How Living with Your Partner Reveals if You're Ready for the Long Haul

by Dalila Thomas

For too long, it seems women—especially black women—have been led to believe that living with a significant other prior to marriage is the worst thing we can do. Whether it’s because of religious beliefs, the stereotype of black men getting “too comfortable,” or the fear of starting a family out of wedlock, us cohabitating with partners before marriage is often frowned upon.

Personally, I chose to go against grain and shack up with my partner. I was over having a long distance relationship and decided to take a swing at the co-habitation thing. (Yes, without a ring.)

I quickly learned it was the best decision I could make. Why? I was able to really get an in-depth look at the person I loved. After all, you don’t know really know someone until you’ve lived with them.

Here are four things “shacking up” can teach you about your partner, your relationship, and most importantly, yourself.

1. You learn the good, the bad, the ugly about your partner.

When you’re in a relationship, you’ve got a pretty good sense about the person you’re dealing with, especially if you spend a lot of time together. Well, living together sheds light on them through a completely different dynamic. You see everything—mannerisms, behavior patterns, work ethic, cleanliness, etc. All the small things—good and bad—that may not have necessarily been noticeable prior to sharing the same space. This is not necessarily a negative thing, but be prepared to throw that whole "comfort-zone" idea out of the window.

2. You learn how to fight fair and resolve conflict in a healthy way. 

Even in the most stable of relationships, there will always be disagreements and arguments. And now that you live together, there’s no more hanging up on them or waiting days to speak after an argument. Fighting fair becomes a must to avoid hitting below the belt.

3. You learn that you're not perfect. 

If you thought you were perfect, you'll quickly find out you're not. In addition to finding out what makes your partner tick, you get to find out what your weaknesses are, because they will be put on full blast in front your significant other.

4. You'll learn if your mate is who you want to be with forever. 

Basically, living together will provide pretty much all the information you need to know if the relationship is something you want to last for the long haul. It may sound odd, but think of it as test driving a car. What you see is what you get. Ultimately, you're test driving to see if you want to truly make the commitment. What will you decide?

If you're truly considering whether you want to spend the rest of your lives together, I would suggest taking the plunge and living with your significant other, even if it's only for a short amount of time. It’s true test of your relationship, and can help you decide whether or not your union will pass or fail.

Dalila Thomas is a regular contributor to For Harriet.

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