After months in a wonderful relationship with someone you're convinced could be "the one," you've finally considered taking the next big step: moving in together.
But before taking the plunge, there's that common question you need to ask yourself: Are you actually ready?
Monica Parikh, relationship expert and founder of School of Love NYC, says that before deciding on cohabitation (or a serious commitment like marriage that involves cohabitation), couples should ideally discuss all the heavy issues they could face.
It's always best for couples to "come to an agreement about how to live their lives together," says Parikh.
Before I got married, my husband and I had never lived together. Because of that, we sat down before our wedding and had a lengthy conversation about how we saw our lives, our marriage, and how to approach having a shared living space.
Parikh says a conversation at the start of living together is great, but that it's an on-going thing to discuss.
Life is continually in flux (and these negations may have to be re-opened), but in the beginning, you want to set the parameters for a mutually-beneficial arrangement.
In that sense, it's important to be able to answer a few questions (like the ones below), before officially deciding to live with your partner under one roof.
1. Are We Headed Somewhere More Serious Or Do We Just Want To Live Together?
Sometimes, couples move in together simply because they like the convenience of living in the same place.
It's certainly much easier to hang out, cuddle on the weekend, and have constant sex when your partner is always around.
Other couples decide to move in together as a precursor to a more binding commitment, like marriage.
If you're thinking of sharing a living space, you should both be clear on the reasons why, and discuss those reasons with each other. If one member of the couple sees it as practical, while the other sees it as the first step to forever, that could lead to problems down the road.
It's best to be honest about what you're doing from the get-go.
2. Are We On The Same Page About Household Duties?
The "odd couple," where one is a hyper-organized neat freak, and the other is a messy, creative slob, is a well-known trope.
While it's possible for this pairing to cohabitate, you're going to have to put in a little extra work to figure out a way to make your differences work together.
If one of you loves the idea of cleaning together on a Sunday morning, but the other wants to use that time to relax in front of the television, that may cause a problem.
Moving in with your partner means adjusting to the way you each handle things around the house. You'll be dealing with everything from general cleaning, all the way to chores like grocery shopping and scheduling errands.
If you already foresee issues between the two of you when it comes to cleaning up and not living in a pigsty, you may not last long living in the same space, no matter how much love there is.
3. Do We Feel The Same Way About Personal Space?
Living together means the two of you will spend time in a way that you never have before... with a lot of it being with each other.
While it may have felt sad to miss your partner before, being with them all the time may occasionally make you wish you could go back to the days that you fell asleep without them permanently hogging up all the blankets.
If you want some quiet time away from your man, but he feels like having a guys night in his "man cave," are you OK with scheduling plans that may conflict with yours?
You should be able to talk to your partner about your needs for personal space before you're actually sharing the space.
4. Are We Planning To Combine Our Finances?
Just as some couples view the living together process differently, the topic of finances in that situation can also vary.
Before the U-Haul comes to take all your boxes away, find time to sit down and discuss how you'll treat your dough as a single unit.
According to Parikh, handling money is normally a big problem in any situation, especially in the case of marriages. Money matters can make or break a couple.
If one of you is a master of budgeting, while the other's money burns a whole in their pocket, you may have a problem. You may even have to adjust if one of you prefers to purchase things, like clothes and shoes, while the other would rather spend money on experiences, like trips and vacations.
Discuss if the two of you are more spenders or savers, and most importantly, figure out if you have similar values regarding money, says Parikh.
It'll save you a headache in the long run.
5. What Will We Do If We Break Up Down The Road?
It's not a fun thing to consider, but you never know if the two of you may end up breaking up.
Before you move in together, you should ask yourself how you'll feel if this goes down, and what you'll do if it happens.
It's best to figure out what your potential living arrangements would be if your relationship came to a close. Will you head back home to the 'rents? Will you scour around for a roommate again or find your own space? How will you sort through the items you've come to share?
These are all realistic things to consider before moving in with your partner. Although it's not the most exciting of conversations, it wouldn't hurt to talk about it with your partner, too.
Even if that discussion is had, it doesn't mean there should be a damper on your big plans to come together as one.
Moving in with your partner has the potential to be a really exhilarating moment, so it's best to make the most of it. Just be sure that you're ready for the responsibility that comes with taking a more serious step in your relationship.
You, and your partner, will be glad you did.