The "moving in together" stage of a relationship is a big move, regardless of what other big steps have been made beforehand. There are multiple smaller stages to it, all with their own emotions and meanings, and it's different for every couple. Seeing as I have just moved in with my boyfriend, I felt the need to document the various smaller steps.
If you're thinking of moving in with your significant other or are just curious about what it was like for us, read on! And, if you'd like, send it to your special someone as a hint.
Step 1: Privately thinking about it.
This is when you start thinking you may want to move in with them but are still uncertain; there are no discussions between the two of you, and you may bring it up in passing with your friends. Overall, you're still uncertain if that's what you want, but the idea also gives you the same butterflies your loved one gives you when they smile that certain way.
Step 2: Actually admitting it.
You finally crack and say it to someone. For me, I slipped at one point and talked about moving in together—we both had to move out of apartments at the end of our leases, it was several months away and I just wasn't thinking straight. You may whisper it in hushed giggles with a close friend or admit it to a parent if they press about how your relationship is going.
However it happens, you're now open to having the people close to you know it's what you want.
Hopefully, your partner is in agreement, even if you may have different ideas on when.
Step 3: Serious conversations about it.
Something may have to trigger this step—like your leases running out at the same time and needing to save some money by having a cheaper monthly rent—but it's when the two of you begin looking at apartments (or condos or houses) together. You're seriously talking about how to split rent and utilities, what your preferences are and making a list of places to check out.
Step 4: Finding a place.
There's a difference between having serious conversations and actually finding a place. The difference is simple: you've found a place to move to. You may not have the lease signed yet, but you know where you want to live and are working towards living there.
Step 5: Signing the lease.
You may have found the place, but it isn't really solidified until it's legally binding. That lease you just signed? With the love of your life? It's a moment of pure joy. It cements the fact that, yes, you two will be living together. No more driving to see them and dealing with curfews. No more feeling bad when they drive over to take care of you when you're sick.
Step 6: Packing.
It's a normal stage of moving at all, but this time you're taking inventory of what you have versus what you need at the new place—and thinking of what your S/O has. You may end up finding out you have duplicates of items that you don't need, or you may find out that neither of you has a key item (like a full-sized couch). It's less rose-tinted glasses now and more realistic and rational, but I promise it gets all floaty again.
Step 7: Moving in together.
People typically think of this as the one thing to moving in together, but in reality, it's just a small part. This is when you're physically moving in with each other, with cars full of boxes and cleaning supplies and stress over where everything is going. For some people, this could last a day. For others, it could be over the span of a week.
Either way, this is when the move-in process is actually happening.
Step 8: Settling in.
After physically moving into the new place together, it's time to actually get settled. Furniture should be in place, most boxes should be unboxed and items put away and you should finally have the chance to breathe... and realize your reality: you are now fully moved in with the love of your life.
This is when those floaty feelings come back.
Step 9: Happily ever after.
Ok, so that's a bit of an over-dramatization, but my point still stands: things are way better when you live with your loved one. Have a bad day? Cuddle on your couch until it's bedtime. Rough morning? They can help you with breakfast.
It's just better.
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