Knowing whether it's too soon to live together with your partner can be a tough decision to make at any time. But when there's a global pandemic on with so many different factors affecting your relationship it can be even harder. You might have moved in with your partner early on in lockdown, sooner than you would have originally planned. Or you might be thinking of moving in together now, especially after hearing that it's now officially illegal to have sex with someone outside of your household - which, understandably has got a lot of people leaning towards making the move.
And with coronavirus adding a whole new wave of stress to our relationships, how do you know you're ready to take it to the next level?
How to tell you're ready to move in with your partner
Figuring out whether you're ready to move in can be daunting, but envisaging the reality of living together can help you make that decision.
Remember, though, that everyone's relationship is different, so go with what feels right for the both of you, rather than what you think you 'should' be doing, says relationship expert Sarah Calvert.
Make sure you're both on the same page
"Think about what living together means for you both, what your expectations would be, and make sure you're on the same page" suggests Sarah. As well as talking about your positive expectations of living together, it's also important to think about your fears, says Sarah.
So if there's anything you'd be worried about when living together - whether it's that your sleep schedules won't match up or that you actually hate their dog - make sure you have a serious chat about how you'd navigate that, too. And if there are any absolute dealbreakers, tell your partner and see if there's a way around it.
Think about the practical things
It can be super easy to get caught up in the rose-tinted world of making pancakes together, but think about how some of the more boring, practical things will play out, suggests Sarah. Whether that's managing the cooking and cleaning (even if it means you draw up a rota), or your work versus relaxation space.
The coronavirus pandemic means that you'll be spending a lot more time in the house together than usual, says Sarah. "If you'd both be at home working together, think about what kind of atmosphere you'd need to work in, and how you would share the space." This might mean giving each other a designated work spot, as well as personal space to have downtime away from each other - so be realistic about how you'll create this in your home, especially if there isn't much space.
Consider whether you're ready to become more intimate
You might think that after dating your partner for a while you've become about as intimate as you can be (which might be true in a physical or sexual way). But moving in together can mean a whole different level of emotional and just day-to-day intimacy. We're talking seeing your partner first thing in the morning, when they're angry or sad, or their small habits that really start to irritate you.
But that doesn't need to be a scary thing. "This is an opportunity to find out new things about your partner and have a deeper, more intimate relationship," says Sarah. So think about whether you're ready for that next level.
"However, this can be a big change if you’re only used to seeing each other for nights out and weekends," Sarah adds. "It’s important to consider how you'll both keep the excitement in the relationship – especially in lockdown when you’ll have to put more thought into how to create special time together." Remember that you might need to compromise or put in extra effort.
Think about whether your habits match up
Now, this isn't a reason not to move in with someone, but it's something to think about before you do. One of you might be messy versus the other person being really tidy, or one might be a night owl while the other is an early bird, says Sarah. So make sure that you think you'll be able to manage your differences without it starting to become a bigger problem.
Be clear on your intentions
The coronavirus pandemic means we're faced with different rules. So if you're moving in together just because of the pandemic and intend to go back home afterwards, then of course make sure you're partner is clear on this and doesn't think it's a permanent move.
Leave time to 'review' the situation
If you are slightly apprehensive about moving in together, knowing that it doesn't need to be 100% permanent could be comforting - and that makes the pandemic potentially a good opportunity to try out living with your partner on a temporary basis, knowing that you can always move back after lockdown.
"Set time aside to talk about how things are going, and have a review period planned for a particular amount of time," suggests Sarah. That way you know that there will be a clear chance to move back out if things aren't working. However, that doesn't mean you can't move out at any time if you're unhappy or feel that you're in danger.
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