One month ago, I broke my ankle. It was a sort of freak accident – a simple fall on the stairs (being the klutz that I am, that part wasn’t unusual), but one that resulted in a fracture. I was at a bar, and after it happened, I went straight to my boyfriend’s place. He met my cab at the corner, and he’s barely left my side since then.
Navigating New York City on crutches is no easy feat, nor is going about the simplest everyday tasks with a broken bone and a painkiller-clouded brain. So, once I injured myself, my boyfriend started sleeping at my apartment every night. He helped me with meals, propped my foot up, and provided all-around company while I was incapacitated.
Now that the fracture is healing and I need less maintenance, we’re slowly getting back to our pre-anklegate routine: three to five sleepovers and a handful of shared dinners a week. And I’m sad about it. The kicker? He lives across the street from me. I could run to his place, give him a kiss and run back in the span of five minutes if I wanted to. It’s not that I’m dependent on him, or that I don’t like my roommates, but I’ve gotten used to Andy’s regular presence – kissing him goodbye when he leaves for work in the morning, hanging out and playing some pre-dinner Mario Kart with him at night; it just felt so natural and easy.
So, we should move in together, right? It’s not like it hasn’t crossed my mind. After nearly two-and-half years together, if friends aren’t pestering us about marriage, they’re asking us about living together. And they aren’t the only ones. He recently told me he wants to make the move when our leases are up—it’s the logical next step, he says.
My response, which he knew was coming, was hesitation. When it comes to pre-marital cohabitation, I see two camps: those who say a couple must live together before marriage, and those who say the ring’s gotta come first.
I’ve always made it clear I’m in the latter camp. And I now know Andy’s in the former. I figured, when the conversation came up, I’d be able to easily convince him of the merits of my opinion, and we’d happily live apart until we make the mutual commitment of life-long togetherness and get engaged.
But not only am I having trouble convincing him, I also find I’m struggling to convince myself. So what’s my issue?
I understand most of his reasons for wanting to sign a lease together: it’s the next step toward marriage, it’ll solidify our already strong relationship before we start planning a wedding, not to mention we practically live together anyway. And he has a rebuttal or a swift eye-roll for mine: dating isn’t the enduring commitment that engagement is, things can still fall apart, mixing finances pre-marriage is dangerous and messy, and that I need to live on my own at some point.
That last point is a big one for me. I used to think I’d never want to live alone—I grew up with so many siblings that I now crave human company and contact almost all the time. But, in the past year, my tune has changed, and I decided several months back that living solo was something I just had to do before getting married. It’ll help me assert my independence, take care of myself and my life in a way I never have, and give me the opportunity to be completely and totally selfish when it comes to my quarters. If I want to paint my walls chevron, then god dammit, I’m going to do it! If Andy and I move in together, that all goes out the window.
But, of course, he has a counterpoint for this one too: Just because I “live alone” doesn’t mean I’ll really live alone. I currently have two roommates and he’s made himself at home in our abode – take them out of the equation, and he may as well have his own closet in my place. The guy’s got a point. It’s not like I’m actually single, or I want to get away from my boyfriend – so why do I care so much about this, what, rite of passage? I’ve yet to figure that out.
We’ve talked ourselves in circles, to the point where I’m dizzy with pros, cons, rights and wrongs running through my head. For a long time, I feared being on a different page than my boyfriend – that I would love him more, that I’d be ready to get serious before he would. Now that he’s sufficiently quelled those fears, these new ones made their appearance, and I was so not prepared.
How do I decide? Who do I listen to? I can’t say my gut, because now even that is unclear on the right choice. And that’s just it: There is no right choice. Our relationship is its own entity; it can’t be compared to anyone else’s and it can’t move forward by following a road map. This decision isn’t life or death—literally or figuratively. I have to make a decision, trust it, and be happy with it. I don’t know what we’re going to do when it comes to our next lease(s), but I know our relationship is strong enough to not only survive, but also thrive regardless of whether or not we share an address.