In Hump Day, award-winning psychotherapist and TV host Dr. Jenn Mann answers your sex and relationship questions — unjudged and unfiltered.

By Dr. Jenn Mann
Updated Mar 04, 2020 @ 2:30 pm
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DEAR DR. JENN,

My partner and I have been together for almost a year now. All my friends keep asking when we are moving in together. How do I know when our relationship is really ready for such a big step? —Conflicted About Cohabitating

DEAR CONFLICTED ABOUT COHABITATING,

Moving in together is a huge step — both emotionally and logistically. What used to be considered a taboo rebellious act has become a normal developmental stage in a relationship. In a 2010 study of the two prior decades, researchers found that cohabitation increased by 82 percent for women ages 18 to 44. Previous generations were told that if they “gave away the milk for free” no one would want to “buy the cow.” Putting aside the offensive comparison between women and cows, it is also a terrible analogy. Most women and men want to test drive that car before buying it. Living together is a great test drive. Whether or not you want to get married one day, living together is an important step that deepens the relationship and the connection.

But how do you know if you are ready? Is there a timeline? What needs to occur before you take the plunge? Here’s what you need to have experienced to be ready to take it to that next level.

1. You've made it past the honeymoon stage.

Wondering how soon is too soon to move in together? Do not move in while you are in the serotonin endorphin filled honeymoon stage of the relationship when the sex is hot and all you can see if how much alike you are. Wait until you have passed the honeymoon stage. It is not until you have survived your first fight, seen each other’s imperfections, and negotiated your differences that you know if you have a viable relationship. This usually takes place around the 18-month mark.

2. You have both said “I love you.”

This is a significant marker of attachment and commitment, so it's an important milestone to have before moving in together. If you feel it and haven’t already said it you may not have the kind of communication needed for living together — or it may just be too early in the relationship. Living together often brings up conflicts and issues. Knowing that there is a mutual love between the two of you is an important foundation before taking that step.

3. You are committed to each other.

If you a in a monogamous relationship, you have established that and are both on the same page. If you are in an open relationship, you have agreed to be one another’s primary. You are both clear on the expectations, commitment, and boundaries expected by one another.

4. You spend the night together on a regular basis.

Your relationship has progressed to the point where you spend so much time together that it makes sense to share a home. Especially in big, expensive cities, couples often decide to move in together prematurely for the wrong reasons. You should not make this decision based on finances or because you can't find a roommate on your same lease schedule, but because you actually want to spend more time together.

5. You are integrated into one another’s lives.

Beyond simply wanting to spend more time together in your new digs, being integrated into each other's networks is key; everyone should know that you are a couple. You should have already met each other's family, friends, and coworkers. This gives both of you the opportunity to see your partner interact in a variety of different circumstances and situations.

6. You talk about a future together and are on the same page.

If you are marriage oriented, you have talked about it and share the same goal. If you are hoping to have a child together, you have discussed it and are on the same page. Bottom line: Before taking this step, you should share the same values and want the same things for your future.

7. You are ready to share financial information.

By nature, moving in together requires dealing with money. You are ready to disclose your financial situation, create a budget together and be forthcoming about your financial history. You are game to discuss how you will handle bills, who will pay for what and what you will do if someone runs into financial problems.

8. You are mature enough to make a breakup plan.

Before moving in together, you need to be willing and able to discuss how you will handle the logistics and finances if things don’t work out. As with a prenup, no one wants to discuss the possibility that things might not work out, but it's a crucial step before sharing a home and a life together.