How To Keep A Girl For Ten Years: To Shack Up or Not To Shack Up?

Thinking about committed long-term relationships prior to being in one tends to dredge up the sort of irrational fear that eclipses even the most pedigreed problem solvers.

I heard Da Vinci was totally weirded out by it.


Entering into the world of monogamy and dare I say, cohabitation is a terrifying new frontier and it’s arguably much safer to stay put in the safe confines of twin beds and roomies. That way you can remain a shiftless Lothario forever, eating Ramen noodles straight no chaser and falling asleep with your jeans on. Staying single forever means never having to say you’re sorry but it also means picking up countless cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon from the living room and an occasional to semi-frequent loneliness that stings like stubbing your toe on frost-bite.

What’s so great about shacking up though?

Well class-holes, we have a lot of complicated chemicals moving us around the earth like Bernie Lomax, I imagine them to smell like a perm and look like the Starbucks lady procreated with Mombi. Basically, you have very little control over your impulses and trying to contain them only makes them stronger.


We are all here (well, most of us) to leave our insides apprehensively on someone’s doorstep to either step on or invite in for soup.


Natalie and I have managed to successfully co-exist for almost ten years and though it hasn’t always been easy, it feels so relatively effortless that I wonder if we have a special talent for relationships like those six year old prodigies who can work a piano like Liberace without even trying. We broke just about every single rule: moved in together very soon, got each other’s name tattooed early on in several, highly visible spots and we didn’t really think about it or talk about it, we just did it. Unfortunately, we are in the .001% of folks for whom this ends well, and have probably used up one of the few Get Out of Jail Free cards in existence for these sorts of things, so do as I say not as I do.

I did a lot of worrying before I met Natalie; I had a lot of uncomfortable, unanswered questions about dating and eventually living with someone I loved. It sounded like the scariest thing ever; being the most uncensored version of myself around someone who I wanted to put my most edited, photo-shopped and filtered face on for.

Would it be weird to go to bed fully clothed and in make-up? Probably. Will my jaw develop super-human strength able to bite through titanium from a steady rotation of Tic Tacs and Trident chewing 24 hours a day?

I worried how I would go to the bathroom and maintain my flawless Gynoid facade? What if we only have one bathroom and I have to go and I don’t mean pee. She will forever associate me with the smell of human waste, she will look at me and only see the shadow of defecation frolicking about our apartment with reckless abandon. I seriously worried a lot about this and figured I would probably have an impacted bowel shortly after moving in with Natalie. Turned out, Natalie had irritable bowel syndrome (sorry Natalie)! We were able to talk freely and candidly about our urges with a Fight Club-esque set of conditions that neither of us wanted to be the couple that hung around each other during this inevitable function of being. It was a private moment for us, meant to be done alone with plenty of time to run the bathroom fan and forever ruin whatever cologne we wanted to spray all over before re-entrance.

The reality is that these sorts of things barely matter. What matters before you move in together is that you’re ready because if you aren’t, you may not experience the symbiotic bliss that Natalie and I do, then maybe you will get an impacted bowel because you don’t feel close enough to talk about uncomfortable shit (literally).

I don't know, I mean THIS guy.

I don’t know, I mean THIS guy.

BUT, how do you know you’re ready?

If you cannot retrieve her iTunes password via security question, don’t move in together. I can’t tell you how to live your lives or if you’re completely ready just because you can hack her iTunes, but I bet this eliminates a good many considering the big move. That’s right, you should know the city she was born in or her first pet’s name with no exceptions!


No exceptions!

Now, don’t go packing up your Doc Martens and food processors just because you pass this single lesbian litmus. Think of it as the first qualifier of many. Now you’re ready to move on to earn the Pendants of Life in The Temple Games Round — Legends of the Hidden Temple, anyone?

In The Temple Games Round (technically it goes, The Moat then Steps of Knowledge then The Temple Games Round, but let’s just shut up about it already) — you want to make sure you are not ensnared in the persuasive clutches of honeymoon bliss. The time period for this varies from couple to couple, but generally speaking if you think your partner can do no wrong, you are living in a world of fantasy and denial that does not compliment the cold, harsh reality you are about to face. She is not the perfect flower you think she is, unless that flower awakens with the breath of a hungry feral cat and nags you about dusting the blinds.

The final round is The Temple Run! Have you spent an extended amount of time with this person? Take a long vacation together, have barrels of sleepover parties complete with many talks about your expectations, board games and what each of you absolutely cannot compromise on. How does she feel about the length of time a dirty dish can exist in limbo between sink and dishwasher? How do you feel? Be totally honest because not being honest will only result in failure or dissatisfaction down the line. Climb down off that Veranda, Romeo, we know your bounty is as boundless as the sea and everything but remember — wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.

Above all, don’t let her or anyone else make the decision for you. If you have to be talked into it by her, her friends, a songbird, Morris Buttermaker or whomever then you need to trust your instincts and hold those horses.

It’s so majestic though.

Move in because you have both deliberated seriously and decided like grown adults.




There we go.

Contribute to the conversation, what do you think the most important aspects are to consider before shacking up?

What makes a relationship last? I’ve been with my GFF (girlfriend forever), Natalie, for 10 years as of April 24th 2014, and we are often asked how we got here. In How to Keep a Girl for 10 Years, I will attempt to breakdown the ideological construct of my healthy relationship with the hope that through my experiences, you can build your bridge with fewer casualties!

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

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Robyn resides in Raleigh, North Carolina by way of sunny Syracuse, NY. She loves her girl, her self, her two canine heartthrobs & witbier Sundays. Oh, and her family — hi, family!

RobynC has written 6 articles for us.


  1. Oooh what a coincidence! We were actually thinking about moving in (i know i already refer to her as my wife a lot here but we’re in LDR) this year..anyway!! Thanks for the great insight, as always Robyn. I really enjoy these installments. I agree with the iTunes thing, I mean it’ll be useless to move in without being able to retrieve! What’s gonna happen with your life? LOL.

    I’d like to add that you should also have a talk about it. I mean to make sure you’re both on the same page. My mom always said you really don’t the person til you live with them. Having a vacation together and dozens of sleepovers help to let you see how they are in public and private.

    I remember the thing about the bathroom. When my wife first slept over and in the morning I had to go I remember going ‘oh no, this is the end!’ We laughed about it later on. It’s really something to see how comfortable you are with each other and sometimes that’ll make you realize ‘you know, this could really work.’

  2. Another Decenarian here! I think the biggest thing my SIGOTH and I have done over the intervening years to keep our relationship strong has been to keep having conversations. They started off pretty badly because we’d wait to share our feelings about something and be at our maxed out point by the time we got to them, but we always professed to each other that we felt better after the fact.

    I think it helped having regular old roomies, as well. You get the idea for how scungy someone else can be without also placying all of your eggs in one basket… so by the time you move in with someone you’ve got all the love for, you can talk about mundane shit like chores and sleeping-time (night-owl living with an early bird means sometimes there are compromises) and cooking, all that stuff. Really, there’s also the question of funds and money, expectations surrounding that, but that’s usually for later down the line. We started off in all aspects spouting the idea that we didn’t want to be co-dependent. We let down our defenses on that one a little at a time, which worked well for us!

  3. “…she will look at me and only see the shadow of defecation frolicking about our apartment with reckless abandon.”

    This may be one of the finest collections of words to ever appear on Autostraddle.

    • I skipped that part because I was just like WHAT THE FUCK AM I READING??? Haha great article otherwise.

  4. My girl and I moved in together pretty early (7 months) and now it’s 15 months, still together, and with a cat. Fingers crossed that it’s keeps being this good!

  5. I just explained this article to my girlfriend, and said that we are probably ready to move in together based on it.
    All she said in response was “Wickedey Wack!”, and now I’m not sure I want to anymore.

  6. OMG that cat shouting to use the microfiber cloth is me. My poor former/current partners. No but on a serious note my girlfriend and I are thinking about moving in together and I was excited to see this. I am not sure I can answer her iTunes security questions but I definitely know the one email and password she uses for all of her accounts so I guess we’re doing okay…

  7. You could also talk about whether you would like to live together. It is an optional part of a relationship. I don’t think that living together means a relationship is better or worse than another relationship. There are pros and cons to everything. So, yeah, talk about if you would like to live together or apart, now or later, co-mingling finances or not, etc. You guys can be whatever you want to be, however you want to be. There is no normal.

  8. First off, BAHAHAHA at the pictures associated with this article. This craft is a separate art from writing & you’ve NAILED it. I’d also like to add that this Legends of the Hidden Temple reference has rebirthed an entire era of my childhood that I had forgotten. That’s important.

    Finally in reference to the article itself, make sure you and your lady are compatible on a cleanliness level. This is where we compromise constantly. She doesn’t judge me when I can’t relax until all of the books on the coffee table are straightened and I don’t freak out when she spends 3 hours shaving her head in the tiny bathroom if she cleans up ALL of the hair remnants.

  9. Uhhhh…yeah, we totally UHauled and totally skipped the Big Question. I lived on campus, she didn’t, within a few weeks she found it convenient to go to school and work by sleeping at my place (which was a tiny studio unit). Two months later, I convinced her she didn’t need to go back to her place to shower and do laundry. Year and a half later, we have our own legitimate apartment with too many rooms and too much space.

    And she is pretty much perfect, thank you very much. I’m the microfibre cat though.

  10. I’m really glad my partner and I started off in a LDR. We both had to finish university degrees in our respective countries, or we probably would have moved in on the 2nd date.

    Two and a half years later, when we were ready to relocate, we made the leap together.

    Yah, you have to be okay stinking up a bathroom or having her see your red post-wax upper lip before moving in with a person.

  11. My girlfriend and I are taking that big step in a few months… Overseas… So it’s make it or break it! xD we’re really excited though!

  12. “occasional to semi-frequent loneliness that stings like stubbing your toe on frost-bite.”

    Speak for your damn self. I am seeing someone while still living in my own place and I love it. We have no intentions of moving in together, and I do not get semi-frequent or even infrequent loneliness (like I have some kind of anxiety inducing inner-grandmother asking me when I’m going to get settle down and make the babies).


    • “Staying single forever means never having to say you’re sorry but it also means picking up countless cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon from the living room and an occasional to semi-frequent loneliness that stings like stubbing your toe on frost-bite.”

      First, that was taken a bit out of context since I was referring to being single, not being together and living separately. This series is for people in relationships or people who want to be in relationships and make them last. Wanting to “settle down” with someone you love or move in with someone doesn’t make you a grandmother (or inner-grandmother) and it doesn’t make you a weak or pathetic woman. Your righteousness is not going to change the deliberation and desire many couples face and it’s important (to me) that they don’t make that decision hastily.

      Alternatively, preferring to be single forever is fine, too. My father repeatedly cheated on my mother and after they divorced, she was done with relationships forever. I respect her choice to do that tremendously, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t get lonely sometimes, in fact I know she does. There are trade offs to staying single versus being in a relationship (living together or not) and that was exactly my point. Pretending one or the other is totally without drawbacks is naive.

      Second, this entire article is about avoiding unnecessary “u-hauls” and making the best decision possible for you and your relationship. Your “all-caps” send off about existing outside the context of another person is off the mark and not the point of this article whatsoever, it also doesn’t offer anyone genuinely seeking guidance any useful advice. I know I can exist outside “the context” of my girlfriend and we do everyday, living with her doesn’t negate that fact. That fact makes living with her work very well, actually.

      There are plenty in this world who have no desire to move in with another, be in a relationship, etc. and this series isn’t for them but specifically for those who have decided they would like to keep a relationship for ten years and beyond. There’s very little out there helping queers navigate some of the unique hardships they may face in their relationships and this is what my articles are about and this is who they are for. Not for you, quite obviously you are stringent in your opinions and values.

      I will continue speaking “for my damn self” and for anyone looking for relatable advice from a familiar voice in a sea of Cosmopolitan quizzes and hetero normative lip service.

      Thanks for reading.

  13. Definitely depends on what kind of person you are! It worked for me and my girlfriend extremely early and we feel fine. We’ve known each other since we were 11 years old, went to the same very small, all-girls high school and were good-ish friends for about two or three years until we started hanging out romantically the summer after we graduated. We hung out for two months, usually only between the times of 10pm – 8am and usually only in my bed or out in my suburb on our bikes. So with our long history of knowing each other, and essentially growing up together, and then getting to know each other at 4am in my bed, I had already told her that I loved her before we started officially dating. Two months later, we were moved in (due to family problems on my part) and we’re doing absolutely brilliantly. It’s been four months so far and while a lot of people may think that we rushed it or it was too soon, we know that it was right for us. Time is merely a man-made concept. I believe you’ll know when you’re ready :)

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