Dating Column: Is moving in together worth it?

couple in their new home.happy family  with boxes moving to new home
Moving in together before marriage. Yay or nay? (Photo: Gettyimages) (LuckyBusiness via Getty Images)

Welcome to A Millennial's Dating Diary series, where we explore real-life interactions and the hurdles of dating in Southeast Asia. The series will feature the dating stories and misadventures of Arika – a 26-year-old, straight female marketing manager with a penchant for over drinking — and fellow millennials.

Lately, my partner *Mark, 31 has been making jokes about us moving in together when our leases run out some time next year. Disclaimer: Mark knows that I’m a little wary of things moving too quickly in our relationship, and has been making jokes about moving in together, marriage, and more to annoy me.

Now, while I’m fully aware he’s kidding about us cohabiting — we have, after all, only known each other for six months — I can’t help but think there’s some truth to what he’s saying.

Living with a partner can be amazing. Not only are rent and bills cheaper, the idea of coming home to someone you love, is just plain lovely.

Still, having lived with partners before, I know exactly how messy (and sometimes risky) living together with someone you’re romantically involved with can be.

Take for example my toxic involvement with a guy who was cheating on his girlfriend with me. When his then-girlfriend found out that he had been cheating, she promptly moved out of the home they shared, leaving him to foot the rent, utilities, and more. Eventually, he moved out as well. Looking back, he once blurted out that one of the reasons he was still with his girlfriend was because he needed her help to pay rent.

While living with my ex, *Jack, 28, we would often get into petty fights over chores, and other miscellaneous issues. Soon, living together was taking a toll on the relationship. At the onset of the pandemic, we had no escape from each other. From work stress to mood swings, we were, in some ways, victims to each other’s negative energies. Long walks around our condo became my respite. Often, I’d take about two hours to run “errands” so I could have some time alone.

Jack was also homesick a lot of the time because he could not travel back, and while I sympathised, it was also becoming painful to take on his emotional burden.

Eventually, I suggested he speak to a therapist because the strain was too much.

Cohabitation can bring out the worst in people, and I’ve seen it first hand, which makes me anxious about the prospect of moving in with Mark because I don’t want to end up ruining a good thing.

But I also know cohabitation can be great.

“You learn so much about yourselves as a couple. You learn what you can live with, and what you can’t stand,” says my friend *Leanne, 31, who moved in with her boyfriend two months ago. “It’s been great, really. I’ve always wanted to live with a partner and now we’re in each other’s lives so much, I get a glimpse of what married life could be like.”

In fairness, I’m of the opinion that if you can stand seeing each other every day without wanting to throw each other off the balcony of your building, I think living together can be kind of sweet.

Seeing as how Mark and I have not had any major arguments about our habits (touch wood as I write this) despite the fact that we spend about 80 percent of our time together at his apartment, I’m starting to think we could actually make this work.

I know that I’ve gotten so used to sleeping next to Mark that my sleep cycle gets royally messed up when I return to my own flat for a night. It’s gotten so bad that I’ve contemplated coming over to his place at 2am just so I could sleep better. I’m not proud of this.

There’s also something super comforting about waking up to Mark’s face every morning, knowing that I’ll be spending a whole day with him — even if we’re just working from home.

Often, after a night out with my girlfriends, I’m excited to come home to Mark, knowing he’s equally thrilled to see me. It just makes life infinitely better when you know you’re coming home to someone you love.

So, is cohabitating before marriage worth it? With the right person, it just might be.