Here's How To Tell If Your Partner Should Help Pay Your Rent, According To Experts

by Alexandra Strickler

It's the greatest relief in the world when you introduce your partner to your social circle and things just click all around, right off the bat. Your SO can take it and dish it with your most sarcastic bestie, and they're even hitting it off with your roommate, too — so much so, in fact, that she doesn't seem to mind that your partner has crashed at the apartment for the last... uh, how many days has it been? Huh. The fact that you've lost track might mean it's time to consider whether your partner should help you pay rent at your apartment.

Look, life isn't an episode of How I Met Your Mother. Ted, Lily, and Marshall may have been the ultimate tripod, with an impossibly effortless living situation in a suspiciously large Upper West Side apartment, but real life is usually way more complicated than that. Even if your significant other is welcomed with open arms into your shared living space, if their name isn't on the lease, then there are definite boundaries to be drawn, and lines that can get crossed.

According to Clarissa Silva, behavioral scientist and creator of the Your Happiness Hypothesis Method, it's important for you and your roommate(s) to establish what both of you are and aren't comfortable with when it comes to having SOs hanging out, or even sleeping over, at the apartment. Some boundaries to talk about, she tells me in an interview with Elite Daily, include how often a partner stays over, the way they dress around the apartment (i.e. maybe your roomie doesn't want to see your BF chillin' on the couch in his boxer briefs), and of course, whether they're at your house enough to be expected to contribute toward things like rent, bills, groceries, and the like.

Here are five ways to tell it's time to ask your partner to chip in a little for their fair share around your living space.

Your Partner's At Your Place At Least Half The Time

As a general rule of thumb, Silva tells Elite Daily, if your partner's "just coming over tonight" four out of seven days of the week (or more), it might be time to have a conversation about what they should or shouldn't contribute toward the apartment.

"A fair approach would be to ask that your SO contribute a percentage if they begin co-habitating greater than 50 percent of the time," Silva says. "When you started your roommate situation, it was intended that you [and your roommate] share expenses, it wasn’t designed to be the three of you."

I know it's super awkward to have this kind of conversation with your partner, especially if the relationship is still on the new-ish side, but Dr. Danielle Forshee, doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker, suggests thinking of this in two ways: 1) as a way to show respect toward your roommate, and 2) as a potential new phase in yours and your SO's relationship.

If your partner is over at the apartment so often that your roomie begins to view them as an actual new roommate, Dr. Forshee says, "this may be a sign that you and your partner are transitioning into a new phase of your relationship" — which is a way more positive way to think about the situation, wouldn't you say? Your relationship is growing, and it may be time to take the leap into new, yet exciting uncharted territory, like maybe actually living together.

"Because you are so wrapped up in the emotional aspect of love," Dr. Forshee says, "you may not see things the same way your roommate sees things, such as: a certain level of unfairness associated with using the electricity, eating the food, and the space itself."

So, she adds, if your roommate asks your partner to chip in a little, it’s not necessarily right or wrong. Consider the fact that they're coming from a practical perspective, whereas you may be caught up in the emotions of the situation, Forshee explains.

Your Partner Has Their Own Key To The Apartment

Yeah, you feel a little bad that your partner accidentally let themselves in through the front door while your roommate was casually sitting topless on the couch when the AC was broken that one time — not exactly your finest moment.

It may not seem like such a big deal for your SO to have a key to the apartment — after all, it just makes things easier — but according to Silva, some may consider this a pretty big no-no, especially if you didn't consult your roommate before giving your partner a copy of the key.

"Giving out keys [without talking to your roommate(s) first] is indicative of lack of respect for others and yourself," she tells Elite Daily. "If you and your SO don’t work out, you now have to change codes, keys, or locks."

She has a point; an ugly breakup could ultimately complicate these things in the end. But look, this doesn't necessarily need to be a black-or-white rule for you and your roommate. As Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent relationship expert in Los Angeles who works with singles and couples, points out, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to these issues. As roommates, ask yourselves what you're both comfortable with in your shared living space, Dr. Brown suggests, and go from there.

Your SO Uses A Lot Of The Groceries At Your Place

OK, yeah, your partner might be at your apartment a lot, but can your roommate really complain when she gets to enjoy your SO's famous bacon grilled cheese and homemade tomato soup all the time?

Well, as long as your partner's chipping in for the extra bread, cheese, and bacon, then sure, your roomie probably won't mind at all. Food is meant to bring people together, but Dr. Brown says it's important to not let anyone take advantage of anyone else when it comes to settling who pays for what when all of you are using groceries, utilities, and the like on a regular basis.

"Nobody is entitled to take advantage of you," he tells Elite Daily. "Using all of these things and expecting you to pay for half of what three people are using shows a lack of empathy and a sense of fairness."

Your SO Has Their Mail Delivered To Your Apartment

Come to think of it, that one time when your roommate "accidentally" threw out your partner's tax return documents when they showed up in your mailbox did not end well, from what you remember.

Mail is a really personal thing, and as Dr. Forshee points out, there may be a lot of potentially valid reasons why your partner feels they need to have their mail delivered to your apartment instead of their own. Don't jump to conclusions right away, she says, but do make sure to be totally open and communicative with your roommate(s) about it so you know for sure one way or the other if it bothers them.

Again, as Silva suggests, taking notice of the fact that your partner has their mail delivered to the apartment could mean acknowledging a new stage of the relationship. "If they are getting mail at your place, you probably are ready to have a conversation about the direction of the relationship," she tells Elite Daily.

Your Partner Does Their Laundry At Your Place

Look, it's not just that your roomie feels a bit weird about accidentally mistaking your GF's underwear as her own on more than one occasion. You guys are cool, and you're all able to laugh that stuff off. What might really bug her beneath the surface, though, is how much higher the water bill is now that your SO is doing her laundry at the apartment all the time.

"If they are living there, they should also be gracious enough to offer to pay for some of the bills and groceries, as they are getting the benefit of living there," Dr. Brown tells Elite Daily, "and that likely includes use of the utilities such as water, electricity, and gas."

The bottom line is this: an honest and open line of communication is key. It's up to you and your roommate to talk about what's comfortable and what's not for you in your apartment, and of course, it's just as important for you to have that same communicative relationship with your SO.

Don't think of this as a painfully awkward discussion you have to have with your partner. Think of it as your move to the next phase of your relationship — I mean, come on, isn't that exciting?