Normally, it takes nine months to make a baby, and once that baby goes off to school it will take that child nine months to complete a grade level all the way through college. So as adults, I suggest you continue with this nine month marker before making any major commitment in a relationship, i.e. an engagement or shaking up together. Why? Because in the beginning of a relationship everyone is on their best behavior, and very few are open about their buried issues. You are both enjoying the high of the honeymoon phase (which may even last up to two years), but to really know someone it takes time.
Only over the course of several months do you get to meet each other’s family and friends, learn to resolve conflict, build trust and gain understanding of one another. To get to the point where you are fully committed, and can see yourself being with someone for the rest of your life, you need to experience both momentous occassions and every day occurences. As one of my friends jokingly says, until you’ve been together a full year– how do you know that on Halloween that guy doesn’t turn into a werewolf and howl at the moon? Another one likes to say that until you’ve had a knock-down drag out fight, you truly don’t know each other.
Of course, once you have gathered all your information, there does come a point in every relationship where you need to decide where you are heading. No one likes to live out of a suitcase, and commuting in traffic does get quite taxing, but these alone are insufficient reasons to move in with someone, although they can be factors that drive a conversation about the status of the relationship. Remembering that no one likes to feel pressured to make a decision is key– also it is important to note that depending on the baggage someone brings to the situation, it may be necessary to wait longer before delving into a deep discussion about the future.
Ultimately, it takes two willing participants to decide they want to move to the next level, and if one lacks that motivation the other either needs to be patient or consider moving on. Things definitely seem to move faster as people get older– but try not to rush things. Buying a house, moving in together, merging finances, etc. are all incredibly stressful things, and you have to build the right foundation before you can merge your lives. Nine months will fly by before you know it–it has for me several times, without ever getting to the next level.
Even after a year, don’t expect that it will all going to be smooth sailing. One of my favorite quotes is that “smooth sailing does not make skilled sailors.” As a result of the rough patches you hit along the way, I think you truly get to know the good, the bad, and the ugly, and going forward with your eyes wide open makes it that much easier when the moment comes to take a leap of faith.