“Why don’t you guys live together?” Over the years of dating and distances spent apart, this is a question my boyfriend and I get asked frequently.
The truth is, my boyfriend, Matt, and I have spent quite a bit of time living apart. When Matt and I first began dating I was a senior in college and he had already graduated from school. He would make the hour or so drive out to our little college town every few weekends and I would visit him as well. Just before I finished my time at school, he accepted a new role within his company in South Carolina. This move took him hundreds of miles away as I started my first job in Cincinnati. Eventually, I moved into an apartment with one of my co-workers near downtown and Matt returned to Cincinnati and moved into a new apartment, now across the street from me.
Most people assume that moving in together is a logical next step for every serious relationship, so I understand why this question comes up so frequently. But as much as I adore Matt and can’t wait to create a life together with him, I’m grateful that we have made the intentional decision to savor our own space during our dating years. In a few years, I know I will be all too ready to start a marriage and a life with him, but for now here are four reasons why we choose to embrace our separate space:
1. Independence: One of the greatest lessons my mom has passed down to me is the importance of maintaining your independence in any relationship. She always reminded me that even if your boyfriend or fiancé is your best friend whom you love more than anyone, independence gives you the freedom to continue to decide what is best for you and pursue you own interests. Every couple needs their own interests, friends, and space to help keep their life balanced.
2. Flexibility: There will come a day when I know I will treasure a routine of dinner, dishes, and bedtime, but that day is far from now. There is something so fun and special about being a young professional, and it often means late nights and unconventional schedules. Living on my own gives me the freedom to come and go as I please, without the worry of how it may be affecting my significant other.
3. Intentional Time: Whether it’s time we are spending together or time we are spending with others, Matt and I still maintain our own independent schedules and desires for how we spend our time. We carve out time for one another, as well as for our friends and family. We embrace the people and time we spend outside of our relationship because we know it’s an important part of finding balance.
4. The Actual Space: Matt’s apartment is filled with concert posters and craft beer, while I prefer an abundance of candles and plush linens. We both know that one day we will have to meet in the middle, but for now we enjoy expressing ourselves through our own personal spaces.
You may argue that many of these are not deal-breakers when married or living together, but for now having our own spaces helps us to continue to grow as single people and nurture these other important areas of our lives. One day, I will be all too excited to share a space with Matt and continue our adventure together, but for now I am going to enjoy what we have right now. I hope this offers some encouragement to those of you who feel the same pressure to move in with the person you are dating.