In any relationship, there are certain significant conversations that can feel a bit anxiety-inducing. Of course, there’s “the talk” about defining the relationship. There’s also the discussion about getting engagement. And then there’s the conversation about cohabitating. If you're scratching your head over how to bring up moving in together, you've probably been mulling over what to say, how to say it, and when and where to do it. Should you just ask your SO outright whether they’re down to be roomies, or should you prod about the topic in a subtler way?
According to relationship and etiquette expert April Masini, there are certain strategies to keep in mind while broaching this topic that can not only ease your nerves, but also potentially result in a more accurate read on your SO's feelings. The idea is to get a feel for their general attitude about potentially living together while also warming them up the notion if they haven’t been considering it.
To get the conversation rolling, Masini recommends first asking your partner about their past experiences living with a significant other. If you’re hesitant to ask them directly to live with you quite yet, this offers the opportunity to learn about whether they've had positive or negative experiences that might affect their willingness to move in together. It also offers the perfect opportunity to transition into a conversation about living together (should you choose to steer it that way).
“If your partner hasn’t lived with anyone in the past, you can ask them why not,” Masini tells Elite Daily. “In turn, they’ll ask you about your history. And then you can wonder, aloud, what it would be like. The conversation should get going from there.”
Another subtle way to bring up the subject is to talk about mutual friends who live together.
“It’s an easy pivot point on which to segue to your own feelings about living together,” adds Masini.
Of course, there’s no predicting how your partner will react to this conversation, but there are other strategies to keep in mind that can help it to go as smoothly as possible. For one, Masini cautions against asking about moving in together too soon in the relationship. Certainly, the right timing will vary from couple to couple — some may feel ready to move in together after just six months of dating, and others may wait years. However, if you jump the gun on bringing it up, your SO might be caught off guard, and therefore, less likely to act favorably.
“Discussing living together during the first month of dating is a warning sign — and not in a good way,” explains Masini. “It’s always best when both people feel a commitment before this conversation comes up, so even if you’re ready and your partner isn’t, wait.”
As with any conversation on a sensitive topic, it’s crucial that your SO feels safe in sharing their honest feelings without judgment. That’s why Masini advises listening intently to their concerns or fears so that you can respond in a way that’s helpful rather than defensive.
“If your partner is on the fence or not wanting to live together, and you are, the last thing you want to do is make that person feel cornered, pressured or even bullied into moving in together,” she says. “The best way to start this process is to get the topic on the table as a talking point, not as an ultimatum or a deal breaker on a timeline.”
If neither of you has lived with a partner before, the concept may feel quite surreal. Masini suggests taking a little field trip and visiting some friends who are cohabitating. Seeing how another couple makes it work may help to make it feel more real, rather than farfetched or even scary.
“It will become familiar and potentially even attractive,” adds Masini.
If you’re feeling super nervous about approaching the topic of living together, don’t stress — it’s totally normal and also totally possible to overcome. Masini recommends figuring out why the conversation is giving you anxiety — in most cases, she says it stems from a fear of rejection. One thing that can be helpful is to practice the discussion by role-playing with a friend.
“Write down a few talking points you want to hit,” she explains. “Ask your friend to play devil’s advocate with you. When you do your homework, you wind up feeling prepared. And that preparation equates to confidence. And that confidence hedges against feeling nervous!”
Another tactic that can be helpful is taking baby steps.
“Instead of launching into a full-blown discussion on moving in together for the first time, ‘breadcrumb’ your ideas about living together by dropping little tidbits of conversation about them, over the course of a month or two, a week at a time,” explains Masini. “When you do this, you can test the waters and give your partner time to digest your suggestions.”
There’s obviously no perfect time or way to bring up the subject of moving in together — nor are there the perfect words to use to broach the subject. Choosing the best conditions for this discussion depends on knowing your partner’s communication style and past experiences, as well as obviously feeling confident in your bond. The best thing you can do during this conversation is to remain as open-minded and compassionate as possible. Remember: Moving in together should be a decision that you make together when you're both ready — and one that comes out of genuine enthusiasm, not out of pressure. If your SO feels they can be upfront in sharing their thoughts and feelings, then you’re more likely to reach a place of healthy compromise and come up with a plan that works for both of you.