You’ve reached that stage — the moving-in-together one. You’re in love, you just got engaged (or are planning on it), or insert-your-other-reasons here. You’ve chosen an apartment together, you’re picking out grown-up things, like curtains, and you’re about to make your first meal together as a couple that now lives together. Yep, you’re adulting. But, there are unexpected things that happen when you move in together.
“I would say that communication and expectation-setting are key,” clinical psychologist Janna Koretz, Psy.D, tells Bustle. “Discussing potential issues before the move is an excellent way to avoid conflict and mismatched expectations. When we move in with someone, we know at least some things about them. Of course, we can't anticipate everything, which is why communication, post-move, is also key. Being able to calmly address things as they come up over time will significantly improve relationship satisfaction.”
So, while living with your significant other can be a lot of fun — after all, your best friend is home with you all the time! — it also takes a lot of work — your best friend is home with you all the time! Aside from craving some space of your own sometimes, there are several unexpected things that happen when you live together. But good news — they’re manageable, as long as you communicate and deal with them in a proactive (i.e., talk about it) way, not a passive-aggressive-things-will-only-get-worse one.
1. There May Be Money Issues, And More Than Just About Rent
In Rent.com’s survey of 1,000 cohabitating renters, what do you think the number one thing was that renters wished they’d talked about before signing a lease together? Yep, money. Maybe you assumed your partner would pay more of the rent (since they make more, and Suze Orman believes couples should divide rent based on percentages of what they make, not 50-50, since many people make different amounts). Or maybe you assumed he’d pay the cable (you don’t even watch TV!). So, talk. Even about the little expenses (like who’s paying for the new juicer). I know money’s a tough topic, but it’s easier to discuss before the bills start rolling in, ya know? Plus, there are many ways to save money, on your own and together.
2. There May Be Messiness (Or The Opposite)
Maybe you knew your significant other wasn’t the neatest person, but now’s your chance to see it first-hand. Every day. Does he or she use the couch as a coat rack instead of the closet? Or are there so many clothes on your bedroom floor that you can no longer see the actual floor? Perhaps you don’t mind (you’re not the neatest either). Or perhaps you do mind and are tired of picking up the trail of clothes just so you don’t trip on them anymore. Aside from clothing clutter, what about other areas of the apartment or house, like the kitchen and bathroom? Or maybe your partner leans too much toward being a neat freak, which is tough for you to maintain. After all, you think your place should look lived in, not like a museum. There must be a balance of being neat yet not too messy, right?
In Rent.com’s survey with those 1,000 cohabitating renters, over 25 percent found that having different cleaning habits was the biggest challenge when living together. Just 11 percent (!) said they talked about dividing up chores before they decided to cohabitate. “If your partner is pretty messy and you're someone who likes cleanliness, talking about these preferences and assigning tasks beforehand can be very helpful,” Dr. Koretz says.
3. They’ll Be There 24/7, At Every Turn
Even though living with your significant other is wonderful in 101 different ways, sometimes you’ll want alone time. Or friend time. Or non-S.O. time. Just because you’ve signed an apartment lease together, it doesn’t mean you signed a will-be-attached-to-your-side lease, too. Maybe you’re more social than they are, and that’s fine. While it’s easy to get caught up in forgetting about the rest of the world and spending every second with your significant other, it’s healthy to maintain your own life, too. Rent.com’s survey found that 63 percent of coupled-up-and-living-together people rarely go out with only their friends. That’s way too many, I think.
“Keep your own hobbies and interests and don’t be home all the time,” Karenna Alexander, a NYC matchmaker and dating coach, tells Bustle. “Your [partner] needs to appreciate you and miss you for that spark to stay alive. That spark is so important when living together because if it dies a fast death. Everyone wants romance and excitement in their life.”
4. Embarrassing Things Will Happen
Whether you’re prone to stomachaches or acid reflux issues, I’m sure there are things you’ve mainly kept to yourself… until now. Your partner probably knows the ins and outs of you pretty well, but everything will be magnified now that you’re in the same living space. There’s no escape! So, here’s where true love is really put to the test.
5. You’ll Discover Their Strange Quirks (And Yours Will Come Out, Too)
You know how we all have little things we do that we’re not even aware of? Well, now’s the time they’ll be on display to someone else, like it or not. When my boyfriend and I moved in together, I’d wake up way before I had to, to the sound of him spraying something and a pleasant fragrance would fill the bedroom — his cologne. However, as nice as it was, I’d then have trouble falling back asleep (getting lost in his cologne instead). I know this is a small example, but you’re bound to discover countless ones, nice and not-so-nice. Get ready.
6. There May Be Drama Over Food
You’ve had a long day and nothing would be better than a home-cooked meal with your partner. But… who made it? No one has to be a contestant on Top Chef, but you’ll soon see who the chef (and sous chef) is in the relationship. If one of you works longer hours than the other, don’t automatically assume the person who works fewer will cook. They may be just as tired as you.
Hint: Invest in a Crock-Pot. For years, I avoided them — they looked so intimidating. But you can get a good one for around $35 (or less, or more, depending on the size and model). This will save many a relationship. Gone are fights over who will cook — either of you can easily add a few ingredients to the pot, turn it on, and both go your respective ways to work for the day. Amazing, huh? Best. Investment. Ever.
7. You May Have To Work Harder At Wooing Each Other (And Making Time For Sex)
There are a lot of ways to keep romance alive when you live together — in and out of the house — as long as you put in the work. “It’s important to maintain the health of the relationship and not become complacent, too comfortable, or too set in our routines once we live together,” Ravid Yosef, dating and relationship coach at LoveLifeTBD.com, tells Bustle. “While the fire won’t always burn as strong as it did in the beginning of your relationship, it doesn’t have to dim either. That’s when you lose interest in one another and seek outside stimulation.”
Erika Martinez, Psy.D., a Miami-based licensed psychologist, agrees. “I feel that the best way to keep the spark alive is making an effort to keep a little spontaneity happening, which can show up in different ways,” she tells Bustle. “A surprised romantic date at a fine restaurant, a quick weekend getaway to a place neither person has been to, a cooked meal or a crossed off to-do item for your S.O. when you know they're busy, random love notes or texts, or even a surprise photo session of the two of you (boudoir photo shoots are very sexy!) — basically, anything that keeps you trying and doing new things together, just as you did in the early stages of dating. It's not so much what you do, but that you're considerate and appreciative of each other and make time to be together.”
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