Moving in with a partner can be a truly exciting and life-affirming experience. Being a part of each other's lives in such an intimate way is likely to make or break the relationship; and if the former proves to be true, then you can expect the bond between you both to grow deeper and more real with each new day.
But, before you get too rosy-eyed with how romantic it all sounds, be warned that living with someone changes everything. For the good, and the bad.
So, if you and you're SO are thinking of taking the leap, then make sure you're both prepared and have considered these four questions;
Are you doing it for the right reasons?
The first, and most important, piece of advice is not to let external pressures of what you think you're relationship should be like, or what other couples are doing influence your decision to move in with someone. Make the most of each and every stage of a relationship. The early days where you arrange times to meet up and have to decide whose place you stay at, is something you may actually miss once you share a roof and are no longer required to make such plans.
Obviously, every relationship is different (this cannot be stressed enough) so stages vary, but the point is cherish getting to know someone properly and in your own time. Don't try to rush it, because one, you may well ruin something beautiful. And two, you curtail that special, sparkly bit of a relationship; the bit before all of the gripes and niggles that living with someone inevitably causes to some degree or another.
Are you ready to be that intimate?
I use the word intimate here to mean in close confines with regards normal bodily functions and day to day living, as much as the cuddly, cosy stuff. Farting, bathroom politics and conflicts over housekeeping are all part and parcel of an "idyllic" life living together, so just be warned.
No matter how well mannered, compatible and utterly gorgeous that person is; there will be things about them and what they do which starts to grate on you and that sparkle you had when you first met will slowly but surely be replaced with a more pragmatic and practical version of love. More valuable, yes, but nothing like the Disney cartoon you based your future romantic life on as a five year old I'm afraid.
Are you prepared to compromise?
Ah, compromise. Probably the most important lesson you just gotta learn if you are to ever have a long and lasting relationship. Being emotionally committed to someone requires a lot of give and take. In a society that places huge emphasis on the take part this can be difficult. There's no way of giving examples here because it covers every aspect of the relationship. You are two separate people at the end of the day, living two separate lives, so you are just going to have to learn the best way to deal with things that cause you inconvenience or annoyance at times.
This point is an inevitable fact of life and relationships, what's changeable here is your reaction to it. The truth is it's you that causes feelings of anger and resentment in yourself, triggered by other's maybe, but it's your reaction to it that is causing you the problem. Try changing your point of view on certain things that your partner does that constantly annoys you, 'cos unfortunately it's a lot more difficult (and ill-advised) to go around trying to mould everyone else into whatever shape you see fit.
Do you have a plan for it it fails?
This is a really important thing to do, as two mature adults making a big decision together. Don't be fooled into thinking that you and your boo are just too much in love to warrant this step. No couple is exempt from being realistic about a future they cannot possible predict. Sit down together and discuss the nitty-gritty regarding who will pay what and who would keep what and stay where if you did end up parting ways.
Setting out what's what in some sort of a formal agreement could save a huge amount of unnecessary pain and problems should something happen. Discussing things of this nature and taking care of a shared responsibility together is also good practice for the future when you both have to work out paying bills, taxing the car and other boring, but necessary, admin stuff.