“At this point, we may as well move in together.”
This was how my freshman-year boyfriend broached the topic of living with me. His suggestion wasn’t undue: In fact, at the time, it made sense. Living together could mitigate the distance, but I recoiled at the idea. My quiet time and a personalized space were my top priorities — I chose to live alone.
For college couples willing to test their dedication, cohabitation can be an attractive alternative to living with roommates. However, in being swept up by the allure of slicing rent rates and curing separation heartache, students run the risk of overcommitting in a time meant for growth and change.
“Before (my partner and I) lived together, we spent most of our time together, so we figured we were already used to seeing each other all the time,” said Bailey Hall, a sustainable studies senior.
Formerly taboo, cohabiting is now considered imperative for selecting a life partner. In the past 50 years, the percent of men and women who live together before marriage increased by nearly 900 percent.
While the process of scoping out potential spouses can seem distant, impending payments are often too close for comfort. “We got an apartment that doesn’t price by the room, so we split the rent in half,” Hall said. “It’s a lot cheaper than any other option.”
For Zoe Chilton and Eamon Stack, financial anxieties played the biggest role in their decision to live together. Even so, trading independence for security can also leave students vulnerable. Chilton, a chemical engineering sophomore, said that because her name is not on the lease, she runs the risk of potentially losing the room in the event of a breakup.
“I had to convince my dad that we were compatible and that I was confident it would work,” said Stack, an engineering sophomore.
This long-term optimism is not supported by data. Cohabitation between the ages of 18 and 22 is linked to less successful marriages. Students wanting to spend the rest of their lives with their college sweetheart would be better served by delaying settling down.
“All the research basically shows that living together under the age of 23 is considered a higher risk period as far as leading to bad outcomes for the relationship,” said Hannah Williamson, a human development and family science professor.
As we ease into our independence, it’s easy for us to forget that we’re still rapidly changing and, in all likelihood, will not reach a sense of stability until our mid-20s. Williamson said this lack of maturity often leads to committing to the wrong person.
Moving in too early has the potential to prevent the growth of freedom necessary in exploring ourselves as individuals. “We spend every minute of the day together, so sometimes I just want a minute alone,” Chilton said. “It’s not your own space anymore either.”
For students in strong relationships — the kind where you spend everyday with your partner and never tire of them — cohabitation is a real possibility that should be considered. Discuss what you stand to lose and gain with your parents, friends and partner — the people who know you best.
College is a time for growth, and relationships can hinder that for many, so think twice before you move in with your significant other.
David is a rhetoric and writing sophomore from Allen.