by Dr. Fayr Barkley, Ph.D
It starts out very insidiously. You have a few dates with a new man; dinner, movie, an event with mutual friends. All is going well and it feels like you have been together forever. You invite him over to your place for pizza and a DVD. He brings his toothbrush and you think nothing of it since he is staying the night and it is just
a toothbrush. A week later you look in your fridge and there are 7 types of bread, a six pack of beer – none of which you have bought.
As you stand there ferreting through all his food stuff, you realize the amount of laundry you have been doing lately has doubled. Sure, he has been spending the last several nights at your place. Why not? He is easy to get along with, the sex is great and since he does live one town over, it is just more convenient for the both of you. You also realize that since he has been camping out at your place, he has acquired two of your dresser drawers, several hangers in your closet and now his car AND his motorcycle are parked in your driveway. And then it hits you: When did he move in?
You tell yourself, “I should have seen it coming.” You are no stranger to the toothbrush routine and this isn’t your first rodeo. But here it is again–a situation that went from inertia to warp speed, from just meeting and starting to date to finding his socks and underwear all over the house. As you stand bewildered in front of the fridge wondering who on earth needs 7 types of bread, you hear him in the living room on his cell phone telling the newspaper to change his delivery from his house to yours.
When did this turn from casual to commitment without a summit conference and press release? Why didn’t you get the memo? And most importantly, are you ready for cohabitating with a man you really haven’t known very long? Isn’t the reason for dating to get to know someone well enough through all the seasons before you make a life altering decision such as this?
Moving in together changes a lot and for those of us women who are accustomed to living on our own, it can mean redesigning our plans, patterns, and daily decisions. It means having to have 24/7 consideration for the person who is now under our roof. Moving in is a big decision that should not be taken lightly nor without much discussion. Ground rules need to be set. (Don’t leave your dirty underwear and newspapers all over the house.) Division of labor needs to be addressed. (If he cooks, you clean up the kitchen.) Finances need to be discussed. You need to discuss what is and what is not acceptable to you; since it is YOUR roof he is living under. And you also need to let him know where you draw the hard line that can get him kicked out.
If your new man starts to move in on you, be aware of the tell tale signs. It usually begins with a toothbrush. The best case scenario is that things go wonderfully and the relationship is strengthened; but this can only happen with honest communication and boundaries that are set and respected by both parties.
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