He's Broke and Ready to Shack Up, but I'm Not
Ask Demetria: Pass on playing house until you're sure the relationship -- and you -- can handle it.
But then I read a 2010 study by the National Center for Health Statistics that debunked the long-held belief that couples who cohabitate before marriage are more likely to divorce. The study found that in an era when about two-thirds of couples who marry live together first, there are few differences between those who cohabitate and those who don't.
Of those who had ever cohabitated before marriage, the probability that they'd still be together after 10 years is 60 percent for women. Meanwhile, those who did not cohabitate have a 66 percent chance of still being married after a decade. Whether moving in together is right depends on the couple's specific situation.
If you choose to cohabitate as a test run for marriage, I get it. Truthfully, you don't know anyone until you live with that person. It's a fact to which anyone who's ever shared a dorm room or apartment with even their same-sex best friend can testify. And for that reason, I totally get why a couple would want to share the same space and feel each other out and know if they can commit to forever-ever. In this case, even if cohabitation -- and by proxy the relationship -- doesn't work out, it's better to know that your conflicts can't be overcome prior to being locked into marriage.
But cohabitating without an end goal just isn't a wise move. I've counseled too many women who moved in with their partners, thinking that it meant the relationship was going "somewhere," and it was really just a convenient and temporary setup for their significant other. They took on all the responsibilities of a wife and received none of the privileges. They were devastated when things didn't work out as they'd hoped.
I also know too many guys who lived with their partner, only to end up homeless, sleeping on a friend's couch and giving up almost all of their stuff (out of chivalry, really) when things went awry in the relationship. In both situations the endings were ugly, an added-on hell to an already unpleasant breakup. But these outcomes were inevitable because either the couple moved in together for the wrong reasons or there was never an end goal for sharing a space.
I tell you this so you don't feel guilty about your decision. As a concerned girlfriend of two years, surely you want to accommodate your partner's wishes, but it's important that you consider the long-term effects of his short-term needs.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.