Carolyn Hax / Life Advice

Moving In at Less Than 100%

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn:

I know you say to save living together for when you're committed to spending the rest of your life with someone, but what about when you're 95 percent sure, it makes total financial sense, and the other person really wants it? I guess I'm just saying, would it be a mistake to move in at less than 100 percent certainty?

-- Moving In

Yes. And I say this as a skeptic of the whole idea of 100 percent certainty.

People opposed to the shacking-up trend often trot out a statistic that marriages preceded by cohabitation are more likely to end in divorce than other marriages. It's a problematic use of a complicated set of numbers and social attitudes, but here's the part of it that people in your position have to take seriously: Once you move in with someone, inertia kicks in, steering you toward staying with your live-in love -- and inertia is a terrible decision-maker.

It is so, so much harder to move out of a shared life than it is to move into one. As it is, people who have a little voice telling them the relationship isn't working have to face some painful possibilities, even if they live in separate places. The ones who cohabit are often sorely tempted to ignore the little voice and press ahead with the home purchase, engagement, marriage, even children, all with nagging doubts unexplored, because that exploration blows up not just a relationship, but a home. 

Don't put yourself on that path. Just, don't. Hold out till you're sure.

Besides, if you do it because "the other person really wants it," or to save money, then you have all the potential problems I just identified plus a bad precedent of not being able to stand up to the other person's pressure and of letting convenience replace conviction.

Re: Shacking up:

...continued

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