As far as milestones go in a relationship, there’s the first time you get physical, the first time you say those three little words, meeting the family, and of course, moving in together. But how long should you date before moving in together and how soon is too soon to move in? For some people, a whirlwind romance leads to shacking up after just a few months or less. For others, it’s a slow burn of getting to know the other person’s quirks before finally deciding to take the plunge.
One thing’s for sure, though: More and more couples are moving in together before saying “I do.” The number of cohabiting couples is growing faster than married couples, with an increase of 25.8% between 2008 and 2018, according to data from the Office for National Statistics. In fact, a 2014 report published by the Council on Contemporary Families found that cohabitation has increased by a staggering 900 percent over the last 50 years.
These higher rates of couples moving together among younger generations, but lower rates of getting married, have led to the term “millennial divorce,” referring to the emotionally heavy breakups that occur between couples who have been living together but aren’t married. In 2020, a wave of “turbo relationships'' came about as the global pandemic forced many to move in and quarantine together. This resulted in 59% of new couples feeling more committed to their partner — and 36% of newly cohabitating people saying that two months felt equivalent to two years of commitment due to COVID-19, according to a report from eHarmony and Relate.
Certainly, the transition can make or break a relationship. Cohabitating inherently fosters a feeling of closeness, and you learn a lot more about your partner when you’re sharing a home with them. But on the other hand, you’re also faced with some potentially unpleasant realities — like the fact that they never put the toilet seat down, leave month-old leftovers in the fridge, or avoid taking the trash out like the plague. And that’s not even taking into account the sometimes stressful process of sharing finances together, which is why you and your partner should have some serious talks before deciding when you should move in together.
“It’s essential that you both know why the other one wants to live together," Fran Greene, a dating and relationship coach and author of The Secret Rules of Flirting, previously told Elite Daily. "Regardless of the reason — natural next step, convenience, financial, marriage-minded — you both have to be on the same page with each other.”
So, how do you know when to move in together? Well, a quarter of couples move in together after four months of dating and half after a year, according to a study by Stanford University. By two years, over 70% have moved in. That said, it's hard to pinpoint an ideal timeline that applies to everyone — after all, each relationship is entirely unique, and sometimes situations that slow down or speed up your relationship timeline are out of your control (like, say, a global pandemic). Regardless, 15 people on Reddit revealed their own stories on the subject, and they're pretty eye-opening.
The bottom line? There's no right or wrong time to share digs with your partner. But one thing's for sure: It's definitely an adjustment that will test the strength of your relationship and one that you should thoughtfully discuss with your partner.
Office for National Statistics. (2019) Families and households in the UK: 2018. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/families/bulletins/familiesandhouseholds/2018
Kuperberg, A. (2014). Does Premarital Cohabitation Raise Your Risk of Divorce? The Council on Contemporary Families. https://contemporaryfamilies.org/cohabitation-divorce-brief-report/
eharmony and Relate. (2020). Lockdown creates a wave of 'Turbo Relationships', with new couples quicker to commit. https://www.relate.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/2020/6/24/lockdown-creates-wave-turbo-relationships-new-couples-quicker-commit-0
Rosenfeld, M.J., Thomas, R.J., and Falcon, M. (2018). How Couples Meet and Stay Together, [Computer files]. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Libraries. https://data.stanford.edu/hcmst
Fran Greene, dating and relationship coach and author of The Secret Rules of Flirting