Dating Advice: 11 Tips on Shacking Up with a Girlfriend
You’ve reached that point. Maybe you have a toothbrush at her place. Perhaps you’ve been talking about marriage and feel like this is the next step. For whatever reason, it’s time to shack up with the girlfriend. Congratulations. Before you go falling for the dating advice that will have you believe it’s no big deal, take a moment. For your sake, and hers. This is a big step. Make sure you understand what you’re getting into.

Here are 11 things you should know before shacking up with your girlfriend.

  1. Make sure you’re ready. Ideally, you’ve been together for at least six months. You’ve survived a few arguments, and spent some nights together. Infatuation is great, but it’s not a reason to shack up. The makeup wears off. And girls do, in fact, poop.
  2. Do it for the right reasons. Don’t shack up because you’re always together and want to split bills. Don’t do it because it seems like the natural next step. Don’t do it because someone else suggested it. Get her input and make sure your reasons align.
  3. Discuss your relationship goals. Do you both want marriage or long-term commitment? Is there any uncertainty? Ask what she wants. This is a good time to consider your stance on things like children and careers.
  4. Figure out your finances. Have an honest talk about finances before you move. Discuss debt, income, and bills. Consider things like rental agreements, credit scores, and banking. These decisions can affect both of you for years to come.
  5. Downsize. You’re sharing space now, so toss stuff you don’t need. Sell it, donate it, give it away. It’s a great opportunity to purge. Make three piles: keep it, unsure, and trash it. Get your girlfriend’s input for the stuff you’re unsure about.
  6. Divide chores. Chances are, you favor some chores over others. You hate laundry, but don’t mind cooking. She’s better at cleaning the bathroom, and you’re a better furniture builder. Decide who will do what as soon as you can.
  7. Compromise. You won’t agree on everything. Make a list of things you won’t budge on. And the rest- budge on it. Take a hard look at your priorities and the bigger picture. You’re going to master the skill of negotiating.
  8. Set realistic expectations. Up to this now, you’ve probably seen your girlfriend at her best. That will change. Are you ready see her through every mood and disagreement? Have an open conversation about expectations and make sure you’re on the same page.
  9. Go on dates. Maintaining the romance is one of the most important things you can do for your relationship. It’s natural to fall into a routine. Going out reminds you why you began dating in the first place. Get out, flirt, show her off.
  10. Spend time with your friends. For a healthy relationship, you both need time outside of it. Make time for your friends, family, and yourself. It gives you the chance to miss her, making the time you spend together more meaningful.
  11. Communicate. The most important thing you can do is communicate. If something isn’t going well, or you’re happy, tell her. Ask her how she feels about shacking up. Check in with each other regularly to avoid resentment down the road.

Now that you have the fundamentals covered, you’re ready to make an informed decision. Happy diving!