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Sex & Relationships

Shacking Up: What it Really Means When a Man Considers Moving in With You

People like to hold up the relatively few differences in how men and women perceive the world as unassailable proof that the gulf between the sexes is so wide that men and women may as well be from different planets and accordingly fashioned in the image of opposing gods.  The truth is we have way more in common than not.   The common strand of humanity that binds us is much stronger than our differences.  Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way… holy fcuk, sometime women are so off base with how they assume men see the world I question if we evolved from the same ancestors.

I’ve talked to multiple friends who happen to be female about cohabitation before marriage and a surprising number of them are against it, which itself isn’t strange, but the reasoning behind it… that’s a little thing I like to call ‘the rub’.  So the common (yes common) refrain was that by moving in early women were giving men all of the domestic benefits of a live-in wife without having to pay the price of admission.  Giving the proverbial milk away.

AAcouple23Now it isn’t that I can’t appreciate the benefits of a feminine touch around the homestead.  I’m all for replacing the smell of gym socks with glade plug ins and the sound of the microwave timer clinically noting the successful reheating/desterilizing of week old Chinese food with that of the oven timer heralding the completion of freshly baked brownies.   But quite frankly, chances are the man is already reaping whatever domestic benefits he would from cohabitating if the relationship is at the point of discussing living together.

More importantly, the last thing a man is thinking about when considering moving in with a woman is how awesome it would be to play the adult version of house.

No, what we are worried about is the gravity of what choosing to share a home with someone means.  We’re thinking about the loss of closet space, independence, a non-messy way out if things go south, a neutral corner when an argument happens, personal space, sanctuary, autonomy, and most importantly the ability to make simplest decisions without first considering the needs and desires of another.

If a man wants to move in it simply means that he cares about you, so much so that being with you and taking the next step in the relationship outweighs the sacrifices.  And a lot of us are scared senseless by the prospect.  But the more interesting question is why some women have such a different view.

I can only think of two reasons for the disconnect: 1) a post feminist era suspicion that men see marriage as a way of making women subservient, or 2) women think that men hold the same expectation of post marital bliss and see shacking up as shortcut.  I’m leaning towards the second because the women I discussed this with saw living together as the carrot that bates men into marriage.  Maybe I’m dating the wrong women, but I don’t think living together married or not is turning thoroughly modern women with thoroughly modern sensibilities into June Cleaver.

African-american-couple-dating shacking up - OpinionatedMaleblogAnd I think the different perceptions of marriage is where the disconnect lies.  Men often see marriage from an overly practical (bordering on pessimistic) vantage point while women are conditioned from almost birth the view marriage as a right of passage to some form of happily ever after.  If married life is the other side of the rainbow then skipping to it without the wedding does seem like cheating the system.  Still, I wouldn’t take it well if I was contemplating one of the most serious commitments of my life and the person I was making the gesture towards saw my motive as unpaid domestic servitude.

So readers, what are your thoughts on ‘shacking up’? What does such a step in your relationship mean to you?




Title update on 01/15/19. Post Originally entitled, “Shacking Up: What it Really Means When a Man is Considering Moving in With You”


  • TheBabblingB

    Awesome post! However, from a woman’s prospective let me clear a few things up. I was speaking to a follower of mine on Twitter earlier and although it wasn’t in relation to this particular topic, I think my response still applies. Women will most likely go with w/e route they feel keeps their dignity in tact. It’s not so much that women are 100% against shacking up, but they’re against the result of everyone including their own perception if things go to hell. Women desire affirmation, and marriage before living together often provides that warm snugly blanket of security to shield the chilly consequences of a break up.

    • mediummeech

      Interesting perspective. I didn’t know that women perceived other women shacking up as a sacrifice of dignity. i guess it makes sense if women do actually see it the way I portrayed. I, and most men, however would see marriage as exacerbating the consequences of a potential break up.

  • Aly

    I think a lot of couples fail to have a serious discussion about the future of their relationship BEFORE moving in together. That’s where confusion and resentment about being a domestic servant may come in. It may be an uncomfortable conversation, but I think you have to ask – is this leading to marriage? Then make a decision about whether living together is right for you.
    Personally, if I wanted to get married I wouldn’t live with someone at least until I was engaged. But since I don’t want to get married and I’m generally a heathen, I say shack away! 🙂

    • mediummeech

      Lol, this is my point. We see it as as step towards marriage and nothing else. We don’t see it as a net gain of any benefits. Maybe women are dating some semi-transient quasi homeless men out there looking for a place to stay. Also good to know that heathens are the demographic ok with cohabiting.

      • Aly

        Hmm, I think you’re looking at it from two extremes – men who definitely want to get married and the bums looking for a place to stay. I think a lot of men fall somewhere in the middle – they know they’re making a step toward commitment, but living together is a way to test the waters and postpone marriage to make sure marriage is what they really want.
        Also, just because men know that moving in together means a step toward marriage, doesn’t mean that we (women) automatically know this. We’re not mind readers you know 🙂 That’s why I wrote that there needs to be a conversation – so everyone’s on the same page.

        • mediummeech

          Interesting. So do you think there is something wrong with testing the waters by moving in? I don’t see it as postponing at all, just taking the next step in the relationship.

          • Aly

            No, not at all. But if one person is saying to themselves, “Yes, we’re definitely getting married,” and the other person is like, “Eh, I’m not so sure. Let’s just see how things go.” – then there’s a disconnect.

            • Cortonio

              good points Aly, me personally I don’t ssee the point of marrying a woman unless we’re living together, although I’m flexible. However, I do feel thaat you can never get to REALLY know a person unles you live with them. On the other hand I don’t feel just shacking up for the purpose of shacking up unless there is a purpose. In then end it’s a waste of time. If you really don’t see youtself spending your life with this person, in the end what’s the point. You got your spot and she has hers, and just go back and forth.

  • Ms. Not-Right-Now

    I’m completely against living together before marriage. You talked about women fearing the domestic aspects of shacking up when I think it’s more of the emotional responsibility of shacking up that we fear. Living together starts to require a certain amount of vulnerability, intimacy, and oneness that’s similar to marriage or wifehood. And who wants to invest that much emotionally and oftentimes financially as well without the “snuggly blanket of security”, as theBabblingB puts it, that comes from actually being a married? It’s like when you get a job and the job starts to give you more responsibility but the pay hasn’t been increased and you don’t know if it’s going to increase. Then you’re in an awkward position because you’re doing more so you want more. Do you continually ask for it? Or do you just leave? Because staying’s just gonna piss you off.
    If we live apart and it doesn’t work out, I can always burn the pile of your stuff left over my house and move on. If we shacked up, well not I gotta move the hell out or finish out this lease even though I can’t stand you! Testing the waters is NOT worth that hassle.

    • mediummeech

      Thanks for responding. I actually agree with your point, but just not from a man’s perspective. We don’t see marriage as the ultimate prize, so the sacrifices on our end are more about the person and relationship than the institution so we don’t see it as unequal. It seems like marriage is something men give and women take, kind of like an imperfect analogy to sex.

      • balancedlady

        Wow I never thought about it like that. We as women do see marriage as a “prize” that is given by men that we have to sacrifice and work for instead of focusing more on being with the right person.

  • urbanexpressive

    I’m not against shaking up; but I doubt I’ll do it. I’m just not into playing house. That, plus I don’t really want that level of compromise without any real investment. Then there’s the logistics of it; is my significant other moving in with me, or vice versa. Or possibly starting from scratch. I value my space so I’d hope I can have my own little crash pad even if I did get married.

    • stac

      mess around and find yourself playing house for 6 or 7 years…thats fine if you dont care but if you want marriage, not a good look.
      had a friend cook clean, and basically slave…her bf broke up with her and her mom saw her on a date with girls 2x….soo random but that means he was getting it in with dating
      all that slaving wont get you a ring.
      my story
      with my ex for 4 years…asked for promise ring didnt get it…after he got out of law school, he was staying with me…couldnt take it and broke up with him after 1 month….i just couldnt do it…i think a relationship needs to be damn near perfect to shack up…
      i dont want to be anyones wifey when he just treats me like a girlfriend

  • Wanda

    Being older, and having been married twice. I am leaning toward shacking. I have a friend who has his own house. I on the other hand am renting a house. We both have grown kids and grand children not living with us. To me it makes sense, because I make more money, and I can help him with his bills and we both benefit.

    • Mr SoBo

      From a financial standpoint, there are benefits to shacking up. It is by far a more cost effective way to live as opposed to maintaining two separate households.And considering that you are older and have been through two marriages, presuming the gent falls within similar age group as you, it may prove to be a sound choice for the both of you. After all, relationships are what we make it. I assume he is also fond of the idea?
      Welcome to the OM.

  • Shy Fran

    I totally disagree. I was engaged to a man wasn’t ready to get married but proposed buy time. Ironically, he was hinting towards “shacking up,” which he knew I was totally against. And guess what…we never got married. As I see him now (and who he’s become or always was?) I am 99% sure that he would have dangled that “marriage carrot” in my face as a manipulation tactic as long as I allowed it.
    I am not a fan of making stupid mistakes, or worse mistakes, the second time around so its no shacking for me.

  • veshu

    I agree with you when guys ask to move in together and simply means they are wanting to take the relationship to the next level. Personally I can’t see myself marrying someone I haven’t lived with first. simply because living with someone is deeper than spending the night. you get to see all the flaws there’s no hiding. There is however something’s that need to be discussed before the big moving day. Such as how do you feel bout marriage? how long do you plan to live with me before we get married? How are we handling the bills. Its not like you wake up one day and decide to move in.

  • daydreamer82

    Question is… would you be okay if she had a few shacking experiences prior to you? And perhaps she finds you so special that is wants to do something different–would you agree to living separate but equally in love until after the honeymoon?

  • Jardiem

    Shacking up is a man’s very clever and manipulative way of getting the milk for free. A man who really loves and respects a woman owns it, claims it, and wants the world to know she’s his. He includes her and makes part of his future plans. Such a man would have no problem with marriage and would welcome it.

  • Finally

    The men’s perspective stated here is interesting and I believe those who state it actually believe they sincerely mean it. However if you’re to the point of thinking that it’s worth it to share living space, then at least do your s.o. the courtesy of having the real discussion and reassure her that you see the relationship moving towards marriage–to her! Don’t assume she knows this is what you’re thinking or intending. Better yet, at least be formally engaged so that’s one less question she has running through her mind, which is usually the source of her mixed emotions and feeling like you just want unlimited access to her free milk. Set a time frame for the intermediate step. You should know within 6 months to 1 yr. Any longer is just rude and an indication that you’re not very perceptive or decisive.

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