As you know, it's always a good idea to keep certain etiquette tips in mind when you're a guest in someone's home, mostly so you can enjoy each other's company, respect each other's space, and avoid awkward moments. And the same is true when it comes to
staying over your partner's house.
While you might not care what they do when visiting your place, the role of "guest" is a little bit different. Yes, you're dating. So you'll obviously have more leeway than the average visitor. But it's still a good idea to respect their space and their privacy — especially in the early days of the relationship.
Of course everyone's different, and some couples may
want to get homey right away. So feel free to do whatever makes you both happy. That said, " until you’re living together, even if you have a drawer at each other’s place and a key to their home ... [you should] err on [the side of] caution," Julie Spira, relationship expert and CEO of Cyber-Dating Expert, tells Bustle. Spira says it's important to respect each other's space, both physically and emotionally.
doesn't mean you have to walk on eggshells, feel unwelcome, or remain silent if something seems unfair. When it comes to talking about sharing a space, "be kind, but assertive," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. You won't know you're overstepping boundaries, or getting on each other's nerves, unless you both talk about it.
With that in mind, here are a few things experts say your
partner probably wishes you'd stop doing whenever you stay at their house or apartment.
Constantly Cleaning Up After Them
It's obviously polite to help with the dishes after a meal. And you might want to do some light cleaning, just to be nice. But beyond that, try not to walk around picking up after your partner — even if you're really itching to do so. Spira says this can be a bit of a buzzkill,
and it can send the message that you don't approve of their lifestyle.
So, instead of washing their entire house from top to bottom, stick to smaller tasks. You might want to "make the bed in the morning before you leave for work, so it seems more of a natural task and a win-win," Spira says. And you should obviously clean up after yourself. But try not to go overboard.
Looking Over Their Shoulder
When you're spending all your time together, it can be easy to forget about boundaries. But one thing pretty much
everyone hates is feeling like they don't have any privacy — especially in their own home.
And for many couples, this centers around their phones. "A ... phone should have some element of privacy to it," Spira says. "If every time you hear a text message chime, and you start looking over their shoulder, it sends a sign that
you’re indirectly spying on them and could show a level of insecurity or lack of trust."
If you both value your privacy, don't let this become a habit. In order for the relationship to be healthy, you'll want to establish
boundaries that revolve around a sense of trust.
Overstaying Your Welcome
If you two are comfortable, and it's clear you're both welcome to stay in each other's space, then don't feel like you need to leave just to leave.
That said, as it goes with any guest situation, it's vital you read the room and not overstay your welcome. "There are many times when your partner has a lot to do or simply might
need some alone time," Bennett says. "If your partner drops hints that it’s time to leave and you ignore them, it can be very frustrating. Don’t overstay."
Being On Your Phone The Entire Time
While it's obviously OK to check your texts, some people get annoyed when they try to hang out with their partner, only for them to spend the entire time on their phone. So make a pact that you'll put your phones away and fully enjoy each other's company.
"If you’re spending days at a time at your partner’s house, there’s nothing wrong with taking a moment to do your own thing,"
dating expert Heather Ebert tells Bustle. "Just be mindful of how much time you're spending away from them." Your visit is, after all, about bonding and hanging out together.
Even though it may be tempting to have a look around your partner's home, don't make a habit out of snooping. "Privacy is much more important than you may think," Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author of
, tells Bustle. "Don’t snoop through drawers or medicine cabinets. And if you do, certainly don’t ask questions about it. If you’re snooping because you’re concerned about some of your partner’s behavior, ask instead." Dr. Romance's Guide to Finding Love Today
As you get further into your relationship, your lives and things will start blending together. But until that happens, it's important to be cognizant of your space usage — as well as how comfy you allow yourself to be.
"No matter how roomy or tight your partner’s space is, it’s your partner’s space," Dr. Tessina says. "Don’t leave your coat laying on the couch, or your shoes in the middle of the floor. Put things away, and if you don’t know where, ask." Doing so is just another way to show that you respect each other's boundaries.
Being Reckless With Their Things
Everyone makes the occasional mistake. But it's so important to be extra careful when staying in someone else's space.
For example, you'll want to "double [and] triple check that you have locked their door if you are the last to leave," author and relationship therapist
Dr. Caroline Madden tells Bustle. "Do one last check that the stove isn’t on." Make sure their cat is inside. Turn the lights off, etc.
By showing respect for their things — even in seemingly obvious ways — it can help foster a feeling of trust in the relationship. And it'll set the vibe for when/if you move in together down the road.
You know how you hate it when someone comes over and turns on all the lights, then leaves the room without turning them off? As Dr. Madden says, these things can really irk your partner, too.
So even though you may feel at home in their space, don't leave lights on, don't turn the heat up all the way, and avoid luxuriating in the shower. Unless you guys have talked about it or are splitting the bills, you'll want to use things like water and electric sparingly.
While it's probably OK to have a few snacks, be mindful of how many groceries you go through while staying at your partner's place. "Most partners are more than happy to share their food," Bennett says. "However, it can be rude to 'raid the fridge' when you visit your partner."
After all, you never know what they were planning to cook, or which leftovers they were expecting to return to later on in the day. "That food could be a part of a planned meal or your partner might have a limited grocery budget," Bennett says. "If you constantly eat your partner’s food, be considerate and offer to replace it."
While you don't have to walk on eggshells, you should
pay attention to what's important to your partner when staying with them — the same way they should respect your space when staying with you. By doing so, you'll be showing respect for the . And that's really what this is all about. relationship