###It was the last time my age hindered me while I was in college. The remainder of senior year was down to single digits, and it was my boyfriend’s birthday. I wanted to provide him with a nice dinner and get him some of his favorite beer; I wasn’t smart enough to know how to cook a nice dinner, so we went out to pizza; and I wasn’t old enough to buy him his beer, so I had a friend do it. She got me the wrong kind. He and I sat on my balcony; he sipped his offbrand beer, and I sat, dejected, because the day hadn’t been perfect. I was half a bottle into pretending I liked the beer when he looked at me, smiled, and said, “What if we moved in together?”
It’s called “popping the OTHER question,” and it’s happening more than you think: nearly half of women reported their first union was cohabitation, as opposed to marriage, in a study titled “Knot Yet.” (Get it?) But as exciting as this new frontier may seem (Picking out curtains together! Buying new kitchenware together!) and as unglamorous as it actually is (my number one tip: buy a poop candle), there’s one huge thing on your cohabitation checklist that you can’t ignore: telling your parents. Hopefully, they’ll be as excited for you and your significant other as you are… unfortunately, mine were less than thrilled. We’ve gotten to a place where it’s ok now, but here are a few things I kept in mind leading up to The Talk:
1. Remember, it’s your decision.
Their reactions may be more different than you think. My parents are divorced: my traditional and conservative father didn’t take well to the news, and kept telling me that he’d be more comfortable if I’d waited until after I’d gotten married. My happy go lucky mother loved the idea, and she loves my boyfriend so much, she suggested that we might as well go get married. Even though their opinions contrasted, they still wanted me to take on a commitment I wasn’t ready for. I held firm and insisted that I did what my boyfriend and I thought was best for our relationship right now, and that was cohabitating.
It’s your life. There should be no pressure involved, whether it’s your significant other pressuring you to say yes, or your family pressuring you to say no, or anyone pressuring you to take on more than you want (even if they offer to pay for the honeymoon). Stick to your guns: you’re a strong, independent woman who can and will make her own decisions. Don’t let anyone forget that. Beyonce never has.
2. Your SO should be your supporter, but not the only one.
If you don’t think your family will be jumping for joy once you tell them the news, you’ll likely lean on your significant other to get you through the experience. My boyfriend and I talked about it for months, hammering out exactly how I’d tell my parents and prepping for every reaction. It’s something that affects the two of you, but don’t let it consume your life; I will admit, several fights were had over an issue that we sided with each other on. Go to your friends and other people who know you or your parents well, and get their point of view; it makes sense that you’ll want to talk about it a lot, but mix up who listens! (Never bore the same person twice, I like to say.) You’ll get some new perspectives and you don’t have to overwhelm your boyfriend or girlfriend with your panic, especially if they don’t know your family very well.
Important: pay attention to your friends’ advice. You know your over-protective family is dissuading you from moving in, but are all of your friends saying the same thing? Maybe you’re jumping the gun.
3. Don’t tell your parents with your SO present.
Honesty and openness is the name of the game here, and, quite frankly, your parents will be a lot more transparent with just you than they will in front of your future roommate.
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