How to Know You're Moving in Together for the Right Reasons

By Jack Busch

You'll hear conflicting traditionalist and progressive takes on living together before marriage, but none of them should matter to you. Why? Whether you're millennials, Gen-Xers, or from any other generation, what matters most are the specifics of your relationship.

Instead of asking yourself, "Does moving in together make sense?" ask, "Do my reasons for wanting to move in match hers?"

To Move In or Not to Move In?

The Atlantic focuses on the two ways people progress through relationships: intentionally or by "sliding."

Sliding is when you just sort of let things happen. You hook up with someone, eventually decide you're an item, and then at some point end up living together, whether it's for financial reasons or for something more coincidental.

Intent means one or both people in the relationship—preferably both—have taken time to consider the milestones of a relationship in a deliberate, thoughtful way. As a functioning couple, a major part of this deliberative process is talking openly, honestly, and before you get swept up in inertia.

The key here isn't just to have the talk. It's to have the talk in a productive and honest way. On paper, just sliding through a relationship seems bad. However, while you're experiencing it, it can feel more natural. Letting decisions make themselves can seem romantic or serendipitous, but in reality, progressing through a relationship without intent is more likely a byproduct of indecision, particularly an unwillingness to make tough decisions, even if they happen to be the right ones. Intent is your friend here.

What Moving in Together with Intent Looks Like

Thinking about the future of your relationship doesn't mean you have to know the future. While being engaged does make the decision easier (but not a foregone conclusion), choosing to move in doesn't automatically mean you're "engaged to be engaged"—and it shouldn't have to.

What intent means is that you and your significant other both know your reasons and expectations for moving in together, and you're both on the same page about them. Your reasons have to match.

If she's moving in because she wants to be a step closer to engagement, and you want to move in because you want to be 20 steps closer to the office, that's no good.

If you want her to move in because you want some insurance on her wishy-washy commitment level and she's moving in for reasons unknown, that's a double red flag.

If you're moving in together because she works first shift, you work second shift, and you want more time to see each other, that's probably a good start. Come up with a few more reasons like this, and you're on your way.

The Next Steps

Deciding to move in together is a true test of your relationship. It matters far more how you make the decision than what you decide. It's a major step and one that's hard to walk back if you have a change of heart. Of course, this is normal.

As your relationship progresses, you'll face more and more of these milestones, such as getting engaged, planning a wedding, having kids, pursuing careers, and building a life together. The stakes only get higher from here. So, exercise your ability to make intentional decisions together while the pressure is relatively low. Define your reasons for moving in, find out her reasons, and make sure they match.