Other than marriage and children, moving in together is one of the biggest steps you and your partner can take. In addition to presenting all sorts of practical concerns, sharing a living space tests your relationship’s compatibility in a way few other experiences do, requiring even greater amounts of the qualities that all good relationships are made of: Communication, patience, sympathy, and kindness.
But some aspects of living together are impossible to predict, and only become clear a couple of months after signing a lease. Here are some of the lessons I've learned from moving in with my girlfriend (so far).
Seeing Other People Is Essential
When you live with someone, you’re essentially hanging out with them by default whenever you’re at home. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have your own life. Before we moved in together, my girlfriend and I established that doing things without each other was perfectly fine, and not an indication that we didn’t want to be around each other (which is an easy assumption to make subconsciously). It's actually good for your relationship not to hang out all the time, and living together can make it easier to know you're not rejecting your partner by taking that space.
Sharing Grocery Responsibilities Is Key
I know maybe three recipes total, so my shopping list usually consists of those ingredients, plus a bunch of frozen pizzas. But there’s a bunch of food my girlfriend eats that I would never have thought to buy on my own. As a result, my eating repertoire has, through absolutely no effort on my part, doubled (actually, it’s more than doubled, seeing as my girlfriend actually knows more than three recipes). I'm even learning a thing or five.
You have some weird interests
If you can lose yourself for hours staring at a bookshelf, you’ll have a bunch of new titles to gaze at (or read, even) once you move in with your partner. You’ll also reap the benefits of their magazine collections; however, if you happen to get any magazines about which you’re embarrassed (my incredibly nerdy and unnecessary subscription to Campaigns & Elections, for example), they’ll be on full display as well, so be warned.
There's No Escaping your Issues
Arguing with a partner is never particularly enjoyable, but when you’ve got your own place, you can at least brood alone in your room for a bit to cool down afterwards. You don’t have that luxury when you share a space with someone, and if your place is particularly small, it’s even worse.
On the plus side, this is a good incentive for you to be really, really communicative with each other and do everything in your power to prevent issues from becoming so big that they precipitate fights to begin with. So in its own way, this lesson is a win too.
How To Work With Different Sleep Schedules
I’m a morning person who needs very little sleep (which makes me something of a freak of nature, I know), while my girlfriend is more or less the opposite. But that’s not a bad thing: It means I get a couple of extra hours every day to pursue my creative projects, and she gets a fresh breakfast every morning prepared by yours truly while she’s sleeping. It’s win-win.
There’s Stuff You Do That You Have No Idea Is Annoying
Like leaving empty cups on the counter, or not putting away the cutting board after you cut cheese on it (those are just arbitrary examples that have nothing to do with me or my own tendencies, obviously). Even small mannerisms that you don’t even think about, like cracking your knuckles or chewing your nails, might get on your partner’s nerves — and if they do, you’ll learn about them pretty soon after moving in together.
Spontaneity is Key
When you wake up, you’re already in the same location, so that makes the process of meeting up easier (well, non-existent, really). If neither of you have anything planned for the day, taking a day trip, exploring the city, having a picnic, or going on a hike on is as easy as walking out the door. You can be settled down without being settled.
...But You’ll Still End Up Binge-Watching TV Shows
Because let’s face it: Watching a great series with your partner is, for some mysterious reason, an awesome form of romantic bonding, and it requires almost zero effort. When you live in the same house, it requires literally zero effort, so you’ll probably be doing a lot of that.
Let it never be said that living together is something guys simply get dragged into. I know I'm having fun, and learning lessons that I want to come home to, everyday. It's almost as cheesy as this ad. Well, not quite...