It’s getting towards the end of summer, when people all over the country are seeing their leases end and are about to move (at least, that was how it always was in college towns. Leases end around August 1). Some of those people are couples preparing to move in together. Girding their loins, perhaps. Certainly counting all that extra money they think they’ll have from combining bills.
Let’s pretend that you know what you’re doing. But you don’t, and we should talk a bit about what you should expect.
What? You don’t need any advice, you say? You've had roommates for years and are a wonderful molten ball of awesomeness magma as a roommate yourself? Oh, and you spend "practically every night together"? Yeah, it's still different.
Shut it and listen, kiddo. Pull out your college-ruled paper and #2 pencils, folks, it’s time to get schooled.
I feel like we’re growing up together, dear readers. You were there when I started my humble little blog. You were there when I grew older, wiser, sillier. You knew when I got a new job, when I hurt myself (repeatedly), and when I discovered that pants manufacturers are moving backwards in terms of pants-progression. And you were also there when Boyfriend and I moved in together. Well, sort of. I talked about the terribleness of apartment hunting, anyway.
It is at this point that we have lived together a whole YEAR. Whoa.
And so now it is time for some sage advice from this generation’s Dear Abby. YOU’RE WELCOME, WORLD.
It is nothing like having a roommate. Well, in the sense that you are sharing a room, yes. Otherwise, no. When you move in with your significant other, it’s very very different than when you’re living with a stranger or a good friend.
Example: Remember how the whole first year of dating, you never farted in front of him? That will change. You know how you always shaved your legs before going out with him and maybe he assumed you were magically clean-shaven all of the time? NOPE. NOT ANYMORE.
You are gross sometimes (and he’s gross most of the time). It’s true. Those Saturdays that you never showered or dressed or left the house, and you were gloriously dirty and all alone and could eat cheese all afternoon while watching Bravo?
He never saw those. And now he will. He will see them because even if you try for the first couple of months to pretend that you’re a hair-brushed and beautiful and clean-shaven person all of the time, it will NOT last. For several reasons. One, eventually you’re going to realize that you can’t be “on” all the time. You’re not on a date, you’re at home, which is your safe haven, your sanctuary, your relaxed space. At some point, you’ll realize all that extra effort is draining and silly, and just be your normal self. Two, your dude will have zero problem being himself around you. He will burp, and fart and then laugh. He’ll scratch his butt, maybe pick his nose if he thinks you aren't looking, and he will be his normal gross-boy self. You still love him. Why wouldn't he love you? And Three, he will catch you. He will walk in the room just as you fart and then laugh at you, and suddenly you’ll realize that it’s no big deal.
Your days of truly private space are at an end. When you live in an apartment with roommates, if you want to be alone, you can just go in your room and shut the door. When you live with your mate, you don’t have “my” space anymore. You have “our” shared space. At first, it feels weird, like a big adjustment. And it is, but you get used to it. You have to talk to your partner. If you need some private space, tell them. Not in a mean way, just explain “Hey, I want to go spend some time alone, ok? I’m not mad or anything, I just want to hang out by myself for awhile.” They’ll get it. Maybe they need some alone time, too, and didn't know how to say it without risking upsetting you.
Everyone needs their own space sometimes, it’s no big deal. For me, my “me time” is going to the gym. I get to get out of the house for a bit, and he is perfectly happy to get some alone time, too.
You don’t have to do everything together. There might be times, especially at first, when you’re spending every moment at home together, watching movies, taking walks, maybe shopping for furniture or decorating the apartment. But as time goes by and the “OMG we live together!!!” feeling moves more into “Hey, babe, I’m home” feeling, you start to adjust to each other’s schedules and moods. There will be plenty of times that he’ll be on the computer and you’re watching TV, or you are reading a book in the bedroom, and he’s watching a movie. You definitely don’t need to spend every moment engaged in an activity together. And you wont want to. So, don’t feel badly when you realize that you don’t WANT to go to Best Buy with him, or he doesn't feel like going to bed yet, just because you are.
You’re going to argue. Even if you’ve never really had much of a fight before, you will now. Moving in together is a huge adjustment, and you’re meshing your lives and routines together. It’s inevitable that you’ll argue. Maybe not about what you think, too. Maybe you imagine that you’ll argue about how much you love each other, or wedding details, or about the exact percentage of happiness you have. But you cannot be happy all of the time. Most of your arguments will likely be about stupid stuff, like you wanting to go run errands for the house and he just doesn’t feel like it. Or you guys agreed to do some cleaning, and you just won’t turn off the TV to get started. Or maybe you get frustrated and bored, and you just pick a minor fight. It happens, it’s not that big of a deal and you just need to make sure that you can communicate effectively and explain how you feel, and most importantly, listen to how the other person feels.
There will be times one or both of you are mad about something that has nothing to do with your relationship and there is nothing you can do about it. It’s true. Sometimes we get in bad moods without much of a reason why. It might not be fair to take that out on each other, but you’re the only 2 people around, and it can happen. Sometimes they don’t WANT to be cheered up, they just want to wallow. Deal with it. As long as you know that their bad mood isn’t your fault or the result of something that happened between the 2 of you, move on. Go chill somewhere else or leave the house for a while and let them wallow and cool down on their own. We can all use a good wallowing pity-party now and again.
You’ll have to apologize. There will be times when you say something stupid, or do something dumb, or jump to an unfortunate assumption, or just happen to say or do something that was misinterpreted or came out wrong. If you’re wrong, apologize. Staying mad solves nothing, and you have to work on communicating well. Apologizing and moving on is important. Being stubborn doesn’t solve anything and if you refuse to admit you’re wrong, you will make things worse.
Make sure you decorate together. No matter what your partner says, make sure you go TOGETHER to buy any furniture or wall art. It’s stuff you both have to like, or at least look at, every day. And honestly, I loved when we were decorating our place together. Our apartment is homey and warm and welcoming. There is nothing about our place that says “This is a sitting room for seeing only, not to play in.” It is also not a college dorm. It’s actually kind of adult-y and awesome. No posters tacked to the walls, no futons, not even a single corkboard. Our place has comfy furniture with some nice colored accents, lamps and clocks all over the place, a big TV, and pictures of us and our families on the wall, along with some framed prints.
Decorate together. It makes sure your styles are blending, and you’re both comfortable with the end result. Besides, would you really trust him to go off and buy a couch alone??
|Not my apartment.|
I am not trying to say that living together is going to suck. It doesn’t, it’s simply different. I’m letting you know that what you think it will be like, from living with your family or random roommates, is kind of wrong.
WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG. (Unlike you [probably], I’m singing my “you’re wrong” song).
Living together is super-mega-flippin’ awesome.
It really is. It takes adjustment and compromise, and learning to share all of your space, and some occasional “the toilet seat goes DOWN” training, but it’s great. I love coming home to him every day. Someone who, no matter how terrible (or great) a day has been, wants to hear about it, listens, makes sympathetic noises, and gives you a hug. Someone I can ask how their day went, and listen. Those few minutes when I first get home are like our time. No matter who might be over, or what happened that day, we spend a couple of minutes just the 2 of us.
When I’m bored on the weekends, I have someone to annoy. When either of us are in a bad mood, we have someone to talk us off the ledge. There is a constant thread of support, understanding, and love, even when you’re annoying the crap out of each other.
You are going to annoy the crap out of each other. A lot. Usually on purpose, whether it’s from boredom, excitement, or simply because you can. And it’s funny.
Have fun, kids! Moving sucks, but this time, the end result is pretty darn worth it. :)