Playing house isn't just something that you did with your stuffed animals when you were a kid. When you're in a romantic relationship, you might find yourself setting up IRL tea parties with the person you love, except it's every day and it's not tea parties. It's cooking together and cuddling and spending every moment by your SO's side. Playing house can look different for every couple, but according to a psychologist, what it really means when couples play house has an interesting psychological meaning, and it could tell you more about your relationship. Contrary to popular belief, it's not always about saving money.
"Playing house often means couples want to live as an exclusive couple without the commitment of marriage," Dr. Wyatt Fisher, licensed psychologist and marriage counselor, tells Elite Daily. So, is it a bad thing? Nope! Playing house is totally healthy, Fisher says, and could actually be a great way for you and your partner to try out what marriage or a bigger commitment looks like without taking the legal plunge. Think of it as a testing phase. You try clothes on before you buy them, don't you? Why shouldn't you try on marriage or moving in together by playing house? It can be fun, informative, and help you and your partner grow closer.
But playing house when you have a roommate (or several roommates) is a different story. If you want to play house with your SO, but have roomies, then you should discuss boundaries with your roomies so no one feels uncomfortable. How often can your partner be over? How often can they spend the night? If your roommates aren't comfortable with them spending all their time at your place, consider staying at your partner's house instead, or moving in together if you feel like you're ready.
On the other hand, for some couples playing house might mean that there's a fear or mistrust going on that makes it feel impossible to commit, Fisher says. "This may be motivated by fear of marital commitment or having negative experiences with previous commitments," he explains. "In addition, playing house may be a way for couples to 'try out' a higher level of commitment in their relationship to 'test the waters' and see how things go."
Again, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. It might actually be a smart, logical step for you and your partner, Fisher explains. The only time you might worry is if you've been playing house for a while and you're ready for an even bigger commitment. In that case, you might want to start an honest conversation about what you really want. According to Pricilla Martinez, a life coach at Blush Online Life Coaching, playing house for too long might mean your partner might be afraid of commitment. "They purposely end up leaving things pretty open and vague, but anyone who's interested [in commitment] will make the plans, and will talk about the future in more than just the next weekend," Martinez told Elite Daily.
However, playing house doesn't always look the same to every couple. It could mean moving in together, but it could also mean spending all your time together, or doing all the couple-y things like grocery shopping and errands together. "Playing house may mean living together for some couples, it could mean merging finances for other couples, or it simply could mean they are deciding to only exclusively date one another," Fisher says. Let me reiterate that last part: Playing house could be something as simple as being exclusive. It's basically just a next step in your relationship.
How and if you play house is totally your call, and as Fisher said, "with the divorce rate so high and many adults coming from divorced homes, many couples today are hesitant to enter marriage, and 'playing house' is becoming a popular alternative." So don't feel weird about it! Just make sure that it's what you want, because you have every right to get what you want and need out of your relationship.