Making the leap from dating to cohabitation can be daunting; on top of trying to combine two lives worth of belongings into one space, there’s the added tension of wondering if you’ll even be able to get along. Before you sign that lease, here are ten ways you can test your compatibility.
- Go On Vacation – Take a trip together, preferably a road trip. Being in such close quarters while you travel and sharing a small hotel room will give you a decent idea of each others’ habits, and an opportunity to have a long discussion.
- Visit the Family – It’s almost impossible to be anything but yourself when visiting the parents. Take turns spending holidays or special occasions with your separate families; in addition to seeing each others’ true colors, you can also get a feel for future gatherings as a couple.
- Extended Sleep Overs – Spending one or two nights a week together won’t provide a clear picture; before moving in to a shared space, it’s a good idea to spend at least two weeks in the same house. Because you’re both likely to still be on your best behavior, if you’re ready to tear your hair out within a few days, you might want to rethink moving in.
- Talk About Where You Want to Live – One of the most important decisions you’ll make as a couple starting a life together is where to live. Will one of you move into the home the other already has? If so, will that person be able to shelve possessive tendencies of the space? Many couples opt to find a new place together to avoid this, but if it isn’t feasible for your relationship, you’ll need to be aware of how much adding a new person to a home will change it.
- Have a Long Discussion About Finances – Though wanting to avoid discussions about a possible breakup is natural, it’s important to talk about how it would affect you financially if you’re living together. If you’re planning to get a new home together, it’s a good idea to be sure that one person can afford to keep it should you break up. Also, you’ll need to be aware of each other’s spending habits to avoid future fights over money.
- Get a Joint Checking Account – Opening a joint checking account can be a great way to learn each other’s financial habits. It might be best to keep a relatively small balance at first, since it’s a financial experiment of sorts.
- Wait a While – Even if you think you’re ready, wait a bit longer to move in. The longer that you’re together but living separately, the more time you’ll have to get accustomed to one another. Habits and pet peeves that would rear their heads early in a cohabiting relationship might take much longer to discover otherwise.
- Know Where You Both Stand on Marriage – Some couples view cohabitation as test-driving marriage, while others see it as the end of the commitment line. Often, people hesitate to bring up the subject for fear of scaring the other person away, but if you’re committed enough to consider living together, this shouldn’t be an issue. If one of you would like to one day get married, while the other has no desire to formalize a relationship, it will only lead to trouble down the line. You should both know exactly what your plans are before you pack the first box.
- Make Some Rules – No matter how much you love one another, living together is still an arrangement. Deal-breakers should be discussed openly to avoid unpleasant surprises down the line. Remember, getting out of an unsuitable relationship is exponentially more difficult after you’ve moved in together.
- Talk About What You Can Part With – Unless you both have an unlimited income, you’re probably not going to be able to afford a space large enough for both of you to keep everything you own. He might have to part with the futon he’s had since college, she might need to sell her extensive porcelain doll collection. One of the conversations you should definitely have is what you can stand to part with and what is absolutely part of the package.
While these tips will help you go into cohabitation with a bit more information, it’s important to realize that there really are no sure-fire methods for learning each others’ quirks before moving in. Some things won’t come to light until the honeymoon period ends, which can take months. Be prepared to learn new and sometimes surprising things about your mate each and every day after you start sharing living quarters.