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8 Things To Discuss Before Moving In With Your Partner

Love & Relationships

With today's rising rent, the topic of cohabitation tends to swirl around quite a bit.


Sharing an apartment with your boyfriend or girlfriend combines two things we all love - our boo and saving money. But even if money is not the main driving force, taking this step can be life-changing and either be the beginning of something amazing or something you wish never happened. It's about building a life with someone, creating a home together, and starting off on a journey that very often leads to marriage, family, and all that other Happily Ever After stuff.

Last year, my boyfriend and I moved in together. It wasn't our first time around that block, each having been briefly married previously. But, despite what we knew about the process, we still had a lot to learn about each other. The dating process tends to create this lovely filter, catching all things deal-breaking and fear inducing. You put your best foot forward and then go home and return to the version of yourself that no one else sees. If you're thinking about taking this step, you should also be ready to pull back that filter and embrace what's real. My advice is to sit down with your potential new roomie and have a sincere conversation about the immediate future. Here are a few talking points to get you started.

Decide What Moving In Together Means

Straight out the gate, this should be the very first thing discussed. If it isn't already implied or clearly understood for both of you, take the time to do that. Does moving in mean marriage? Does moving in mean saving money and keeping things loose? Relationships come in all shapes and sizes and, therefore, so do relationship expectations. Leave room for change, because things will evolve along the way. Have this conversation often and openly. Living together takes dating into a space that will affect your very livelihood. Merging means change and change requires trust. Of all the many ways you'll have to compromise, this is not one.

What About Your Friends?

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You're not just moving in with another person, you're moving in with another person's entire life. Their social circle is likely an important part of that life and one that very well may be at your doorstep on occasion. Its safe to assume that if you and your partner are already talking about living together, that you've met each other's entourage so take a moment to bring up any concerns therewithin. Do you have a friend who creeps him out? Does he need to vacate the premises when you host your bi-monthly brunch? How will your home be opened up to each other's circle of friends is important to discuss. This won't just be your space, after all, so the level of comfort you both have in your home is equally important.

Make An Agreement About Household Chores

My advice when it comes to household chores? Assign them like it's mama's house. Who cooks and on what days? Who does the dishes? Assuming that these things will work themselves out is the quickest way to play yourself. Sure, on a good day everyone offers to be as helpful as possible. But when life gets hectic, irritating, or strained, the volunteering tends to stop. Eliminate the guesswork by deciding in advance who will do what. Three days a week, I make dinner (because my partner gets home from work late). On those days, he does the dishes. I do most of the meal planning and he handles garbage and recycling. We've had arguments about a lot of things, but dinner and dishes has never been one of them.

Define Your Social Expectations

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Moving in together should not be the beginning of your life as co-hermits - okay, maybe during the cold months. But in general, living together should be a way in which you both get to experience a new level of commitment. There are new requirements and new roles and one of those is the role of social supporter. Push each other to stay engaged in all the things they were before the move. Be each other's cheerleader when the energy to get up and go is low. Be each other's activity partner even if the activity isn't your fave. Coupledom slows life down a bit and brings you home when you otherwise would have gone out. Finding the balance is the difference between being a Netflix and Chill couple and a Power Couple.

Create An Emergency Only Exit Strategy

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We can't talk about the beginning of something without talking about it's potential end. Things happen and sometimes relationships don't work out. The finger-pointing and back and forth that come with a breakup shouldn't have to muddle logistics. From the very beginning, outline who keeps the apartment, who keeps the couch, and who keeps the deposit. This also frees you both from feeling any uncertainty about your living situation should you feel the relationship needs to end. There's nothing worse than having to stay somewhere you don't want to, simply because you can't afford to leave.

Cleaning Under the Rug

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Time to talk about that argument you had a few months ago that never got resolved. Or admit to each other what pet peeves have been driving you up the wall. It doesn't have to be serious, but take the time to air things out. Whatever isn't getting talked about now, can find its way back in later, possibly in the form of an eruption. You won't have the "safety" of retreating to your seperate corners now that all of your corners will be shared. So, bite the bullet and keep it all the way real in the name of love.

Have An Awkward Conversation About Money

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Around the time we started looking for apartments, my boyfriend and I had an awkward conversation about credit. It was one of those, "Tell me yours and I'll tell you mine" situations where we both walked away knowing way more about each other than we had before. But in the end, being honest about finances has been a benefit to our growth. We also talked about how household expenses would be divided. It doesn't always have to be about how money is spent, you can also discuss how your money can grow together. Plan out an investment strategy so that even in the event of a break up, you both walk away winners.

Define Your Deal-Breakers.

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Everyone has a line (or two) that absolutely cannot be crossed. Cheating, lies, bad habits that affect others - whatever it is, make it clear that a violation will result in the relationship ending. It's way too easy to feel a sigh of relief once keys have been exchanged and mail has been forwarded. It can give the false illusion that the relationship is permanent, when in reality, no relationship is permanent when it's mistreated. This might be a conversation you have with yourself before you have it with bae, but at some point, it's important to show your worth and lay out what won't be tolerated.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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