Thursday, March 8, 2012

The "You're moving in?? Congrats!!" Curiosity

R and I are moving in together at the end of the month.

This is (shockingly) not a post about all the details (and decorating...) involved in that development (yet). It's a post about the very curious reaction I've gotten from people upon sharing the good news.

In almost every circumstance, from almost every person, it's been some form of "CONGRATS!!"
  • Via g-chat from my cousin: "WOW! CONGRATS!!"
  • Via e-mail from one of my best friends: "Such great news, congrats!!"
  • In person (with a kiss) from R's parents who are in town: "Mazel tov!"
Prior to all this unsolicited expression of commendation (of course I looked up the definition of "congratulations"), I didn't think of moving in with my boyfriend as an accomplishment to be commended. A good for you!, yes. A that's exciting!, definitely. But all the congrats imply I've done something impressive or difficult, that moving in is some kind of a feat.

"It is!!" said Carly when we chatted about this whole thing earlier. She would know. Carly has lived with her now husband for a number of years I can't even remember, but her perspective comes from the "been there, done that" place. She should be congratulated; she's done it...successfully.

My current congrats are technically more of the, "way to go! you got a guy to want to live with you!" variety. They're congrats on not breaking up, or congrats on being mature enough to take a big step in your relationship, or congrats on arriving at a point in that relationship where you believe you can compromise on where the shoes should live. Are they accomplishments by the simple definition of the word, yes, but at no point in the beginning of the relationship did people say, "nice guy, good luck not breaking up." It's like these congrats upon moving in imply that the whole world didn't think it was particularly likely. That the odds of arriving at "move in" are so low, they deserve recognition. Oh, you did it? Wow, what's the chance! Congrats!

I guess it's also curious because no one said congrats when I announced I was moving into a 200 square foot apartment in Manhattan with a rando off Craigslist. They said, "wow," or, "cool...," or, "you're paying that for that?!" Somehow the world didn't view my ability to live on my own, navigate the Manhattan real estate market, or finagle a way to pay 1K a month on a 28K salary as worthy of commendation. Trust me, it was a lot harder than settling into a lovely one bedroom with a giant back patio on the cusp of Beverly Hills will be.

I know it's not an uncommon reaction to this common life milestone. I, myself, have probably offered congratulations to a friend in a similar situation. But when you, yourself, are sharing the news, the congrats feels somewhat strange or unjustified.

"That's great, though!" a colleague said, "It means you don't feel like it was difficult at all to get to this point.

Maybe that's it. Maybe all these congrats make me feel like moving in with R is somehow a bigger deal than it is in my head. I never doubted we'd get to this point. Now that we're here it just feel exciting and natural. So maybe that's the rub for me, hearing, "you did it!" when I never questioned whether this day would arrive.

Of course, talk to me after I move my never-to-be-disclosed amount of shoes into R's not-the-biggest-walk-in-you've-ever-seen closet. I wholly welcome your congrats now, but after that war is waged, I'll actually deserve them.

Wish us/me luck! Or, you know, however you want to react.


  1. I think it's a congratulations on taking the next step in your relationship. Just as you would congratulate someone on an engagement or marriage or birth of a child, I think it is people recognizing and thinking it is wonderful that you are making that next level of commitment to R. Congratulations doesn't have to mean "good job," it can mean "I'm happy for you!"

  2. When I got engaged - which I know is a few steps down the road from moving into together - everyone I'd ever met was calling, emailing, facebooking to wish me congratulations and mazel tovs - and I doubt anyone would argue that it's not something to be celebrated like that - but there were so many people outside my inner circle reaching out to be happy, I remember my Mom saying, "there is so much to worry about in the world, people are excited for you and they want to share your joy" - moving in together may be "joy" on a smaller scale than an engagement, but it's certainly joy. It's positive, it's exciting (maybe not in every single case, but I know it is for you) So instead of thinking that it's not worth the congratulations or you didn't actually do something to deserve it... maybe enjoy the joy that you're giving others. That you can provide them with good news - it's not a friend losing their job, or car accident or an announcement about the poor state of affairs of our healthcare/education/political system... it's a positive - and positivity should be celebrated and congratulated wherever it can be found, in whatever way it appears - there's just simply not enough of it.