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Dating vs. Living Together – What You Need to Know

At some point in a serious relationship, you’re probably going to want to make the step from dating to moving in together. When that happens, it is important to be aware of the differences between being a couple that lives separately and a couple that lives together.

Our most recent move has got me reminiscing on when Tim and I first moved in together, and all the things that changed in our relationship dynamic. Going from dating to living together wasn’t entirely natural for us.

Tim and I were knew we wanted to move in together immediately following our graduation from post-secondary. We were planning to move to a new town, so no point in waiting. We were already keeping certain items at each other’s apartments, anyway. Tim and I counted down the days where we would no longer need to buy and maintain two of everything. I especially couldn’t wait to have my entire wardrobe in one place again! On top of that, I was excited at the prospect of decorating a place of our own to call home.

I quickly realized that I was confusing movies with reality. While I love living with Tim, it certainly hasn’t been a picnic in the park. The truth is: combining everything you own and your standards with everything another person owns and their expectations can be extremely challenging. On top of that, there are things that come up when you’re living together that don’t really come up when you’re a dating couple living separately. These things can be awkward or difficult to discuss.

Combining everything you own and your standards with everything another person owns and their expectations can be extremely challenging. Click To Tweet

I assumed moving in with Tim would be a breeze. “We basically already live together”, I would say. “We both know how each other lives as we are constantly with each other, so there will be no difference.”

I was wrong. So, very wrong.

Being together 100% of the time is like… being together 100% of the time! That’s a huge change!! While we were hanging out basically every moment of the day prior to moving in together, we weren’t actually together ALL the time. We were still getting time to ourselves to hang out with our roommates or to just be alone.

When you move in, you don’t really get that time anymore. You’re now with another person every moment that you’re home. Of course you can go to separate rooms and have me time, but that’s just it, you get a room. Sometimes its nice to have full reign of your own house/apartment.

Questions for Before The Move

Before you even consider worrying about what moving in together will do to your relationship, make sure you have a conversation about financial responsibilities. Will you pool your money altogether, or will you each pick certain bills to be in charge of? If an appliance breaks, who will pay for it to be fixed? Do you need to create a budget or will you just go with it? (Create the budget, always create the budget!)

And, as much as you won’t like to discuss this, talk about the possibility of breaking up. Who will get what? Will you live our your lease if you’re renting? Where do the animals go?

These questions are incredibly important to have answered before anything goes wrong where you suddenly NEED the answer right away.

It’s also a good idea to make sure you both are on the same page in terms of your relationship. Are you both ok with staying in the dating field, or is one of you expecting an engagement soon?

baby and mom on moving boxes

Although living together will be a huge adjustment, it can be tons of fun with a lot of communication and effort. Here are the top things that will change once you move in together!

Best Self vs. Raw Self

One of the absolute best parts about dating is the ability to present your best self to your partner. You don’t need to see them if you don’t want to, and if you do want to, it is 100% on your terms. You can decide to only see them when wearing makeup, or after you’ve already seen your friends or been to the gym. If you want, you can avoid seeing them during stressful moments or between tight deadlines. Overall, you have full control over how and when your partner does and does not see you.

That completely goes away once you move in together.

Not only will your partner see you without makeup, with morning breath, and unbrushed hair, but they will also see you in your absolute rawest moments. So stressed out that you’re screaming at everyone and everything around you? They see it. Constipated and in pain? They see it. Breaking out worse than ever? They see it.

And you see them at their worst.

Once you move in together, you both lose your privacy. This can be stressful, but it can also lead to a better and more open relationship. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable in front of another is amazing for developing a relationship. You learn to support each other better, handle their worst moods, and help them reach their goals. And they do the same for you.

"u r hot" note

Compatible People vs. Compatible Roommates

The hardest adjustment for me when moving in with Tim was learning how to relinquish control on the placement of every possible thing in our apartment. My obsessive need led to some serious annoyance with Tim. I’d often find myself frustrated if he didn’t put something back exactly where I liked it – the bowls go to the left of the cups, the toothpaste goes back in the drawer, the leftovers go on the middle shelf, etc. (These are real examples…)

I knew Tim and I were very compatible people, so I was blindsided when I started disliking him as a roommate.  I had such high, unrealistic expectations for Tim that were impossible for him to reach, and quite frankly, he didn’t want to – and I don’t blame him!

On the other side, our cleaning standards were very different initially. Splitting chores were something neither of us was used to, and neither of us enjoyed. We both hoped the other person would do all the work, which just left no work getting done at all.

It was hard to go from compatible people to compatible roommates. Learning how to merge our things and split chores was a challenge. A challenge that we still struggle with from time to time (particularly me), but with a lot of communication, we have been able to find a nice balance that works for us.

Me Time vs. Us Time

One major thing that will change when you move in with someone is your ability to have “me time”. Some couples struggle to find a balance between finding time to be alone and feeling like they need to spend all their time together now that they live in the same place. It’s essential to find that balance in order to maintain your relationship while also fulfilling your need to do your own thing.

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It becomes a little more challenging to have “me time” when you live with someone, as your options are now slightly limited. For example: Tim and I have always been good at giving each other me time, but when you only have one tv and you both want to play a game console, you’ll need to decide who could do something else instead.

A major recommendation: learn how to be alone together.

Tim and I do this usually by him playing his PlayStation and me playing Sims on my computer. We tend to sit on our couches and occasionally share stories of what is going on in our games.

This helps us in that we get our own time to “recharge” but are still able to bond and be together.

couple making breakfast

Date Nights vs. Date Night-In

When you live together, it is especially easy to stop planning date nights. You may use the excuse that you can’t afford it, or there is no point because you’ve been together all day, or you’re too tired. However, none of these excuses are valid enough to put your relationship on the backburner.

Neglecting quality time is a gateway to living separate lives.

Instead, have a planned weekly date night. If you are low on cash – take a walk with no cell phones! Been together all day? – go to the movies! Too tired? – go eat some sushi and have a nap together after! Something as simple as a coffee date is extremely underrated as a good date idea.

It’s crucial to make your relationship a priority and that involves taking time out of your week to have one-on-one quality time. Make a game out of it – rotate weekly who picks the activity, use an online generator of date ideas, or create your own!

Of course, date night-ins are a good go-to when you need, but it’s also easier to get tempted into scrolling on social media or talking about the things that need to be cleaned or fixed around the house. Try to avoid these traps in order to get nice quality time together.

Privacy: The Good vs. The Bad

As mentioned above, your privacy is majorly affected when you move in with another person. The good news is that now that you’re living with someone you love, you don’t need to freak out if you forgot a towel for your shower.

The bad news is… dependent. Some people say moving in together is a “sexy time killer”, while others say it enhanced that part of their life. I’ve heard some say that their partner has now become “too comfortable” while others will freely announce when they need to defecate.

How your relationship changes in this dynamic is really dependent on who you and your partner are as people. Maybe one of you will love walking around naked leading to an increase in your sex life, and maybe one of you will be completely against all bodily functions being announced.

Have a discussion with your partner about what you expect in privacy and come up with your “hard no’s”.

New Levels of Relationship

One thing for certain when you move in with someone you’re dating is that you will reach new levels of your relationship. Agreeing to live together offers a stronger feeling of exclusivity and commitment, and you know these feelings are mutual or else you wouldn’t be agreeing to live together!

You’re going to learn new things about each other constantly, and get a lot weirder with each other! (You may not think the latter is true but I promise you it is!). You will have spontaneous deep conversations, dance-offs, and movie marathons. You’ll be able to pick goals together and better yourselves together!

Living together is hard, but so good.

The absolute number one thing that will make your transition from a dating couple to a living together couple successful is to place utmost importance on communication and compromise. Click To Tweet

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How moving in with your partner will change your relationship
how moving in with your partner changes your relationship

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