Thursday, November 10, 2011

How Soon is Too Soon?

Another quick retread of an article from the dating website I work for addressing the complex lesbian issue of U-Hauling! Original post here on 8-17-2011

From a really charming greeting card company with LGBT options
A recent letter I answered on the Q and A section of my web column addressed in very limited detail how soon is too soon to move in together. This actually matched up with a conversation I had with a friend recently about her and her girlfriend’s desire to start having babies. Something she said kind of stuck out to me: they’d been together for six years and it was about time they started having kids. Wait, what? Six years is the alarm clock for children? Do we start sperm donor shopping at about five years and six months? What happens if a couple makes it to seven years without procreating? Are one or both ladies labeled an old maid? It all seemed a little arbitrary to me.

In the aforementioned letter, the submitter said she’d moved in with her girlfriend because it was more convenient to see each other that way. I may have been a little outraged in my response, but I think my outrage was warranted. Of all the reasons to move in together, I think convenience is even sillier than your relationship meeting some arbitrary time stamp set up by the particular Sapphistocracy in your area (I made that word up—please use it until it catches on). I’ve started to wonder how many of these relationship norms and benchmarks my own relationship violates. We’ve been together going on three years, have been living together for about two of those, and we’re light-years from even deciding which one of us would get pregnant, let alone looking for genetically favorable strong swimmers from a willing donor. This all begs the question: how soon is too soon?

There is of course the silly joke about U-Hauling (there’s even a word for it) where any relationship that doesn’t result in moving in together within the first few dates is viewed as a failure. Let’s move past that though and take a realistic look at some real reasons for and against moving in and how soon is really too soon.

First and foremost, let me reiterate the advice given in the Q and A section a few weeks ago for those of you who may have missed it. Moving in for convenience, to save on gas or commute time, for the insurance benefits, a shared wardrobe that doubles your options (I am so freaking jealous of you ladies with girlfriends the same size as you who get to do this), or any other reason that really boils down to ‘it makes things easier’ is all a bad idea. We have enough trouble with bed death and girlfriends becoming roommates without actually using reasons tailored to having a roommate thrown in the mix. You move in with your girlfriend when you want to move your relationship to the next level and you’re both ready for the lifestyle change. You do not move in together to save on rent and split the cost of milk.

Addressing the concept of time stamps is a little more difficult, because these are the demands brought on by peer pressure, both external and internal. You look around at your circle of friends and you see Katie and her new girlfriend Beth are moving in together and they’ve only been together six months, but you and your girlfriend have been together for eight months and you’re not sure you’re ready yet, but they’re both going on and on and on about how great it is, so you…? Let’s just stop right there, and let’s not even touch how much pressure you’d feel if you and your girlfriend had been together for a year or more and still hadn’t moved in together. Seeing the pace others are running around us can encourage us to try to run at a pace we’re not built for, not ready for, and will exhaust us long before it does them; I don’t actually run, but my girlfriend does and she said this metaphor works. The point being, your relationship is different than your friends’ relationships, but, more than that (and this is where most people get tripped up) your relationship with your current girlfriend is different than any other relationship you’ve likely had. You can’t move in with Sara at six months just because you moved in with Jennifer at five…remember how that turned out? (I totally hope I freaked someone out by using the name of their current and ex-girlfriends in that hypothetical example. If I did, send me an email telling me to get out of your head).

“How soon is too soon?” is a question only you and your current girlfriend can answer. It can’t be based off the people around you or their opinions on how long is long enough. Lesbians are entirely too reliant on the advice of their friends when it comes to making life choices and that advice usually comes from a place just as confused and lost as the one you’re currently in. If someone is saying X number of months or years is the right time to do something in a relationship, take a step back and realize your relationship isn’t on a timeline. To use a sports analogy, since I’m dating a stem and I’m a total daddy’s girl I know all of these cool parallels between dating and sports: your relationship is like softball or baseball—there’s no time limit on things, just benchmarks to be met; your relationship is not like a soccer match where the time can run out on something and there’s very little scoring going on (hopefully that’s true on the second part).

Move in together when you’re ready to take that next step. Understand that your relationship is unique even within all the relationships you’ve already had. And never move in for simple convenience. Together we can make that U-Haul joke go away by making good relationship choices and increasing our chances for longer-lasting unions.

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