When my boyfriend and I made the long-awaited decision to move in together (we had been dating for six years), I was definitely a tad nervous. That's a lie. I was in complete and total freak-out mode. I'd wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking, "What if he can't stand my obsessive need to color code the bookshelves?!"
Moving in with someone is like the acid test for your relationship. If you can't make it work, you might as well call it quits now before legal documents and bank accounts complicate things exponentially. And through my anxiety vision, all I could see were relationship land mines just waiting to be stepped on.
Despite my worries, moving day inevitably came, and we both took one giant leap of faith together. We've now been living together for two years, and things for the most part turned out OK. Here's what actually went down during that fateful first year.
Simply put, his furniture was from the hideous side of the 1940s (aka his grandmother's apartment), but he fought tooth and nail to keep it. I now know the only reason he did that was because I was fighting so hard to get rid of it. Those knockdown battles taught me an important lesson about communication — the only way to get what I want is to trick him into thinking it's what he wants first.
Sharing one bathroom with another person is never easy, but it's one thing when it's a female roommate in college and quite another when it's your boyfriend. One surprising discovery I made was my guy takes a lot longer to get ready in the morning than I do. That's definitely a problem when you only have one sink (and two cats). We'd vie for position around the mirror while our cats stood on the sink, wondering when we'd turn the water on for them. Needless to say we had to come up with a better system — now, I get mirror time while he's in the shower and vice versa. Problem solved.
When you live with someone, there is no end to all the little household things you now both handle together. As such, texts take on a whole new purpose. While you used to send tons of romantic and sexy texts to each other, now it's all about errands, reminders, bills and technology issues. Even though that might sound boring and lame, when my dude tells me he remembered to pick up milk on the way home, my heart goes all aflutter.
So yeah... this one still gets to me a bit. My boyfriend and I are like Bert and Ernie, and no, I'm not Ernie. He's just not great about picking up after himself, and as a result, I end up acting like his maid (or even worse, his mother) from time to time. As you can imagine, this does not make me want to jump him when he gets home from work. However, I've found that asking nicely to clean up his various piles generally succeeds in getting the job done, as long as he's not in the middle of something. To this day, the greatest moment of living together is when I came home from a weekend away to an organized, spotless apartment including a well-made bed. Don't worry, he was appropriately rewarded.
One of the biggest downsides to living with someone is you have to give up some of your precious alone time. You know those days when you used to spend hours watching Gilmore Girls reruns by yourself in your underwear while eating low-calorie popcorn? You can't really do that anymore, unless you're lucky enough to have a sig-o who goes out of town a lot. However, what happens as a result of them always being around is you eventually get comfortable hanging in your underwear, snacking and watching chick-friendly TV together. Well, maybe not that last part, but you get what I'm saying.
When you're really comfortable with each other, suddenly going out and actually having to do things with other people starts sounding like a terrible idea. I'd say we spent 65 percent of our first year living together indoors watching every show that was ever recommended to us by friends. But did we see those friends? Not so much.
Here are just a few choice soundbites from all the fights we had: "Why did you hang that there?", "I did not say you should buy the most expensive TV they had!", "Your mother's coming by this morning??", "You can't just screw that into the wall. You need an anchor!", "Did you ever do dishes in your last apartment?", "I thought you set up automatic payments??", "I haven't seen you wear half the clothes in this closet", "But you don't actually use the bike!", and finally the classic, "I asked you seven times to buy toilet paper on your way home!!"
Everyone goes through some version of this list the first year they live with someone, so if you find yourself nodding along to all of it, you're not alone (hi). The best way to make it through is to keep an open line of communication at all times. You might feel like you're oversharing, but trust me, you're not. If you hide frustrations, they will grow until they're start to impact other aspects of your relationship. Just take every trial as it comes, and when in doubt, consult your friends who've been in it longer.
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