The first time I decided to cohab with a boyfriend, we were just coming off of a 6-month long-distance stint as my dude completed an internship across the country. We hadn't seen each other at all during that time, and as his internship wound down, my guy began to consider his next move. He was broke because, hello, I said internship, and so getting his own place was not an option. His choices were to move in with his parents several hours away and keep up our long-distance affair, or move in with me.
Tired of playing big spoon to my Hitachi every night, we decided moving in together would fix a ton of problems. Mistake number one!
Since my new roomie was broke and jobless, I gave him a free pass on rent while he looked for work. Mistake number two!
I think he had the best of intentions, and while he did find work eventually, he also bought himself a Wii and spent a ton of time putting it to good use while I seethed upstairs in my home-office. I grew resentful, attraction dwindled, and even after he started pulling his weight, my interest had waned and the relationship ate dirt. Since we moved in together for reasons that had less to do with a deep bond, and more to do with convenience, it was easier to walk away.
Flash forward five or six years and I've paid the rent of several live-ins. It's not something I'm necessarily proud of, but the combination of generosity and an animalistic attraction to starving artist types can be financially lethal.
Helping my partner with a couple month's rent has been more or less irksome depending on why we moved in together. The more serious we are, the less likely I am to stink-eye them when they're struggling financially and need a little help. Also, side-note, why do I keep allowing myself to get into these situations? That's another post for another day -- possibly titled Student Loans Ate My Soul: Dumb Financial Decisions and Why I Will Never Retire.
In addition to the financial aspect of cohabitating, I've realized that when and why you move in together can dictate the success of your situation overall. The reasons behind a decision to move in together can vary wildly. Some motivators are well-thought out, like, you know, a heavy commitment and an interest in moving forward together. Others -- like the fact you're tired of living at your parents or you can't pay rent on your own -- not so much.
With my first live-in, we didn't really think living together was such a big deal. Convenience seemed like a perfectly acceptable reason to fuse our eclectic mug collections. A year out of college, we both still had vivid memories of what it's like to live in a single room with a randomly assigned stranger -- one whose townie boyfriend keeps peeing in plastic water bottles and leaving them all over the window sill.
Clearly, if I could put up with a rando half-stranger roommater plus her hygienically challenged manchild, living with my partner in love and sex and binge Chinese food-eating could only be bliss in comparison, right? Wrong!
Cohabitation is hard -– at least, it has presented challenges for me. When a challenge arises, I have to be able to step back and remind myself that I love this person, I want to be with them, and I chose this living situation for a reason. You see, that reason is important.
If you moved in together solely because it made financial sense or minimized your work commute and also they have great hardwood floors and closet built-ins perfect for your massive sweater collection, well it's a lot easier -- I have found -- for resentment to begin to bubble. This might seem like an obvious revelation, but it's a mistake I know others make often, too.
When I look back on my relationship with my Wii-playing ex, I often think that we moved in together too soon, and had we done it later -- say, when we were both semi-stable financially, and ready to openly address the seriousness of the move -- things may have worked out differently. We made that jump too soon, for the sake of convenience.
While you don't have to wear a vial of their blood around your neck or shave their initials in your pubic hair, it is important to at least mutually acknowledge that cohabitation is a big step in your relationship.
And then you have to be ready to kick them out if they can't pay rent. This part, I am still working on. Currently, I am my boyfriend's landlord, because I own the house we live in. It can be awkward to remind him it's rent time. And it can be even more awkward to watch him struggle to get more freelance jobs so that he can write me a check. But what is life if not often awkward and a little bit complicated, right? No?
So tell me, how you do decide when to move in with someone? And have you ever paid someone else's rent? Did you charge an oral sex tax? That sounds illegal, actually.