So, What's the Deal with Cohabitation...?
It’s no secret that divorce has spiked in the past few decades. So what’s the deal? We can point our fingers at a number of factors, but, here, I’ve got a bone to pick with one in particular: cohabitation.
Yes, I’m a twenty-five-year-old editress and a shameless romantic, and I don’t believe that living together premaritally is a good idea. In fact, I feel it leads to an awful lot more painful consequences than it does favorable outcomes.
I know, I know…not many my age are on board with me on this. However blunt and bitter my words may sound, I really want the same thing for everyone – a joy-filled and vibrant life, colored in by loving and supportive relationships that add to it. And whatever your bent may be, the truth is that the more diligently a couple waits to share these big milestones in marriage, the better the chance they have of making it.
Before you come at me with pitchforks and guns ablazin’ (or maybe condoms, to further spite me. Can you imagine a condom-filled protest in the streets?), hear me out. I love a good cuddle and close proximity to the person I love and care about as much as anybody – I’d even say probably more than most. And what sounds better than having them around for that all the time? (It is definitely not, after all, exactly the same as snuggling your roommate, or your cat…no offense, Fluffy.)
But emotions and passion alone cannot win. When people in relationships allow themselves to get caught in the tailspins of a new romance (remember the last piece I wrote? Learn from me, people!), there is a price to pay. Risk is the inevitable companion of excitement. Real life is real life, no matter what Ben & Jerry’s and American Express and Spanx might try to tell you differently.
There’s something exciting about giving into passion like that. No holds barred, just you and your love, living out an exciting life with the stuff that dreams are made of, with nothing to stop you. I am h-e-r-e for it!! It’s fun as hell and often the closest we feel to being a kid again. What’s better than sharing that with someone you’re crazy about?
However. Nobody stands to gain from ignoring the facts. Moving in together is an enormous step to take for many reasons. First, practicality. Unsexy, perhaps, but it’s wise to think ahead to the “what happens if we break up” chapter. There are leases and vehicles and furniture and who’s taking the dog and you better not snatch up my Fruit Rollups on your way out (the last one might just be my own fear…like literally just don’t even touch my Fruit Rollups.) What then? How will you agree to navigate allll of these decisions that follow a split, while attempting to move on at the same time? When you made the choice to roost up with your beau, you’ve allowed the possibility of a breakup far messier than it would have been without all the factors involved with living with that person.
My argument is that you can learn all you need to know about compatibility without having to live with them. It’s a process, and like anything else will take time, but examining the character of a potential mate matters tremendouslyyyy more than whether or not they squeeze the toothpaste tube in the same spot as you. (Again, maybe just me?)
Third, relationally. “Try before you buy” certainly sounds sensible, and maybe it is…when you’re sampling gelato, or shopping for a car. I’m 110% supportive of women standing up for themselves and their standards, because it communicates to men that we know our worth as high-value women. So if your guy pushes back when you communicate standards of pacing yourselves, that. is. a. red. flag. When a decision this impactful is fraught with any pressure from your partner, what does that say about them? Maya Angelou once said, “If someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Freakin’ feminist mic drop.
Showing standards and asking for commitment go hand in hand. So if committing to you is contingent on sharing an address, you might want to reconsider if this person has your best intention in mind.
Fourth, sex. Ahhhhhh, yes…again, real physical compatibility follows knowing someone. Can we be real for a sec, boo? Intelligence is mad sexy to me. If I can carry on in delightful banter with someone, a la Gilmore Girls, there’s a damn good chance I’ll think they’re that much hotter than I did before. Let’s face it, a pretty face or washboard abs ain’t gonna pay the bills…I need a bit of substance, too.
My point is that physical attraction happens and develops in the weeks and months and years way beyond what’s immediately visible. And in the same way, you will know – like I promise you’ll know – just from spending time dating someone if that chemistry is there. And like love, sex is something that gets refined and improves over time. So if it’s not fireworks and earth-shattering orgasms in the beginning, there’s no need to fret. The better you and your partner get to know one another, and the more the mutual love and affection grows, the closer you’ll get to pleasing each other in ways no one else can. You definitely do not need to live with them to learn whether yall work out here or not.
Finally, think selfishly. Yes, I meant what I said. Marriage is for life (and despite the odds, I haven’t lost hope). That means your single days – including your timeline of living on your own – are soberingly finite. Most of us don’t taste real freedom and independence until we’re eighteen, and then more permanently in our early twenties, and today most get hitched around our late twenties to early thirties. That’s not very much time to experience the world from your own perspective, uninterrupted by someone else’s influence.
I could keep going, but these thoughts drive home the overarching message that short-term denial does pay off for long-term gain. Until you meet that someone who is ready to bind themselves to you for life, in a more permanent way than a flimsy “Let’s see what happens,” you can only stand to gain by holding off on cohabitating.
Cover Image Via Insider