There are many reasons why people choose to live with their significant others. For some, it's a result of their engagement or maybe it's financial, but for many it's simply a mutual agreement.
While in reality we no longer live in a day and age where “shacking up" is considered abnormal, there are still many people who frown upon the idea because they believe it promotes pre-marital children and can somehow prevent a man from making you his wife.
I was 19 years old and a junior at Spelman College in Atlanta when I made the decision to move in with my boyfriend and his roommate. Four years later, while living together in Los Angeles, I still get the same negative judgment from people.
As someone with Puerto Rican heritage, I don't receive direct judgment from my family, as it's common in our culture for young women to live with their boyfriends. Not to mention the fact that we're from New York and don't necessarily have traditional beliefs. However, this judgment is often from the parents of my friends – mainly from the South. I remember having a pretty intense conversation with one of their moms. Her argument being that I'd probably never get a ring since we live together, I can hear her now saying “Hunny, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?"
"Hunny. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?"
The fact is, if I had made that decision at 19 to be his wife there would be no judgment, but there also wouldn't be any happiness in a union between two college students unprepared for that commitment. So, yes, I am perfectly fine with shacking up.
For starters, it's more affordable. When I first made the decision to move in with my boyfriend, it was purely financial. We were ALWAYS spending time together, and I just couldn't rationalize paying rent for my apartment that was always empty. It's no different for us financially than living with a roommate. We split bills and are not financially dependent on one another. I also don't place this unrealistic expectation on him to pay for everything. We live comfortably together, as opposed to the struggle life individually.
We're also able to get to know each other better. In fact, many of the older women who judge me for living with my boyfriend fail to realize that often their mentees, nieces, etc. are unhappy within their own relationships. No shade, but many young women make bad choices in men and focus on the wrong things even with this so-called “advice."
Relationships are all about the chemistry. Living with my boyfriend for several years, I have learned so much about him. The habits that I love and the things that get on my nerves, and I am happy to say they're things I can deal with.
I feel comfort in knowing the man I will marry will not be a complete stranger to me. But more importantly, he will be a man that genuinely respects and cares for me.
"I feel comfort in knowing the man I will marry will not be a complete stranger to me."
My man also keeps me motivated. As a woman who works a full-time corporate job in addition to pursuing my dream as an entertainment reporter, my schedule is insane. Sometimes I spend 12 hours in the office then head to a red carpet event. From there, I have to stay up until 2 am editing my footage. Being able to come home to a supportive man provides me with the peace I need to keep me motivated.
He's also extremely creative, works in the film industry and often spends long nights with me providing input and feedback while I'm editing my own footage. He even reviewed this blog post for me. Overall, he is an important part of my support system, and it's those late night random conversations where we're really able to get to know each other on a much deeper level.
Also, let's face it many young women get pregnant while living right under their parents' roof, so living with my boyfriend clearly doesn't mean that I am at greater risk of having pre-marital children than any other woman. Intimacy is more than sex, and living with my boyfriend has definitely taught me that.
When a woman questions “Why buy the cow if you can have the milk for free?" she forgets to acknowledge that the milk isn't free. I know my current goals and do not feel the need to validate my choices to older women who live by traditional values. The same values, which left many women in unhealthy and unhappy marriages.
My name is Jaleesa Lashay and I choose to shack up...unapologetically.
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