.

If you find that he meets your criteria for a long-term relationship (share a common vision of your future, appear to be on the same page in terms of commitment, you get along well, etc) and you are ready to take the next step (give up your apartment, store your things, share expenses, etc.) then you may be ready to move in with him.

To be sure, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is this relationship really serious and can I still have my life and be part of his as well?
  2. Will moving in with him change who I am and what I want to do with my life?
  3. Are we spending so much time together now that moving in together would not change things too much?
  4. Do I love him enough to overlook some of his “quirky” behavior?
  5. Since moving in together is the closest things to being married, would I marry him if he asked?

Remember, you really know if this move is right for you, so don’t try to force it.

Before deciding, evaluate all the factors and if there is any doubt, don’t rush or act impulsively. It’s always good to trust your instincts. 

Since this is an important next step in your relationship, you want to be sure that the decision is a good one for your life and overall well-being.

Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com

Vicki Langemo

I believe the answer to this question needs to come from both your heart and your brain and needs to be asked of both people before taking this step.

Here are the first set of questions:

  • Do I love/deeply care for this person?;
  • Are we both ready for a long-term committed relationship?;
  • Do we communicate in a healthy and respectful manner?;
  • Are we able to work out our disagreements and come to positive solutions that take into account both our unique personalities?;
  • Are we willing to make this relationship a priority and work hard to make it a good one?;
  • What are our long-term expectations for this relationship?; and
  • Is my partner willing to talk things out, show respect and make compromises in difficult situations?

Here are the practical questions to ask each other, answer and put down in writing in case things do not work out: 

  • Who will pay for the rent/mortgage or how will it be divided?
  • Who will pay for which utilities?
  • Whose name (thus ultimate responsibility) will be on the bills?
  • Can we agree to where we will move, set up the household so that it fits our budget? and 
  • What happens if one person decides to move out so that it is fair for both people?

If you can answer all these questions and still feel good about the move then your relationship is mature enough to take this next big step.

Vicki Langemo, LPC, MA – www.supportivetalk.com

Sally LeBoy

Moving in together will not make your relationship better. 

It won’t change the problematic aspects of your relationship. It won’t create trust, generosity, values, respect or even basic compatibility. Those are the qualities that you each bring into the relationship whether you are sharing a living space or not.

Living together gives you the opportunity to test your life-style compatibility.

  • Can you live with a morning person?
  • How much messiness, neatness can you tolerate?
  • Can you handle living with someone who has his kids every other week?

You have the opportunity to experience the day to day living that goes along with sharing a house. 

When you are dating you can leave those aspects of your partner’s life that you don’t enjoy. When you live together you have to adjust and compromise. There’s something to be said for figuring that out before you make those final vows.

Living together can be a step toward evaluating your own personal ability to tolerate commitment, to see how well you function in a committed relationship.

As in marriage, when you live with someone you must manage yourself 24/7, not just when you are at your best. There is nowhere to go when things are difficult. You are already there, in your shared space.

More importantly living together can increase your awareness of your personal ability to tolerate the anxiety that may accompany an increased level of commitment. 

Most people assume that not only can they tolerate commitment; they believe they are actively seeking it. That’s not always true. 

If you grew up in a difficult family, commitment can feel scary. 

Increased levels of commitment can activate the fears and defense mechanisms that characterized your family of origin experience.

Although I still think actual marriage is more of a test of your comfort with commitment, living together comes pretty close. Culturally, marriage signifies the ultimate commitment. As such, it usually arouses the most anxiety. 

For some reason, living together just doesn’t seem quite that committed. 

I knew a couple who lived together well for ten years. They got married and divorced the following year. The commitment of marriage was just more than they could emotionally handle.

Living together isn’t a requirement for marriage. 

In fact, you could make the argument that if you are committed enough to live together you should be committed enough to get married. Don’t live together as a way to fix problems.

Fix the problems and then decide if you need to know in advance whether or not putting the cover back on the toothpaste or forever walking into a bathroom with the toilet seat up is a deal breaker. 

I think living together can give you important information about your life-style compatibility, but it won’t fix basic problems- yours, his or the relationships.

Sally LeBoy, MS, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com

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