"Why don't you live with your boyfriend?"
I've been asked this question for years. About two thirds of couples don’t get married anymore until they’ve lived with their proposed lifetime partner and it has become even more apparent with millennials. It's hard enough that my generation has a fear of commitment, but they also won't get married until they "test drive" their relationship. So why not dive in like everyone else?
Cohabitation usually starts with fear
It starts with: "Aren't you scared you won't be compatible?"
People always say love should be easy, and it's true; but loving someone is different than living with someone. Living together is a learning process. It's always going to be an adjustment to live with another person, and it's also another living adjustment to live with a man, especially your boyfriend. I'm sure men can say the same about living with women. But what remains a constant variable is that no matter how perfect the relationship is, there will always be adjustment, conflict, and compromise. So what if I don't realize until marriage that we can't agree on decor, or that my husband shits with the door open, and never rinses his dishes? These issues can be resolved with a simple open discussion and if you can't work out the petty issues of living habits without getting into an argument, you clearly have underlying communication problems at hand. If I jump into living with someone simply looking for reasons why they won't work out, I'm already setting the relationship up for failure.
There are other ways to "test" the union
There are many other significant variables that can test your relationship. The one that I find most important is meeting each others' families. Meeting the family and spending time (and possibly a holiday) together is a gauge of how comfortable you'll be long-term. Getting to know the family, learning new traditions, listening to gossip, and seeing if his or her family warms up to you is important. For years to come, you will be spending time with family and if you can't stand them, or they can't stand you, it's a red flag. It's not fun to feel like you're walking on eggshells when it comes to family, and it won't be fun for years to come. There are success stories of those who fought for acceptance until marriage, but those are the exception, not the rule.
It's the "'convenient" solution
"You spend all this time together, you're at each others' homes regularly, so you might as well move in and save money" - is a common reason why couples move in together. But if someone wants to take a huge commitment just to save money, then that diminishes credibility in making any serious decision together in the future. I want someone to commit to me because there isn't anyone else they'd rather spend their life with, not to save them money on rent.
Learning their financial situation
Money is one of those topics no one ever wants to bring up. We're all embarrassed about how much we make, how much debt we have, and what our credit score is. We want to continue the facade that we have our shit together, and our financial situations reveal mistakes we've made in the past, or are still making . That's okay, but as long as you two can discuss your situations without judgment and set goals together, you can help each other grow financially. The "money talk" is something you should be discussing prior to marriage, and you don't need to move in together to talk about it. If you're serious about building a life together you should be discussing every element in a future marriage.
It's about Common Values
Although I find communication to be a huge part of success in a relationship, it is an element that can be developed over time with work. It really comes down to common values. For example, if religion is important to your partner and you want no part in participating at all, conflict is inevitable. Other examples include one wanting children, while the other does not. One of my deal breakers is a man's relationship with his family. If he shows utter disrespect to his family, it's a huge red flag. If he can't be respectful to his own family, what are the chances he'll be respectful to mine in the future? Understanding each other's common values sets expectations. Values are the foundation of a relationship, and they should be known if you're looking to build a life and possibly a family together.
Call me traditional, but I want someone to move in with me because they know I'm it. Not some because of some bullshit reason to save money or shrug and say "well, we might as well". My ideals may be going extinct, but I stick to my guns. If someone wants to take the next step of moving in together, it's because they want to marry me. I am a ride-or-die bitch, not someone to settle for.