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Shacking Up

One of the fastest routes to changing the course of your relationship is moving in with your significant other.

Economically cohabitation is beneficial when you live in a metropolitan city where the cost of living is significantly higher than rural areas. Ideally two incomes paying one set of bills equals significant savings for everyone involved. But outside of financial gains there really is no upside to living with someone you are not engaged or married to.

Unfortunately, I never had a host of aunts or a mother who would drop gems of wisdom on how to handle life or men. I learned too many lessons through trial and error. At the ripe age of 20 I moved into my very first apartment, allowing my then boyfriend to move in with me. Disaster is an understatement for how that worked out. I was a senior in college, working 40 hours a week, waking up before sunrise daily to take him to work 45 minutes one-way, coming back home to sleep for a couple of hours, then heading straight class, working after my classes trying to slip a meal in when I had time to do it all over again the next day. It wasn’t long before I began to feel unappreciated. I vowed never to shack up again unless I was engaged. That situation showed me the cons of cohabiting outweighed the pros, but strangely enough I most likely wouldn’t marry someone without living with them first.

Five years wiser, happier and in a strong, healthy relationship, I ended up living with my boyfriend.  Typing the words is actually the first time I would admit to myself living together is what we’re doing. If anyone asked I would give a round about answer implying I was only temporarily visiting him because initially that’s what it was.

In August I came to NY to attend my beau’s college friend’s wedding that he was also a groomsmen in. Our relationship was so new, so fresh, so carefree. We were still in the phase where I’d get chill bumps when he said something caring, or he’d light up every time he talked about me to a friend. Every moment was like something I had always imagined, but never thought was possible. He was my in the flesh knight and shining armor, as corny as that may be.

Time flew by during my visit. Neither of us were ready for our relationship to return to hopping on an US Airway plane every other weekend, and five hour long phone calls every night to fill the void of not seeing one another.

Moving to New York had always been in the plans prior to me even knowing he existed. However, I wanted to move here with a job, benefits, an apartment, a hefty savings account. You know, the practical things you imagine are supposed to happen when you have 17 years of education under your belt. Oh the lies of the American Dream.

Before I was to return home my SO proposed I stay a bit longer so we’d have more time together. I’ve been here ever since.

I was apprehensive as hell to staying with him in his not so ideal living situation, but it only made sense to be in NY while looking for a job in NYC. Flying out for interviews every time I received a call would not have been feasible. So in that moment when he asked me to stay, it seemed as if I was getting the best of both worlds- the ability to hustle by being physically in NY, and being with the love of my life on a regular basis. Only, I’m still in his house three months later. It has NEVER taken me over 1.5 months to find a job and move out since I’ve been living on my own. Therefore, I didn’t think it would be any different in NY. And even though this is nothing like my situation when I was 20, it is something I said I’d never do again.

Cohabitation accelerates everything in the relationship. Unflattering habits you would have learned over a period of time are revealed to you at once. You trade in the excitement of hearing his voice to “what do you want me to take out for dinner?” At times you want to go a few days without seeing him just so he can miss you and you can miss him. Living together brings on marriage-like activities that really should be reserved for marriage.

As much fun as we have when we go on dates, do weekend getaways, he surprises me with flowers, and all the other romantic things we do as a couple, I’d be lying if I said things haven’t changed due to our living situation.

Many of the intense discussions we have I feel are all related to our living situation. But it’s not as simple as just moving out.

One of my very good friends shacked up with her then boyfriend, now husband and they are extremely happy. It all depends on the person. I’m overly independent; therefore, living with a man who is not my husband is terribly difficult. I think the other part of the equation is my unhappiness with my own situation. I always envisioned living in NYC would be the best time of my life. Loving my career, going out at least four times a week, meeting great people and enjoying everything this great city has to offer was all a part of the dream. That hasn’t really happened yet.

Maybe I’m looking at it all wrong. I should be more grateful (I am though), that I have a man willing to support and financially invest in my dream. And at least I’m in NY. But being grateful doesn’t eliminate my feelings that living together has possibly caused some irrevocable damage for the long haul. As clichéd as it is, I guess only time will tell.

*I have a feeling someone will mention the Bible and how I’m living in sin. Miss me with that, thanks.

  • Sarah C.

    You only have one life to live.