Moving in together is a big step in any relationship, and the decision to do it is best made after careful consideration. If you're in a long-distance relationship and considering relocating so you can be in the same city as your partner, co-habitation might seem like a no-brainer. However, moving in together after being long-distance isn't always the best idea. According to Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, letting convenience and excitement overshadow careful consideration could be a mistake.
"Being long-distance before moving in together usually means you've had fewer chances to 'practice' what it's like to be under the same roof," Dr. Klapow tells Elite Daily. "This means the reality of living together could hit you like a sledgehammer and potentially tank the relationship." There's no denying that couples who live in the same city probably get a much more telling glimpse into their partner's habits, routines, and lifestyle choices than couples who live in different locations. Warming up to a partner's quirks gradually is a very different experience than discovering a new (and potentially, less-attractive to you) side to them all at once. "You will see the person in a new light," explains Dr. Klapow. "A light that is much more raw, far less guarded, and much more flawed."
Even if you've visited each other often, these vacation-style visits aren't typically enough to give you an accurate picture of how someone operates daily. "[When you live with someone] you will see them at times of the day when you wouldn’t normally [see them], you will see and experience their habits, quirks, fears, oddities, and everything else that has been covered up while you could each retreat back to your own private location[s]," says Dr. Klapow. Even if you're convinced you already know everything there is to know about your partner, rest assured that moving in together can still illuminate something new. "Although you may doubt this truth because of your feelings for them, no one escapes this reality," warns Dr. Klapow. "Living with someone means seeing them in a different way physically, behaviorally, and emotionally."
On the other hand, it's important to acknowledge that moving in together after being long-distance can feel like the right decision for some couples, especially since relocating can come with a ton of financial uncertainty. So, if living together feels like the best, most feasible option, Dr. Klapow recommends opening the lines of communication far in advance of the move. This way, you have plenty of time to assess whether you're making the best decision for everyone involved. Dr. Klapow strongly recommends asking the following questions to ensure you're on the same page:
- What are your expectations for the co-habitation space?
- What do you consider "clean"?
- What do you expect each person to do to keep the space acceptable to both?
- What are your expectations, needs, or desires for your space?
- How much personal space do you want or need?
- Do you need (and you should) your own private space in the new location?
- What are your true habits? (Not what you said they were when you could hide in your own space.)
- When do you work?
- Do you work at home?
- Do you want to entertain together or separately?
- What makes you feel good, comfortable, anxious, and angry when it comes to your space?
- How are your emotions connected to your living space?
- Do you need to have windows?
- Does a dark space bring your mood down?
- Does the need for order stress you out?
- How do you feel about clutter?
If you and your partner aren't on the same page about all these issues, don't panic. It's rare for a couple to agree on every facet of their living environment. However, discussing areas where compromise will be necessary is best done before you decide to share a roof. This way, you'll both have a more accurate idea of what you're signing up for.
"The less time you have spent together under a single roof, the more honest communication is critical," emphasizes Dr. Klapow. "Long-distance relationships often suffer from real-life experience, and this should be acknowledged and addressed before sharing a space." Ultimately, every long-distance couple is different, so don't feel pressured to make the "conventional" decision. After talking it out in-depth, you'll both feel more comfortable making an informed decision that works for you.
Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show