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Vat 'n sit is the new normal

What is vat ‘n sit or cohabitation?

Vat ‘n sit is a South African Afrikaans term meaning cohabitation. To cohabit is when a couple lives together before they are legally or customarily married.

Vat ‘n sit or cohabitation allows you to live in a marriage set up, without legally committing. It makes the process of exiting easier if you are not happy with the relationship.

Reasons why couples opt to cohabit

  1. The couple already knows that they want to be together, but they might not have money to pay lobola (bridal price), buy the engagement ring, and have a wedding.  
  2. Sometimes the decision to cohabit is not planned, it happens gradually. It starts with a day’s visit, then two days, but over time the couple realizes that the time they spend together is more than the time they spend apart.
  3. After a planned or unplanned pregnancy, the couple may decide to live together.
  4. The couple can decide to stay together to ease the financial burden as they can share costs.
  5. The couple does not want to get married, but they want companionship.

Why cohabiting is a great idea

1. You are with the person that you love daily

The great thing about cohabiting is that you no longer have to miss each other since you are together almost every day unless if one of the parties has to go elsewhere.

2. You know your partner through all the phases

If you are staying together, you can know how your partner manages their emotions when they are happy, sad, angry, fearful, irritated, or even stressed.

Read more on the red flags never to ignore when in a relationship.

3. You get to know your partner better

If you stay with someone permanently, you get to know them better than you would if you only meet once in a while or if you communicate mostly digitally.

You can quickly know their interests, what turns them on, and what turns them off. You are also able to assess your partner’s values, goals, and financial circumstances.

4. You learn your partner’s habits timely

When you are staying together, you can quickly spot habits which you don’t like about you’re your partner, because they will get tired of pretending.

For instance, you will notice things like your partner’s spending habits, their addictions, social life, the time that they come back home, their level of cleanliness, and their relationships with other people.

5. You know your partner’s expectations

Cohabiting helps you know what your partner expects and you also get to know if your partner will meet your expectations.

It helps you know if your partner expects a domesticated woman who is will cook for him daily, clean up after him, and iron his clothes. A woman can assess earlier on if she will meet his expectations or she expects her man to assist with house chores. A man can also assess if the woman is right for his needs.

Read more on what a man expects from a woman

6. You learn to work together

When you stay together, you have to work as a team in order to manage the household. You learn to share tasks and responsibilities and pay the bills.

7. Minimal surprises after marriage

If you have stayed with your partner and thoroughly studied them, it might make the first year of marriage easier compared to couples who have not stayed together. You are at an advantage because you have found your rhythm and you won’t have unrealistic expectations about marriage.

Why vat n sit is not advisable

1. You no longer have your space

When you are staying with someone on a full-time basis, you lose your privacy. You might no longer be able to do what you want to do at your own time. You can no longer have visitors staying the entire night or visiting for an extended period because you are staying with someone.

2. Cohabiting complicates break-ups

The process of breaking up becomes complicated because you were sharing almost everything. Breakups feel like a divorce.

3. You have nowhere to go after an argument

You have nowhere to run to when you are angry at your partner because you no longer have a place of your own.

4. Your partner might not see the need to get married

If a man is getting all the benefits of marriage without having to commit, he might never see the need to get married.

Read these tips on how to make him marry you.

5. You partner becomes your boss

When you cohabit, it means that you automatically have a boss. You have to account to your partner and report all your movements, unlike if you are still staying in separate places.

Tips when entering into a cohabitation arrangement

  1. Discuss your intentions: Is the purpose of cohabiting to elevate financial pressure, or to be able to spend more time together or to build a future together?
  2. Be smart about how you split responsibilities or buy assets: If you buy perishables while your partner buys furniture, how will the assets be split when you break up? Be realistic because there is no guarantee that you will be together forever and unlike marriage, the law is not on your side to protect you if your partner dies or you part ways.
  3. Have an identity of your own before entering the arrangement: Be an individual and know what you want to achieve in life before partnering with someone because it can be very easy to lose focus. Do the things which make you happy, invest in yourself, and don’t only rely on your partner for support.


Matters of the heart have no formula, what works for you may not work for someone else. Cohabitation has many advantages but it also has its disadvantages.

Relationships are about communication, it is important to constantly discuss your goals to assess if you are still aligned. If you and your partner can’t reach an understanding, you might have to call it quits. There is nothing that legally binds you together.

Read more on how to move on from someone that you still love.

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