(Closed) Serial Cohabitors – good, bad, and ugly

posted 5 years ago in Relationships
Post # 2
9172 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2013

i lived with my bf when i was in my early 20-mid 20’s, about 3 years.  but i didn’t want to marry him and we broke up.

when Darling Husband moved in with me, about 5 months before getting engaged, we knew we wanted to marry each other. 

my previous experiences are just that, experiences, you live and learn.  living with someone previously had no bearing on me living or not living with someone again.


Darling Husband also lived with gfs before me.  he had a life that existed before me as i had a life that existed before him.

Post # 3
5154 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2014

Ms.PatientBee:  I wouldn’t consider you a “serial” cohabitor, or your boyfriend, if you’ve each only lived with one other person. I don’t think that’s a big deal at all. 

Post # 4
118 posts
Blushing bee

My SO and I have both lived with 1 ex in the past. I lived with my ex for1 year and I broke up with him b/c I knew he wasnt the one. He lived with an ex for 1 year and they both realized that they were not compatible long term. I dont think those past experiences should have any effect on what you do in your curent relationship. Circumstances change just like people change. I just think it is important to be very secure in your decision to do it. My SO and I have lived together from 3 months into our relationship and now we have been together for just over 2.5 years. We were planning to be engaged over the holidays but he was recently laid off so that has put the brakes on things for a while. We are very open about our feelings for one another and I know we will get married once finances are more secure. Just make sure you’re living together because you WANT to live with him, not because you just feel like you should. Its always a little rough getting used to someone else’s habits but if you really want it, you get through it, find a compromise and its all good from there.

Post # 5
3471 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2012 - The Gables Inn, Santa Rosa, CA

Well, I don’t know how relevant it will be to you, but my husband and I cohabitated before marriage and we’re still going strong. 

We met when I was 18, he was 21, I moved in with him after about 7-8 months becuase my lease was up and I was spending every night there anyway.  After a year, we moved together to go away to 4-yr college and lived together all through college.  

We discussed that while I was fine cohabitating in college, I wasn’t interested in doing it for long after graduation unless I knew it was headed somewhere.  He proposed to me after 3 years together (1 semester before we graduated).  After graduation we moved again and rented a house for 7 months, in that time we saved every penny we had and built up a savings.  

At 6 months we realized that we could either have the wedding or buy a house and both agreed that it made more financial sense to buy the house while the market was down, so we did.  Then, a year after buying the house together, we got married.  That was in 2012.  We’re now TTC #1.

It’s hard to want to take that next step when your last relationship failed, but at the same time, it’s not fair to push your current spouse to move faster or stall in taking that next step because of past failures. Don’t view it as “serial cohabitation” think about it as two people who made mistakes in the past but want to build a future together, and learn from your past mistakes (as you already have) and don’t let it be an open ended thing.  As you said, he already knows you have no interest in living together indefinitely, if he’s asking you to move in, that means he’s ready to take things tot he next level. 


Post # 6
349 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2015 - country club in Michigan

I think one turn-off I have with cohabitation is it is REALLY hard to break up if you come to that point. I lived with an ex for 3 years. About 2.5 years in I decided I wanted to end the relationship. But since we had moved in, he went from a successful person with a job and working on his PhD dissertation to being broke, jobless, and barely working on his dissertation. This was partly because he had a safety net in me—rent would get paid even if he didn’t contribute his fair share. So when I tried to end things, he had a “YOU ARE RUINING MY LIFE” freak out because he was not able to afford rent. Finally, he moved to an apt by his school 6 MISERABLE months later once his school offered him enough money to pay rent. We broke up a month after that. Honestly, I wasted 6-7 months of my life with him because I didn’t have the heart to make him homeless. And we spoke all about marriage. It was almost assumed it would happen until I realized he was not the right one for me.

Fiance and I decided to move in once we got engaged since he also had issues with past cohabitation. That was the deal from the start. So we rented a place together, and the day we moved in he proposed. I much prefer this approach because I knew from the day we moved it was FOREVER, it a much more real way then dating is.

<br />Oh, and ex—he’s actually a successful, well employed person with a PhD now. He just needed a kick in the ass to get there.

Post # 9
665 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

Ms.PatientBee:  It’s funny that you say that cultures where long term cohabitation is normal aren’t what you’re looking for as my impression, based off of this site (as a non-American) is that people seem to move in together really quickly. No judgement intended, I’m just surprised whenever there are posts about moving in together because it often seems like a lot of the couples here, who appear to be primarily American, move in together after just a few months, although I guess that also relates to how long you date in general. Outside of the couples who are waiting until marriage to sleep together, it seems like almost everyone cohabitates pretty quickly beforehand. I do come from a country where cohabitation is not common unless a couple have no intention of getting married or they already have kids so it’s a phenomenon that I’m not used to.

But anyway, as for your case, I think it’s very important to take intent into consideration once you decide to move in together as like a PP pointed out, living together makes it SO much harder to break up if need be. And it also results in situations where people get comfortable and the relationship stops progressing even if one person wants to get married as evidenced by a lot of the waiting people who post on here. I think that either waiting until you’re engaged to move in together is a good idea, as long as you’re willing to have a long engagement, or making it SUPER, SUPER clear that you have a very specific amount of time (a year) which you’re willing to cohabitate without an engagement. Although even that is no guarantee, of course.

Post # 10
1444 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

Ms.PatientBee:  One thing to consider is that the statistic that couples who cohabitate before marriage are more likely to divorce correlates with the statistic that people who choose not to cohabitate before marriage are more likely to have values that don’t allow for divorce. Correlation and causation are not the same thing.

You can’t live your life based on statistics, but you can use them as a basis to educate yourself, which I think is what you’re trying to do here. For example, couples who marry under the age of 25 are more likely to get divorced, but there’s so much about life that is different for people who are under 25, like more likely to have issues with money, which is known to be a major marital problem.

ETA: This article is 20 years old, but I think it has some interesting information.


Post # 11
723 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2011

Ms.PatientBee: Neither of you are serial cohabitators. You’ve lived with one other serious SO. Living together is a very natural step before marriage. I don’t see the problem? 

Also, consider the alternative–would it have been better for each of you to marry and then divorce your exes? Isn’t it better that you lived together & found out that you weren’t meant for each other, than to jump into marriage without that knowledge and get a divorce or remain in an unhappy marriage together?

Post # 12
558 posts
Busy bee

I think there is a huge social stigma attached to cohabitation, and it somewhat clouds our ability to assess the other pros and cons of it. I, too, have been cautious and feel reluctant about it, and totally understand where you are coming from. I think you are absolutely right about intentionality, and I think another bee was wise to point out that it creates a situation that can be hard to escape without hurting both people. Beyond that, however, I don’t think there is anything negative about cohabiting more than once. I read so, so much information about the pros and cons of cohabitation before I chose to, and the consistent finding seemed to be that couples who enter cohabitation intentionally with an end goal of commitment have much better outcomes than those who either “slide into” it or choose it primarily for practical reasons.

Post # 13
697 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2016 - Akron, OH

I’ve lived with two guys before my current guy. I wasn’t serious about any of them except for the one I’m with now. I think I only lived with the other fellas b/c it was better than living at home in an abusive environment. After the last ex and I broke up I was able to live alone for a couple years before meeting my SO (who ended up being my neighbor) and now we live together. I also thought that moving in together this time would make an engagement happen faster, it didn’t. Here we are 2 years later and still no ring, but soon I hope! 

Post # 14
5891 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2010

Darling Husband was a serial co-habitator. Three of his 5 earlier relationships he lived with them (and it would have been 4 out of 5, but they both were livinv in dorms, so not feesible). In fact one of the relationships led to marriage due to what some call ‘sliding, not deciding’.

Marriage researchers are now realizing that the 60% divorce rate in couples that co-habitate before engagement or marriage (instead of 50% in engaged/married cohabitors) may be due to “sliding”. Meaning it’s easier to get married than to break up, so they get married to people that if they hadn’t been living together, they might have broken up with. 

That is what happened to DH’s first marriage. They had been together for over 6 years, they were in their mid30’s,there was nothing wrong with the relationship, so they slid into marriage. Within a year Darling Husband knew he had made a mistake and got a divorce.

For us, I always said I would not move in together if I wasnt engaged. And that is what we did.

In your case, you need to make sure you aren’t sliding into this because it’s cheaper or more convenient. You both have to DECIDE to move in together and  your timeline for engagement and a plan for if things don’t work out (like only put the lease in one name and they stay and take on a roommate). 

Post # 15
510 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2016

It took me and my then bf (now FI) less than 3 months from when we started dating to move in together, we hadent lived with anyone else alone before, we have lived together 3 years now. I think it’s really important to live together before marriage, you really get very close to your partner and figure out what the rest of your life may look like.

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