How Do You Know When It's Right?

Dear Dr. Darcy:

My girlfriend wants to move in together.  It’s been about 7 months, so I can’t accuse her of U-hauling me.  The thing is, I’ve never lived with a partner before.  I’m in my 30’s and I’m very independent, but I get the feeling that if I don’t agree, she’s going to end things.  I just don’t want to make a mistake.  I'm very comfortable in my relationship and I feel like I should be excited by her offer but to be honest, I’m not feeling fireworks.  How do you know when its right?

ANSWER

It’s hard to say.  Is questioning a decision a sign that what you’re contemplating is wrong or a sign that you’re mature and not impulsive?  Are fireworks a sign that you’re feeling passion or a sign that you’re emotionally overwhelmed?  And is comfort a sign of security or an indication of the absence of passion?  We could drive ourselves crazy pondering the ‘how do we knows’ of life.

Personally, I don’t think there are universal signs that something’s right or wrong.   I don’t even know if things are necessarily ever right or wrong, at least initially when we’re in the contemplation mode.  Think about your past relationships… although they all ended, were they necessarily wrong or were they the right relationships for both of you at that time?  And what does ‘right’ mean anyway?  That you’ll live together forever?  What if you do manage to live together forever but the relationship is an unhappy one?  Is that right or wrong?  Would it be better to be in a good relationship for a time-limited period than in a not-so-good relationship for eternity?

Moving in together definitely complicates things and it certainly makes breaking up more difficult.  That said, it also brings a whole new level of intimacy to the relationship which can be amazing – when it’s right.  I know. Your point exactly.

So how to do you know when it’s right?  You don’t.  You close your eyes and jump.  You hope for the best.  You accept that living with someone, like everything in life, will be hard at times and you commit to doing some heavy lifting during those times before you call it quits.

You want to avoid making a mistake but there are no mistakes in life.  Just lessons learned.  So stop waiting for fireworks, or lightening or other signs of divine confirmation.  Thankfully, just about any decision we make in life can be undone.  The universal No Backsies clause expired in 5th grade.