Why is moving in together supposedly a death sentence for a relationship?

I believe the more religious Bible Belt has higher divorce rates than the less religious Northeast - so much so that a while back there was a movement among churches there to slow down marriage and have more counseling.

However I agree that there isn’t a cause-and-effect relationship. I’d think people moving in together are less committed then people getting married,. and it is certainly easier to get out of this kind of relationship.

Thank you for one of the best straight lines I’ve ever seen here. Alas, none of the responses that spring to mind are appropriate for this forum.

I don’t buy the bodily function reason for splitting up after moving in together. I’d suspect that there were at least a few overnights, where grossness would become evident.
I suspect it is more that moving in happens during the throes of infatuation, and the relationship can’t the survive the move to everyday tolerance. I suspect many relationships that dissolve would have anyway even if the couple never moved in together. Moving out is also more extreme than just not seeing each other for a while.

It’s not bodily function stuff (which people can usually adjust to) so much as the revelations and magnification of all kinds of personality conflicts ranging from the trivial to the major. It’s easy to gloss over potentially incompatible traits when in the throes of infatuation, when the other pesron is still idealized, and when you aren’t with them 24/7. During that initial rush, the other person is half real and half fantasy. Living with them blows off the fantasy layer. Sometimes what’s left is still really compatible (my wife and I moved in together after six months of dating and lived together for 8 years before we got married), but other times you might start to realize the other person is really not what you thought or not somebody you still enjoy being with when the love endorphins wear off.
I think living together speeds up the process of finding out who you’re really with and what you’ve really got. It’s not that living together can ruin a relationship that would have worked otherwise, it just gets you to that realization sooner. Cohabitation is like a relationship pressure cooker. Every day of living together is like 8 day of dating.

I think the statistics on the rates of break-ups for those “living together” ignore an important aspect; is it just “shacking up” or is there a committment beyond economic convienience/short-term relationship involved?

If the two involved don’t have the SAME expectations, well, hilarity is bound to ensue eventually. Or if both lack any eye to long-term co-habitation, well…

My late partner and I moved in together about 4 months after we met and were together 23 years (until he died).

But we both saw our co-habitation as akin to a marriage, considered ourselves married for all intents and purposes.

In my experience, the myth was that getting MARRIED after living together for a long while was the death sentence (and I saw it happen to a few couples). My opinion is that one or both involved can have these ideas in their head(s) about what “marriage” means and it can change the roles they expect themselves and the other to play, altering what was a successful dynamic…they go from being “lovers” and “partners” to being “husband” and “wife”. No inherent reason that should change anything, but it often does, since they have those troublesome ideas in their heads. :smack:

I dunno - I have to disagree with the bodily functions thing.

There’s something extraordinary about how completely unromantic your partner becomes when they’re waking up hungover and stinky from a late-night drinking binge and you have to help them get ready for work/class.

Or perhaps they happen to have the flu and you get to hear them losing their dinner every 30 minutes all night long before your big final exam (or if they’re really sick, IN the bed you’re sharing… which **you **then have to clean up because they’re too sick to do anything but stare mournfully at the porcelain god). For a lot of people, a live-in love partner is the first time they’re in a position to do these types of mundane or gross-out “caretaking” things, and it can be a shock.

Infatuation - ‘in love’ - isn’t the same as affection, and while affection can withstand stinky armpits and totally gross bathroom/hygiene/eating/cleaning standards, infatuation rarely can.

If you share quarters too soon, you’re more likely to find out things about your beloved that you aren’t ready to accept and move past: to be perfectly frank, it’s a buzzkill.

That’s not to say that it won’t ever work, or that you should or shouldn’t. Just be aware that whatever you think you know about his personal habits - you really don’t yet, and they may not be to your liking.

If you do decide to share quarters, here are some tips to make life easier:

  1. Make sure you have enough money or other resources to live alone at a moment’s notice. Prepare an ACTUAL PLAN as to what you need to do to live alone if it becomes necessary.

This is a safety concern - if he flakes our financially or is abusive (no reason to think he is, but you always have to prepare), or simply if the relationship heads south in a basically friendly manner, you need to have the ability to get the fuck out of Dodge, pronto.

  1. Don’t buy anything you have to make joint payments on to afford. No cars, no waterbeds, no super-duper patio grills. If you can’t pay for it by yourself, don’t buy it.

This helps keep you independent, which is a good thing for now. Debt is a nasty trap, and it’s worse when it’s shared debt with an ex-boyfriend.

  1. Don’t “share” ownership of purchased items, or let him (or other roommates) ‘buy into’ part ownership of what you have. In other words, you buy the toaster, and he buys the microwave, and the toaster is YOURS, and the microwave is HIS.

This facilitates points 1 and 2 above, and also makes sure that you are able to dictate terms (hopefully reasonable and nice) about what happens to your things - such as not pawning them off without warning to make rent money because it’s “partly my toaster so I can sell it if I want,” for example.

  1. (This one’s the hardest, because most people don’t want to be all formal and official about living arrangements) Make sure that the rental agreement is for all of you, and signed by all of you, and if you can, try to get the agreement written so that if someone bails out, you get a chance to terminate the lease if necessary. (Hard to do, but if you’re persistent, you can swing it with the owner/manager.)

In addition, have a written agreement just for all the roomates, signed when you get the apartment, spelling out who is financially responsible for what, and how rent and utilities are going to be managed. Do NOT sign or agree to responsibility as ‘couples’ - this is an individual financial agreement. Do NOT take the easy road of one person who is good with money managing all the bills and then collecting from everyone else. This goes bad places and makes for strained relationships because one of the household is always nagging about bills and payments.

Figure out some professional way to divide costs or manage bank accounts so that this doesn’t happen. Especially avoid YOU being the one responsible for everything, and then the others pay you back. You do not want to be the one holding the bag.

If you make sure to keep yourself financially independent, then it’s much easier to focus on the relationship building and fun times with your roommates, and you’re not as likely to get “stuck” with this one person (even if you like him) because he’s so intertwined into your life. If you feel trapped, you’re less likely to want to be with him forever, just because you feel powerless to change things now. If you’re actively **choosing **to be with him - that’s different, and equally powerful in a good way.

Finally: 5) Try to keep some mystery and ‘distance’ in your relationship - whether it’s separate bedrooms, or not sharing bathroom sink time, or whatever it is - don’t go for full access and total togetherness.

Nothing is as dangerous to infatuation as easy and constant access - where’s the thrill in dressing up right in front of him so he can see your Spanx and how bad your skin is when you’re not wearing makeup? How sexy is it to hear him clearing his nose in the bathroom for 15 minutes before he comes out in dorky boxers or underpants to get dressed for your big date night? How long before your big date night is the two of you in your jammies watching late-night re-runs, and getting cheap popcorn stuck in your teeth?

If you’re not solidly into the affection territory, infatuation doesn’t handle tacky jammies and popcorn nubs very well. Try to keep some mystery around to avoid this last pitfall, and you’ll be doing good to give the relationship every chance it needs to blossom.

These are all good points - seriously, watch some Judge Judy for really good tips about how to NOT get yourself entangled with someone you might not end up with, in ways that end up in small claims’ court. Keeping finances separate, writing agreements out clearly, not buying stuff together, making it clear whether things are gifts or loans, putting everyone on the lease, having a written agreement if one of you moves out, etc.

I’d say that the most important thing for a long term relationship is the ability to move past, not maintain, the infatuation stage. Not every day is romantic. Not every second can be focused on the other. Some days you are going to have to work on something and not come to bed. Some days neither of you are going to be in the mood.
We’ve found that even after 32 years infatuation comes and goes, and it is fun to announce to the other person that you are infatuated with her. But being married is great even when you aren’t infatuated at the moment.

As for disgusting behavior, there is a difference between it happening and it being inflicted on you. Nobody has spewed more things out of more orifices at the same time as my wife did when in labor. (We were quite happy about not choosing birth at home - even the hospital staff was appalled. ) I’m not sure you’d want to call it romantic, but going through it together was a high point, believe it or not.

I’d say a true test is going through a crisis together. Because of geography, we never lived together before being married, by my kid did, and when her boyfriend stuck with her during a crisis I warmed to him quite a bit. They’ve been married for 2 1/2 years and still going strong.

BTW, I definitely agree with keeping finances separated before you are married.

I don’t think you should live together until you both are almost 100% sure that you’re going to get married eventually. Sure, it’s a trial period, but the point isn’t to try out everyone who looks like a possibility.

As far as living together ruining a relationship, I’m sure that’s true in a lot of cases, because there’s nothing to hold you together in hard times. Many of my friends will say that their first year of marriage was one of the hardest and they might have left if they weren’t married.

The commitment has to be there that you’re working on a future not just working on a better or more convenient right now.

Another reason for that specific problem is that sometimes a couple is having problems (often linked to having different expectations), and instead of figuring out what the actual issue is and whether it can/is worth fixing, they say “hey, let’s get married!” Even sadder when the band-aid being applied is “hey, let’s have a baby” :smack:

I’ve had friends do that: he was asking to take their relationship to a new level of seriousness/compromise and for her to occasionally pick up after herself, she answered “oh yes, I do want to have a party!” Three months later, they were filing for divorce and she was moving in with the bestman.

In my anecdote, it was 6 months before she wanted a divorce and we know it was an emotional affair but never found out if it was a physical one. All that after 7 years of cohabitation.

My niece (who’s 1 yr older than me) married her boyfriend at 19. They were both in the Army. They didn’t get to live together for almost 2 yrs after they got married. A few months in he left her. They got back together a few months later and decided to have a kid. He’s left her twice since then. They’re “currently back together” which is how most my family (including her own mother) phrases when they aren’t present.