The day after Jessica Goss graduated from GW, she hopped on a plane to California and moved in with her boyfriend of nearly two years.
“I’d been planning it for a while, but was still a little nervous,” she says of her feelings before the move. “I was just hoping we wouldn’t drive each other nuts.”
Goss, who graduated in May of 2003, has been dating John Accamando since the summer before her junior year. Accamando, seven years older than Goss, picked out the pair’s home in Redondo Beach before Goss moved to the west coast.
“On my vacations from school we looked at different places together and I helped pick out the area where we would live, but he picked the actual home,” she says.
The two approach the financial aspects of living together with a creative solution. Since Accamando makes twice as much money as Goss, he pays two-thirds of household expenses and she pays the remaining third.
“He drives me crazy sometimes because I really like to plan and set a schedule for everything, but he just does things whenever,” she says. “I tried setting a schedule for bill paying but it didn’t work.”
However, after five months she says she is happy with the decision to move in with her boyfriend.
“There is nothing better than having my best friend there all the time,” she says. “And since we have full lives of our own, we don’t get on each other’s nerves.”
But as well as the arrangement has worked for Goss and Accamando, unrealistic expectations can be a problem for some young couples who decide to live together.
“It’s not so much the ‘moral factor,’ I just think that it makes seeing each other less special,” junior Mandeep Grewal says. “I feel like you might even be more likely to break up over dumb things if you don’t have the actual legal and emotional commitment of marriage.”
“I have friends who think it’s the best way to solve problems in their relationship,” junior Sara Vargas says.
“I understand why it makes sense, especially if you’re sleeping over each other’s place all the time or just for financial reasons, but I don’t think I ever would do it,” she adds. “I know for a fact that my mother wouldn’t allow it and I would respect that.”
But junior Matthew Wolfson says his girlfriend’s mother suggested the pair live together.
Wolfson, a student in the business school, moved in with his girlfriend Rachel Eisler, a senior at American University, in May. He says that the best part of living together is that although they lead separate lives, they spend their nights together in their Dupont Circle home.
He explains that his mother was worried that their social lives would be stifled if they moved in together, but Wolfson says that the exact opposite occurred.
“Before I was always trying to spend as much time with her so I was never with my friends,” he says, noting that he often traveled to American to be with his girlfriend before the pair started living together. “Now we don’t feel obligated to spend all our time together because we always know we’ll be together when we get home.”
Goss encountered a little more resistance when she shared her decision with family and friends.
“My mom had a hard time with it,” she says. “She was raised very conservatively in Mexico City and wasn’t even permitted to move out of her house until she was married. It took her a while to get used to the idea.”
Goss says her mother finally got used to the idea.
“She adores him and is comfortable with it now, but I think she gets comments from family members and some of her older friends,” Goss says.
Several students say they would not be ready to live with a significant other unless the decision was well thought-out.
“You aren’t playing house; it’s real life and it can either bring you very close or tear you apart,” junior Jeff Stern says. “You need to be willing to take that risk.”
Junior Dan Chassen says he has been dating junior Stacy Mitchell for seven months and he thinks about moving in with her sometimes.
“Of course I do,” he says. “In fact we’ve talked about it, but not very seriously yet. I’m not there yet, but if you have an eye for the future like me, it’s naturally something you would consider.”
He says that living together is a smart step for many couples.
“I think it’s a very good idea. We live in a time when people divorce every three seconds. It’s a way of saying, ‘Hey, maybe we should see if this works for a while before making that commitment.'”
Chassen says that young couples thinking about marriage may learn how to survive a relationship by living together.
But Chassen says his mother wouldn’t approve of his moving in with Mitchell.
“I think (my parents) might shoot me,” he jokes. “But seriously, I know they wouldn’t forbid it, but they also wouldn’t fund it. They’ll probably allow it if they think that marriage will definitely be the next step.”
Wolfson concedes that his situation isn’t typical of most students his age.
“We’ve been dating for three years and it’s an established relationship that we know will continue,” he says. “We’re not going to break up over stupid things,” adding that the two rarely disagree.
He says that having two television sets keeps them from disagreeing over what programs to watch and that when it comes to music the situation is simple.
“Well, she has bad taste in music and I don’t,” he jokes.
Goss says she’s learned a lot about being a couple since she and Accamando moved in together.
“It’s so weird, the grossest things you do on your own, suddenly you’re perfectly OK doing them when he is in the room,” Goss says. It’s so great reaching that level of familiarity with the person that you love.”
She says the couple’s main goal is to enjoy their new living arrangement.
“We talk about our long-term plans all the time,” she says. “But really, right now we just want to relax and enjoy getting used to being together constantly.”