So you’re thinking of shacking up? But, wait! Maybe you should take a minute and think this through. Moving in might seem like a very romantic thing to do. Besides, what could be a better Valentine’s Day gift than to merge your lives together? But more often than not, the reality is far too different from your expectations. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine. So, here are 14 questions to ask before moving in together. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry…

Are you moving in for the right reasons?

Moving in together is a big step forward in any relationship. So you need to ask yourself, why are you moving in together? Are you moving because you think this is what you’re supposed to do since you’ve been dating for so long? Or are you feeling pressurized by your SO? Is moving in an alternative to marriage? Are you going through a rough patch, and you think moving in might help? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you need to stop right now. You shouldn’t move in with your boyfriend or girlfriend because you feel pressurized to. And moving in together won’t solve any relationship problem either.

If you are moving in together for any other reason except ‘taking your relationship to the next level,’ you need to reconsider your decision.

Have you been dating long enough?

Many good relationships have failed because the people involved moved too fast. Living together is a huge commitment, one not to be made while you’re still in the starry-eyed honeymoon phase. The sad fact is that more than half of the couples who live together break up within the first few years. So, before you take the plunge, consider how long you’ve been dating. Do you know this person well enough to be living with them? There is no harm in waiting if you don’t think you’re ready yet.

Have you had “the talk”?

You really can’t take any big step in a relationship without having the dreaded “talk”. You know the one about- what each of you expects, where this is heading et cetera. As uncomfortable as this talk is, it is very important that you have it. You both need to be on the same page about where you’re headed. If, for instance, one of you thinks you’re moving forward in your relationship and another thinks of it as a sweet way to save rent, you’re going to have a lot of problems ahead.

Can you communicate openly and honestly?

Living together can often be intense, especially in the first few months when you’re both adjusting to the change. You’ll fight a lot over trivial things. One of you is too messy. The other invites guests without notice. All these little things when put together can create a lot of strain in your relationship. To navigate these new waters without overturning your relationship boat, you’ll need to be open and honest with each other, and be willing to see things from both the perspectives.

Are you ready to compromise?

Living together will require a lot of compromise from both sides. No longer can you leave your dirty underwear lying around. Or return home at 2 in the morning without explanation. You’ll both need to give up a few things and give in to a few of your spouses’ demands. You will need to work together for an arrangement that works for both of you, for which you have to be willing to compromise.

Have you survived a big fight?

Your first big fight is a make-or-break moment in your relationship. You either break up or you work through your differences and come out stronger than ever. If you’ve had at least one big fight and your relationship has survived, you’ll be more prepared to work through the many little issues that pop up when you live together.

What are your deal breakers?

Every little annoying habit of your spouse will be magnified when you start living together, mostly because you’ll be around them all the time. So you’ll need to decide which pet peeves you can live with and which need to go. If you can work together and iron out your differences, you are one step closer to being ready.

Do you realize that your partner sweats, poops, and farts?

One of the harsh realities of moving in together is that your partner won’t always be at their best when you see them. You’ll see them when they return sweaty and gross after their morning run. You’ll see them get sick and throw up and be expected to take care of them. They might even fart right in the middle of a NetFlix marathon. You’ll see every grossly human thing they do every day and vice versa. If you think you can handle all that without letting it dim your attraction, then Congratulations!! You’re ready to move in together.

Have you discussed your expectations as roommates?

Once you move in together, you’re no longer just boyfriend and girlfriend. You’re also roommates. And as with any other roommate, you’ll need to set the rules and divide the chores between yourselves. Who cooks? Who cleans up? Can you invite guests over? Discuss all these things beforehand and you’ll have less friction once you’re living together.

How do you plan to keep the romance alive?

Many couples start to take each other for granted when they start living together. No more date nights. No surprise gifts. No nothing. But to keep your relationship strong, you need to keep the romance alive. Discuss how you plan to do so with your partner. Go out for a night in town every week. Have a mini-vacation every few months. Just have a plan ready so that the romance doesn’t fizzle out of your relationship.

Where will you live?

You have three options: You can move in with them. They can move in with you. Or you can both find a new place to live together. Out of the three options, most relationship experts recommend the third option. But you must be the one to decide which works best for you. In any case, you need to consider both your needs before choosing a place to live. Work together as a team and you’ll figure out the details.

How will you divide your expenses?

One of the top three things couples fight about is money ( the other two being sex and housework). So, set the ground rules before moving in together. Who pays for what? Will you have a joint account? How much will each of you contribute towards the expenses? Decide all these things beforehand so that there will be less to fight about in the future.

What happens when you break up?

Talking about breaking up might be a buzzkill, but it’s important that you do so. Have a clear (preferably written) agreement about who gets what if you ever break up. You’ll avoid a large portion of the break-up drama and protect your assets at the same time.

Is this what you really want?

At the end of the day, this is what it really comes down to. Is this what you really want? Do you want to see your spouse every single day? Even when they are not at their best? Do you want to wake up beside them every morning and kiss them goodnight every evening? Can you handle seeing their dirty socks all over the floor and knowing their bathroom habits? Or watching them wind down after a long day in an old ratty T-shirt? If the answer is yes then you, my friend, can start packing.