Checkpoint 1: Going Exclusive AKA Subletting And Couch Surfing
Assuming you haven't yet decided to return to the open market within the first two or three months of dating (though some stunted commitment-phobes may take as long as six, seven or 22 months, to the chagrin of their blue-in-the-face partner), you might decide to go "exclusive." Just like subletting an apartment, this is commitment in its most riskless form: you're dipping the tip in the waters of permanent residency just to see what it feels like. With your own books and furniture still in storage, you can walk out any month you feel like it, without worry of losing a security deposit or (if your partner is particularly vengeful) your balls.
Checkpoint 2: Pledging Devotion AKA 6-Month Lease
Somewhere between four to seven months in, you pledge devotion to your partner by uttering those three most equally feared and revered words in the English language: "I love you." And with that single declaration, you, my friend, have signed your first short-term lease. Perhaps you've signed for six months, maybe a year, but by expressing your true feelings so honestly, you've now made it clear that you aren't going anywhere… for awhile, at least. One brutal caveat to this seemingly lovely checkpoint: once you make the decision to bare your soul, anticipating your partner's response can be as torturous as waiting for a sweaty old Slovakian landlord from Craigslist to approve you for a killer East Village apartment.
Checkpoint 3: Long-Term Commitment AKA A Real Apartment
No matter what your relationship is like, everyone experiences the same Checkpoint 3. If you've both made it to One Year without shuddering at the thought of continuing to fondle the same genitals in perpetuity, you are now facing the precipice of a long-term relationship. By celebrating your first anniversary, you are basically celebrating the future of your relationship. While exciting, this can be an especially frightening checkpoint. The decision to renew your annual lease for another year can feel like doubling down simply because, well, it is. And while a lease can always be broken, that undertaking is anything but easy. The Moving-In-Together Survival Guide