Relationship
If you and your boyfriend disagree on moving in together, here's how to handle it.

4 Relationship Tips For When You Disagree About Moving In Together

Yes, you can move on together happily without moving in.

By Genevieve Wheeler and Hannah Kerns
Updated: 
Originally Published: 
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Moving in with your partner is a pretty big deal — and the timeline matters. In an ideal world, you and your SO would have the same attitude towards moving in together, but that’s not always the case. It’s pretty common for one person to feel ready to take that step before their partner is. We’ve all heard it before: “I want to move in with my boyfriend but he’s not ready” or “I want to take the next step with my girlfriend but she says it’s too soon.” No matter who wants what, feeling out of sync with your partner can be disorienting — especially when it comes to such a big decision.

So if the two of you happen to disagree on moving in together, first off, don't panic. Not being on the same page about moving in doesn't mean that your relationship is on the rocks or that you two don't love and care deeply for each other. I'm sure you do! As in all things, you've got to remember to go at your own pace, and ensure that you're not forcing your partner to make any moves (literal or otherwise) that they're not comfortable making.

If watching basically every episode of The Bachelor has taught me anything, it’s that you have to do things for ~the right reasons~ — i.e. not rushing into living together because you feel pressured to do so, or because the thought of splitting rent sounds like a sweet deal.

"It is important not to rush this step and be patient if the other person is not ready when you are," says Nicole Richardson, licensed marriage and family therapist. "It’s important not to make this choice based on financial concerns. Doing so can add to a feeling of being trapped if things get rocky."

If you and your SO have recently stumbled into a disagreement about whether or not to move in together, here are four steps to take that'll help your relationship weather this little storm, as told by relationship pros.

01

Don’t Judge Your SO For Not Wanting To Move In Together

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I know this is way easier said than done, but if your boyfriend doesn’t want to move in together or if your girlfriend wants to renew her (separate) lease, try your best not to take their decision personally. Their choice doesn't mean your relationship is any less wonderful or solid.

"There are a lot of reasons someone could be nervous about moving in that have nothing to do with the strength of the relationship," says Richardson. "For example, if a person is an introvert, the idea of moving in with someone could feel like giving up the promise of much-needed solitude in times of stress."

Maybe your partner just needs to ensure they're getting time to themselves, or maybe they're terrified you'll be turned off if you ever see their secret single behavior. Maybe they can’t afford a big move right now, or they’d rather save cohabitation for when you’re engaged or married. "Many happy couples have deliberately chosen to live separately, as it provides them with space and autonomy they need to be happy," adds Monica Parikh, dating and relationship coach at the School of Love NYC. "Refrain from making sweeping generalizations or judgments."

02

Don't Bury Your Feelings If They Say They’re Not Ready To Move In

You shouldn’t jump to any harsh conclusions about your relationship based on some disagreements about moving in together, but you also shouldn’t ignore how the situation makes you feel. "You must always pay attention to and honor your feelings," says Parikh. "I've seen too many people go silent on expressing their feelings, to the detriment of the relationship. Don't rationalize away negative feelings. You must honor your feelings first if you expect others to do the same."

This advice will come in handy any time you encounter a disagreement in a relationship, but it's especially helpful if you two are on different wavelengths about a decision as major as moving in. Basically, it's important to remember that both you and your partner are entitled to your own emotional reactions. Your feelings — be they good, bad, or ugly — are valid. Don't bottle up your frustrations or talk yourself out of feeling something simply because it'd be easier not to feel it. As a textbook bottle-upper myself, I can guarantee that talking through an issue, and encouraging your SO to do the same, is a million times more helpful in the long run. And if you're the one who's not ready to move in, just explain that!

Having an uncomfortable conversation now is a much better alternative to moving in before you feel 100% ready. "If you move in when you aren’t ready, resentments will grow and it could really damage the relationship," explains Richardson. "Talk about how much you value the relationship and how you would like the relationship to move forward."

Let yourself feel those feels. And when appropriate, discuss them with your partner. Even if you are not on the same page about moving in together, you should be on the same page about sharing your emotions.

03

Table The “Moving In Together” Conversation For Now

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Once you and your partner have had an open and frank discussion about why you're not ready to take the plunge and move in together, put a pin in that conversation, at least for a little while. Otherwise, this disagreement will constantly feel like the elephant in the room (a room you two are not ready to share full time).

"If possible, agree to a moratorium on future talk for a little while," suggests Parikh. "Go back to enjoying the relationship and one another." That might be easier said than done, but having an honest conversation and airing out your feelings will make it so much more doable.

04

Find Ways To Move Your Relationship Forward Besides Moving In Together

Remember that moving in together is not the only next step you two can take. Too often, couples compare themselves to their peers, but it's impossible to measure the success of two totally different relationships with the same timeline or metaphorical yard stick.

So, instead of focusing solely on the fact that you haven’t moved in, try to look for other ways to deepen your connection. "If moving in is not an option, what are some other ways you could increase your emotional intimacy and time together?" asks Richardson.

Just because sharing a living space isn't the right next step for you two doesn’t mean you’re stuck in a rut. Brainstorm other ways you can move your relationship forward (without jumping into anything you aren't prepared for). Maybe aim to take more vacations as a couple, or agree to spend a certain number of nights together per week, or sign up for a cooking class together.

Oh, and don't forget that moving in, getting married, and starting a family is by no means a path you two have to take. "Move away from thinking that 'marriage' or 'cohabitation' should be the end goal," says Parikh. "These are not end goals, but usually the beginning of a more complicated life passage. So, handle everything with great care and love!"

Above all else: Don't freak out. If you two are treating the situation (and, more importantly, one another), with care and love, you're going to be just fine. Roommates or not.

Experts:

Nicole Richardson, licensed marriage and family therapist

Monica Parikh, dating and relationship coach at the School of Love NYC