Your relationship is blossoming: You have a toothbrush and a week’s worth of outfits stashed at his place, his friends are quickly becoming your buds, and his mother adores you (though she’s adamant about giving you cooking lessons). But is it really time to give up your lady cave a.k.a. studio apartment to build a life with him? No matter who you are, the prospect of settling down can be downright terrifying. You’re putting your heart on the line, after all!
With that in mind, we asked two relationships experts for their professional advice on how long you should wait before shacking up, where you should be emotionally before making the move, and red flags that spell danger.
How long should you wait before moving in with your boyfriend or significant other?
It may be tempting to move in with your guy as soon as the lease to your apartment is up for renewal, especially if you can feel the emotional connection (and your sex life) heating up. But to protect your heart (and finances!), you should avoid making the big move until enough time has passed.
“You should wait at least six months before you move in with somebody,” David Wygant, an internationally-recognized dating and relationship coach, says. “You should at least go through a cycle with them.”
And remember: Spending the weekend together versus spending every single night in the same apartment can be wildly different experiences. Habits like “forgetting” to do laundry for three months or leaving Chinese takeout containers on the stovetop can seem cute –when you’re not living with him!
Wygant advises, “If you’re serious about moving in with somebody, have a couple of trial one-week and two-week segments where you’re actually in each other’s faces, coming home to one another, see how you are after a hard day at the office, and so on. See if the relationship is still something you want.”
Where should we be emotionally?
We’ve all witnessed this: Your old college roommate elopes with the “love of the week her life” who can’t hold down a job and plays video games all day long. Frustrated, she sleeps with his best friend and the relationship crashes and burns.
As this is a situation we’d rather not be in ever, it’s vital to be in an emotionally mature state before settling down. So what does that mean, exactly?
“Emotionally, you need to be clear with who you are personally,” Wygant tells us. “You need to know exactly what you want in your lover and have done work on yourself.”
Most importantly, Wygant adds, “You need to know the type of relationship you want to experience and you need to be ready to have that type of relationship.”
Now if only our college pal followed this advice!
For women who are divorced or widowed, April Braswell, the senior singles advice columnist at DatingAdvice.com, advises, “Do wait until the initial turmoil has passed and you’ve sought out some personal development professional help. These life events and the personal growth process they trigger will reshape you into a new you, one who is a bit more mature. Let those changes integrate. Yes, do get out and socialize and date. However, wait until you feel that process has shifted you into the stable new version of you before you endeavor to attract your new life mate for this phase of your life. You don’t have to be perfect at this point. But you do need to be financially stable and viable to attract a true life partner.”
What are the big red flags that signify you should re-think moving in with your boyfriend or significant other?
You’ve run far, far away from the liar, the cheater, the jealous jerk, the workaholic, and the chronically-unemployed moocher. But are there are subtle red flags you could be missing under all the wining, dining, and steamy sex?
It’s generally bad news “when you’re the one who’s painting the picture of what a future’s going to be like together,” Wygant says. “They just sit there and shake their head and agree. Then when you ask them what they want, they say ‘Everything that you want’ yet they don’t describe it personally.”
Adds Braswell, “Some of the senior male singles are just plain lazy. They start asking for ‘committed’ monogamy from you at the start of the relationship. Mature ladies, don’t you let him. Don’t agree too soon and take yourself off the market until his behavior and his words warrant it.”
What will signify that settling down is the right move?
Your relationship is red flag free (you lucky, lucky lady), but you should also be able to check off these three key components before packing your bags:
- You both have worked things out; you’ve had arguments, you’ve had fights, you’ve had resolution, you’ve had conflict, and you’ve been able to work through it.
- You’ve learned each other’s language of love. You’re able to fill it up immensely.
- You’re able to be two independent people, yet coexist together.
Tell us: Does your relationship pass the move-in test? Are you planning to move in with your guy (or is he about to call your place home)?
Diana Denza is BettyConfidential’s contributing editor.