There’s no denying that you have a spectacular significant other on your hands. They’re a stellar listener, they’re super supportive of all your goals and dreams, and they always know how to lift you up when you’re having a crummy day. But will your partner make a good roommate? That's a separate question entirely.
Moving in together is a pretty colossal step for any couple to take. Not only does it mean seeing a great deal more of each other, but it also means sharing a slew of new responsibilities together (paying bills, cleaning, decorating, etc.).
“It very likely means that both of you are ready to take another step towards committing to a future together," says Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent dating and couples’ therapist in Los Angeles.
So before you take this step, it’s obviously pretty important to assess whether your partner is solid roomie material. Fortunately, you may be able to tell whether it’s going to be a dream living situation — or a disaster — by your partner’s habits, behaviors, and personality traits.
Does your SO always usually remember to put the seat down on the toilet when they’re at your place? Do they offer to help do the dishes when you’ve cooked dinner? One of the top ways to tell that your partner will be a phenomenal roommate is if they’re a very considerate person, according to Dr. Brown. Pay attention to whether they’re eager to do things that will make your life easier — because that considerate behavior will definitely translate when you’re cohabitating. For example, they may remember to pick up a couple of your favorite items they know you’re out of while they’re at the grocery store, or go out with friends to give you some space at home when they know you need to concentrate on a complex assignment.
If your partner is a generally responsible person, that’s also a solid sign that they’ll be a good roomie. Dr. Brown advises taking note of whether they seem to pay their own bills on time, as this will give you a glimpse at how they’ll handle this important duty while you’re cohabitating. No one wants to stress about getting their roommate to pay for their share of the rent or utilities, and no one wants to have to nag their roomie about it, either. Other ways to tell if they’re responsible include: if they’re reliable at their job, and if they attend events or appointments they’ve committed to. Dr. Brown warns that if they spend more than they make, and show no interest in trying to change their poor financial habits, that’s a major red flag as well.
Can you depend on your partner to do what they say they’re going to do? This is a super important aspect to consider. Dr. Brown warns that if your SO doesn’t keep their promises, they very likely won’t be a quality roommate. Think about it this way: How can you have a happy, stress-free living situation with someone if you never know whether they’ll follow through on their word — whether it’s a promise to straighten up before your family comes over, or to fix that appliance they broke? Unpredictability may seem like an exciting quality or an endearing quirk at first, but it can be frustrating AF when you’re living with someone. Without a doubt, reliability is one of the most beneficial traits you can look for in a roomie (and a significant other!).
Lastly, Dr. Brown emphasizes that a crucial element to take into account is whether or not your SO has healthy conflict resolution habits.
“The two of you are able to come to fair and workable agreements — for example, about who pays for what,” he explains. “They understand that even the best of couples are going to have disagreements, and the two of you are devoted to finding healthy ways to work through conflicts.”
Conflict resolution skills are obviously important in any relationship, regardless of whether you cohabitate. However, this becomes even more significant when you live together. You’ll now be forced to work things out while sharing space — including a bed and a bathroom — with this person. And if you aren’t able to disagree in an open, honest and respectful way, then tensions and resentments could rise very quickly.
Keep in mind that no one is perfect, and it’s very possible that your partner could improve in any or all of these areas — as long as you bring them to their attention and discuss them in a supportive, non-accusatory way. Just because your SO is a little bit of an impulsive spender or tends to avoid conflict, doesn’t mean they won’t eventually make for a spectacular roommate — it just means they have some work to do before you both sign a lease. Remember: The ideal roomie is reliable, considerate, and able to resolve conflict in a healthy way. By looking for these qualities before you move in together, you’re setting you and your boo up for success in this exciting new chapter of your relationship.