People tell you that before a relationship gets really serious, you should have some serious conversations. Do you both want kids? Do you have debt? Are you willing to move for each others' careers? This seems like pretty solid advice, but I have one more question to toss into the mix. How important is it to talk to a significant other about what kind of dreams you have in mind for your home?
Home is a pretty big part of our lives, and while small issues like paint colors and carpeting should probably never ruin a relationship, there are other home-related questions that might have enough power to do so. Here are some potential deal-breakers:
Do you want to live in the suburbs, the city, or the country?
If you've always dreamed of pulling a Thoreau and moving to the middle of the woods, growing vegetables, and writing poetry, those fantasies probably won't be compatible with the dreams of a person who like to walk to cafés, see movies, and socialize frequently.
Do you want to rent forever or eventually own a home?
This question could open up a number of other conversations about finances, savings goals, willingness to perform home maintenance, and a desire to stay rooted in one place.
Do you want a fixer-upper or a house that's ready-to-go?
Do you want your life lived in service of your home, or a home that is in service of your life? Or somewhere in between? Or both? Some people really love spending their spare time with hammers, nails, and paint, but others have no desire to invest their time this way. If there's a major discrepancy between partners, could this be a source of long-term tension?
Do you want to live large or have a tiny house?
This can trigger all kinds of questions about priorities: environmental commitments, the number of kids you want, budgeting, location, convenience, independence, etc. It's about so much more than just square footage.
Many of the answers to these questions point to other potential types of incompatibility. For example, if a city-dweller is together with a cabin-dreamer, it could point to differences in entertainment interests or social behavior (introversion/extroversion).
When it comes to a home, obviously these preferences can shift. The life that 18-year-old me envisioned doesn't resemble my current home-owning lifestyle. But when you're getting serious with someone, do you think it's necessary to be on the same page about home stuff, or to at least talk about being flexible?