Awhile back, my son and his girlfriend split after living together for less than a year. I had a nice relationship with his girlfriend and after the emotional reaction, the practical side kicked in. I knew he was 27 and perfectly capable of taking care of himself and I didn't ask him any of the "Mom, give me a break!" questions. Being a communciation coach and knowing my son, it wasn't all that hard to resist the temptation.
However, it did trot through my concerned maternal mind for a minute or two while I zigzagged to that liberating answer to all questions that really are nobody's business, "I don't know what he'll do and he knows exactly what to do." This, by the way, has not always been my reasoning in past events of emotional upheaval and the subject of another blog.
Regardless of that, I wondered - What are they going to do with all the furnishings and stuff they just bought together? How are they going to divide it up? And I'm seeing the scene of "When Harry Met Sally" where Harry says, "You better put your name on everything so when you break up you know who gets the wagon wheel table."
Which brings me to this point. I never lived with my French ex-husband before getting married way back in 1980 and it was not at all a problem getting settled and used to each other when we finally did live together. We'd already been students together, knew each others' families, had traveled together for nearly 2 years. Then we lived on two different continents for another 18 months when I returned to Los Angeles to finish my studies. We finally got married in 1980 and I moved back to France permanently. Yes, I am also an expert in long-distance relationships, cross-cultural ex-pat issues and culture shock and how that affects relationships, all of which are topics for more blogs.
A couple of days after the announcement of their break-up, I had this very interesting discussion with two 30-something highly successful women at the top of their game on this very subject of living together or not. They both agreed that they would never recommend living with a man again before getting married. The one who is married, said she had lived with 3 men. By the time she met her husband she had decided that even in a committed relationship, she still needed her own space and didn't feel the need to live together before getting married. In fact, she was categorically against the idea. They knew enough about each other already.
The advantages of living apart, she said, are what keeps the dating and romance exciting, while maintaining her social life with her girlfriends, and allowing them to keep their independence and freedom within a loving, romantic and passionate relationship. She didn't want to get too comfy cozy and settled too quickly into the "slipper mode" as I call it.
The other woman agreed, too, for reasons similar to Harry's. "It's just such a lot of work to move in together, then move out if/when it falls apart. There comes a point in a relationship where people know if they can live together without having to move in together before getting married. And we can be completely committed and still keep our own living space."