So you’ve found your soulmate, and it’s time to U-haul. Congratulations, you’re officially a lesbian cliché! But, even if you’re 100 percent certain that moving in together is the right step to take, you shouldn’t rush into a living arrangement without talking to your partner about the details first.
In between planning all the pets you’ll adopt and the cute art you’ll buy, sit down with your partner to talk about the less sexy but also important aspects of merging your households together. Why are you moving in together, and are you on the same page about that? How will you divide the work of the household?
Here’s a handy list of 6 questions to chat with your partner about over a nice cup of tea (or champagne), before you sign that lease.
1. Why are we moving in together?
Why are you doing this, anyway? Do you want to save on rent? Do you want to take a step towards marriage? Do you want to test your compatibility as life partners? Do you want to spend more time together by waking up together every day?
Whatever your reasons, discuss them out loud to make sure that you are both on the same page. If one person thinks moving in together is a step towards marriage, and the other person thinks it’s more of a convenience thing, you may run into miscommunications and hurt feelings later.
2. Let’s talk about money.
Money is one of the most common relationship conflicts, and it can be awkward to discuss at first. The sooner that you make it normal to communicate about money, the better.
What’s your budget for the new place? What are your credit scores? How do you plan to handle shared expenses like rent, bills, Netflix, groceries, pets? What even counts as a “shared expense?” Who will be responsible for paying which bills on time?
There are lots of ways to handle finances as a cohabitating couple. You could split things 50/50. If one of you earns a lot more, you could each contribute a certain percentage based on your income. You could keep your finances completely separate, or you could open a new joint checking account for shared expenses. It’s all about what you are both comfortable with.
Honesty and patience are key factors in this discussion. It’s 2019, and many of us are in precarious financial situations, so it’s not a great idea to move in with someone who can’t be upfront with you about that!
3. Whose name will be on the lease?
This might seem like a minor detail when you’re in the exciting U-haul phase of searching for a new place with your bae, but if you run into issues down the line and there’s the possibility of a breakup, it will suddenly be a VERY MAJOR detail.
Decide who will be on the lease and why. It may make sense for the person with the better job or credit score to be on the lease, but you may also prefer having both names on there so everyone has equal rights to the place.
4. How will we handle chores and meals?
Chores are a huge point of contention for straight relationships because it’s implicitly assumed that the woman will do the lion’s share of the work. But navigating the division of household labor can be tricky in queer relationships not just because of gender presentation stuff, but also because everyone has their own preferences and laziness levels.
Like money, chores are not the most fun thing to discuss with your partner. But, by planning ahead, you can avoid those oh-so-annoying post U-haul bickering sessions over dirty laundry.
Do both of you have similar standards for cleanliness? If not, can you agree on some shared expectations for your new home? Discuss how you plan to divide each of the major chores, from sweeping to dishes. Phone apps, like OurHome, make it easier to hold each other accountable for this plan without arguments.
5. Who will care for our pets?
If you’re like most lesbians, you’re probably bringing some fur babies with you into this U-haul phase of your relationship. It’s like the Brady Bunch but with animals! Very cute.
Being a step-parent to a pet can be tricky because you love them like your own but they’re technically not. Figure out how much responsibility you plan to have over each other’s pets, who will be responsible for walking the dog and changing the litter and whatnot, and whether pet stuff now counts as a shared expense.
6. What are our boundaries?
When you first move in with someone, it can feel kind of unnatural to be in each other’s faces constantly (especially if you U-haul it). By month three, it might feel like you’ve merged brains. You know when your partner is hungry or about to go poop or has an itch on their right shoulder. You’re basically the same person, and you spend way too much time together.
But maintaining your own sense of self is important, and it’s even more important when you live together. Talk about how much alone time each one of you needs and how you plan to get it, especially if you can’t afford a place with more than one bedroom.
If you’re the type who needs a lot of personal space, it’s totally normal and okay to directly ask for space from your partner at times. Set up that expectation ahead of time, so when you randomly say “Hey, I need to go in the bedroom and lock the door and stare at the wall for two hours, knock if it’s an emergency,” your partner doesn’t look at you like an alien.
Similarly, you may want to talk about what your shared boundaries are for your home. What’s your policy on having company over, for example? Do you want a heads up when your partner is having a friend over? Do you want the house to be clean first? Are you cool with house guests?
After hammering out these details, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the U-haul process. Hopefully you have a happy ending! And if it ends in flames, here’s our breaking the U-haul survival guide.