I’ve had my fair share of relationships (seven, to be exact). But not one of those relationships really prepared me for moving in with my significant other. (For full disclosure, I’ve lived with two partners: the former for about two years, the latter — my current boyfriend — for about four months.)
Even though I had roommates my first year of college, I’ve experienced some unique perks and challenges having my significant other as a roommate. For one thing, there’s the romance aspect of it. It’s basically a sleepover every night with the person you love and vice versa. But on the other hand, you’re sharing a space with someone, and that could be a lot to handle, especially if you enjoy your time alone or if you’ve gotten used to living independently.
Fortunately, my boyfriend and I have gathered some insight into the different challenges we’ve faced so far and how we’re making it work. Together, we brainstormed a few tips for anyone who is planning on moving in with their significant other in the near future or who has already moved in with their partner. Remember: what works for us, may not work for your relationship.
Talk about your living styles with each other.
It’s important to learn how you and your significant other were raised so you two can have a feel for each other’s lifestyles. For example, did your partner share a room with their siblings when they were younger? Did you grow up with a fixed schedule for chores (e.g. mop the floors every Sunday, take out the trash every Wednesday, etc.)? Do you prefer having a quiet home or are you fine with loud music? Are there certain household tasks you enjoy doing? Any chores you’d rather have your partner tackle? These are just a few questions you should ask each other before you move in and while you’re living together. That way, you can better understand your partner’s habits and make compromises on things like washing the dishes, doing the laundry, or cleaning the bathroom.
Discuss your finances.
I would be remiss if I didn’t bring this up. You and your significant other should be open and honest with each other about how you plan on splitting everything — rent, utilities, WiFi, groceries, toilet paper, and furniture, to name a few. You should also talk about any debt you may have (student loans, credit card debt, etc.) and how you plan on paying it off.
One thing that has helped my boyfriend and me is to hold weekly “financial meetings.” Every Friday at 9 p.m., we sit down together and go over our earnings and spendings over the past week. Then, we give each other feedback on ways to save more money. Most importantly, we reflect on what we could have done better, what we plan on doing in the coming week to improve, and money habits we want to continue moving forward.
I’ll be the first to admit that I absolutely hated the idea of talking about money. I wasn’t used to sharing practically everything in my bank statement with anyone, let alone my significant other. But I truly believe this has made our relationship stronger and our spending habits wiser.
A rule of thumb for cleaning: whoever the cleaner partner is, dictates how clean the home has to be.
I like to think I’m an organized person, but I’d say my boyfriend is more anal about cleanliness. He’s the type of person who hates seeing clothes on the bed, whereas I’m the one leaving the clothes on the bed in the first place. I’m the type of person who doesn’t mind the occasional “depression bedroom” look, but my boyfriend prefers a clean room at all times. So, I’ve decided that we should follow my boyfriend’s standards of cleanliness instead of my own.
Think about it: if we were to go by my cleanliness standards, we’d probably only clean our home when we have a spontaneous burst of energy at midnight on a random Friday. I think that sounds really fun, but I know it would drive my partner over the edge. To avoid this problem — and maintain my partner’s sanity — we simply follow his standards of organizing.
Give each other time and space to be alone.
I love my “me days.” That’s when I can lie in bed all day, binge-watch The Kardashians on Hulu, take long naps, and drink red wine. As for my boyfriend’s “me days,” he enjoys playing Red Dead Redemption, weightlifting with his friends, drinking a cold beer, and cooking. We make sure to give each other ample space and time to do these things by ourselves, and it makes our relationship healthier and more balanced.
If you have a spare office or bedroom, consider using it as a space for “me days.” And if you’re like us and don’t have an extra room in your home, don’t be afraid to ask your partner for some alone time. I cannot overemphasize the importance of respecting each other’s boundaries and giving each other space to grow and recharge independently. You are your own person, so don’t neglect your self-care, especially when you’re in a relationship.
My boyfriend is the one who brought up this tip, and I couldn’t agree more. Living together is a huge step in your relationship, so you want to make sure you’re upfront about where you see your relationship going in the future and whether moving in together is truly what you two want. It’s also a good idea to have a plan B in case your relationship doesn’t work out or there’s an emergency. For example, if you break up, where would you live? If your home needs to be fumigated, are you close enough to friends or family to crash at their place? If there’s severe flooding or other damage to your home, what’s your plan? You want to be prepared for anything that may come your way, even if you plan on living together long-term.
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