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Moving in with your significant other: in today’s world, it means that you beat the odds and found someone to love (and who loves you). You’re lucky! By now, you may have been dating for some time, and you feel like it’s the right next step in your relationship. For many couples, the decision to move in together isn’t one that can be made lightly. But how do you know that this transition is coming at the right time? If you’ve done the research, you may have found that most couples (depending on where you live in the United States) move in together after about 17 months of dating. But no two relationships are the same, and while it may be comforting to look at yours in the same context as others, it may not be the healthiest way to measure one’s readiness. So, here are 10 ways you can decide with the big move is the right move for you!

1- You know your SO’s quirks and habits — and you accept them.
The more time you spend with someone, the more you get to know them. And if you spend day and night with them, staying in their home, you start observing how they live their life. The mundane things matter: maybe your SO tosses and turns in their sleep a lot. Maybe they like to wake up late, when you’re an early riser. And how important is making the bed to you? All these factors are things that you will have to live with when you share your life — and your space — with another human being. If you understand that these quirks and habits are actually endearing, and not annoying, you may be ready to move in with your SO.

2- There is no ulterior motive for moving in together.
An ulterior motive for moving in may be revealed sooner or later, whether you like it or not. More often than not, it’s an unhealthy reason that can break your relationship — and that’s not something you want when you’re living under the same roof as your significant other. Ulterior motives may include pressure from friends and family, the need to keep an eye on your significant other, or even financial reasons. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily apply to all couples — but if you’re nervous about moving in with your SO, you’ll want to do it with a clean conscience and goodwill!

3- You’ve talked about the future and your expectations.
Moving in can be the start of a wonderful future together, but if you don’t talk about it, you may not know if you are on the same page about what that future holds for you as a couple. Does it include marriage? Children? Pets? If you agree on what this big transition means for your lives together, you may feel better about taking the leap.

The same goes for cleanliness: would you tolerate your partner’s clothes all over the floor? How often will the dishes be cleaned? How will you divide chores? Don’t get caught off-guard, so discuss your behavior and habits with each other — just remember that both of you will likely make some compromises, and that your life won’t be exactly the way it was before.

4- You’ve talked about finances.
Are you in debt, or do you have student loans that you are still paying off? Finances and money managing are not fun topics, but a necessary ones to talk about if you’re going to be splitting everything from groceries to utilities to rent. If you’re in a difficult financial situation or if money is tight every month, your significant other should be aware. At this point in your relationship, if you aren’t comfortable disclosing your salaries, you may want to reconsider moving in together. While there is no rule of thumb on how shared expenses should be divided (for example, if someone should be paying more for rent than the other), it is generally advised that couples discuss both how and how much money they can spend.

5- Know each other’s pet peeves and boundaries.
The same way you would be aware of each other’s habits and quirks, you should know each other’s pet peeves and boundaries. Think of moving in with your significant other as kind of like having a roommate — just one with whom you share most of your personal space with — so it’s paramount that you know how not to get on each other’s nerves for the most trivial of things.

6- If you have your own life and friends, and if you’re okay spending time apart.
In the “honeymoon stage” of your relationship, you may have have been tempted to spend all of your free time together. But once you establish yourselves as a couple and think you’re ready to move in together, you may want to find ways to spend more time apart. You’ll already be spending every night and some entire days together, so it can’t hurt to go out and have experiences that don’t involve each other. Go out for lunch with friends, see a ball game, volunteer, or go to an exhibit alone: all of these experiences may only make your relationship richer. And remember: distance makes the heart grow fonder, so you’ll feel that much more eager to come home to your SO at night!

7- You’ve been on vacation together.
You may be spending a lot of time together, but you’re likely not spending every single night together, so you may not know what to expect when that happens. The best way to know is to go on vacation together. When you travel together, whether it’s a domestic trip or a foreign trip, you’ll likely get a better understanding of how your SO fares in somewhat stressful situations and how they react to unfamiliarity. In stranger situations, you’ll have to work together as team to overcome obstacles, whether it’s finding your way around a new city or trying to communicate in another language. You’ll also learn what it’s like to spend almost every waking moment with your partner.

8- You’ve had a huge fight — and survived it.
Every couple has disagreements, and everyone has their flaws, but what’s important is that you recognize those flaws and are willing to work with your partner to resolve a situation. Problems, especially bigger, more persistent ones, won’t just go away. You may want to wait until you feel comfortable with the way you and your partner communicate your unhappiness effectively, without insulting each other. While smaller arguments are more common (who will do the dishes, someone being late for dinner, as examples), bigger fights can rock the foundation of even the strongest of relationships. If you’ve had a big blowout fight and survived it, only to come back a stronger, more loving pair, then you may be ready to move in with your partner.

9- You understand that a lot is going to change.
There’s no going around it: your life will change drastically, no matter how much you and your partner are alike. Not only are you likely to be moving to a new apartment or house and neighborhood, your habits and routine will likely change as well. You may even fall out of touch with friends, and you may not see them as often. You may have to learn how to say “ours” instead of “mine,” which can be a particularly hard transition if you’re used to living alone. While relationships are meant to add meaning and happiness to your life, you may have to accept that both you and your partner are making compromises to make each other happy.

10- You’re happy, and you know in your gut that it’s right.
This is perhaps the most important criteria on this list: you’re ready to move in with your significant other when you’re happy and if you know in your gut that it’s right. You can read about statistics until your brain hurts, or research “what the average couple” does after a year or so of dating, but it’s important to remember that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” for relationships: you can decide to move in with your SO after just a few months if you’re convinced in your heart that it’s the right thing to do. No one is more intimate with the details and circumstances surrounding your relationship than you are, so only you and your partner can make this decision together. It’s normal to be a little nervous about the move — in fact, you probably should be — but don’t sweat the small stuff!

Every couple is unique, and some issues for some may be non-issues for others. Moving in, while generally considered to be a bigger step than marriage, happens when you and your partner want it to. Your lives together and happiness say more than any statistic or study out there!

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