While this may not come as a total shock, more couples are shacking up before they put a ring on it. According to the latest data from the CDC, nearly half of American women aged 15-44 have lived with a partner sans wedding ring between 2006-2010, up from just 34 percent of women in 1995. And according to experts, that number has probably continued to rise since 2010.
Sure, it’s cheaper and easier to share a space when you’re spending so much time together anyway, but experts say those shouldn’t be your main motives. “Don’t move in because it’s convenient, your lease is up, and he’s got a good place,” says Diana Kirschner, PhD, author of Sealing the Deal: The Love Mentor’s Guide to Lasting Love. “Previous research shows that couples who have a commitment before they live together actually do better.” That commitment doesn’t need to be a proposal necessarily, but it’s crucial to at least know that you’re both in it for the long haul.
Not sure if you and your guy should do the roommate thing just yet? Aside from being totally committed to each other, here are four signs that you’re ready to shack up:
Your bond keeps getting stronger
Take a look at where you and your guy were two months ago versus where you are today, says Kirschner. It’s important that the relationship is on an upward trend, meaning that things are getting better—not worse. If you’re both feeling closer emotionally, communicating more, and experiencing fewer conflicts, you’re in the clear.
So what if things are great, but you’re at a standstill? It still might be a good time to move in together, but don’t shack up just because you want to use it as a way to move the relationship forward. “If you want to get married in a few years and he doesn’t, moving in together isn’t going to change anything,” says dating expert David Wygant, author of Naked! How to Find the Perfect Partner By Revealing Your True Self. But if you’re both committed and your goals for the future match, go for it!
You know what kind of person he is at home
So you’re cool with him leaving the toilet seat up, and he can deal with your Real Housewives obsession—but there’s way more that you need to know about each other’s secret habits. “When you’re together three nights a week, you’re still on your best behavior,” says Wygant. His suggestion: Live together for a one-week, no-judgment trial run. Bonus if you can do one week at your place and one week at his to get an even better sense of how living together might work. Aside from getting a read on each other’s cleanliness level, you’ll learn things like how the other spends their downtime and if they blow up when they’re running late in the morning, says Wygant. If you know all of this ahead of time, you won’t be blindsided by any unpleasant surprises down the road.
You’ve discussed the worst-case scenario
It sounds grim to discuss a breakup when you’re on the brink of moving in together, but experts say it’s a necessary conversation. “You need to know what’s going to happen if things go south,” says Kirschner. “Do you get the puppy and he gets the TV? Do you know who would move out?” Having this conversation will help you realize the weight of moving in together, and it may even make you appreciate your bond more, says Kirschner.
You’ve talked about the logistics
As unromantic as it is to talk about finances and household chores, you’re going to have to if you want to share a space with him. Sit down and discuss everything from closet space and bills to how often you’ll invite people over or want some alone time, says Kirschner. “It often doesn’t end up how you plan it, but the main thing is that you have a good working teammate relationship,” says Kirschner.