Chances are that when you decide to move in with your partner, you're feeling pretty optimistic about your ability to tolerate them. But a few days, weeks, or months in, your mind ends up finding new things to get annoyed by. Maybe you never realized they chewed so loudly, or their bad taste in music isn't so cute anymore. Relax — this is normal, and there are ways to curb it.
The key to avoiding cohabitation burnout is to split your attention evenly between three things: you, your partner, and the relationship, Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist and associate professor of public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, tells Bustle. "Every day, in a relationship, you have three criteria to meet: 1. Is this good for me? 2. Is this good for them? and 3. Is this good for the relationship? The trick is to not get overloaded on any one of the three. Some days, it needs to be about you, some them, some the relationship."
It's when these three things are thrown off balance that you start to resent your partner. So, you could actually get tired of each other because you're not spending enough time together. If your only interactions are telling each other to move out of the way while you're cooking, you can forget what you like about the relationship.
"By balancing your attention across the three, the outcome will be the best for all three," says Klapow. "This may mean 'alone time,' it may mean taking on tasks individually, or it may mean hobbies that you do together and you do apart." Here are some ways to maintain that balance.
1Schedule Alone Nights
Wendy Newman, author of 121 First Dates, recommends actually designating "solo nights" in a shared Google calendar. One person has a night out on the town by themselves, and the other can spend the evening sprawled out, forgetting about how they look, and binging-watch shows the other person hates.
"When you’re together, a little part of your attention is on 'How they doing?' or 'Do they need anything?'" she explains. "Solo night means everyone’s on their own, and it gives that part of us that wants to please or provide something a night off too."
2Designate Your Own Space
Even if you can't afford to have your own rooms, designate a portion of the apartment for yourself, even if it's just a corner where your desk is or, if need be, a closet you can retreat to for alone time. "When you're living together, it's important to have a personal space that you've declared as your own," says April Davis, Relationship Expert and CEO of LUMA- Luxury Matchmaking.
3Spend A Little Time Alone Every Day
Go on a run, sit at a cafe, or run an errand by yourself each day, Davis suggests. Even if you want to spend every moment of every day with your partner, preemptively designating alone time helps you avoid burnout.
4Work On Other Areas Of Your Life
No matter how happy your relationship makes you, it alone won't make you satisfied with your life. You also need to maintain your friendships, your career, your hobbies and interests, and your spiritual and emotional growth, says Klapow. That way, you won't hold your partner to the expectation to provide everything.
5Go Out Of Your Way For Your Partner
It may sound contradictory that going out of your way for your partner will stop you from getting sick of them, but if both people are making each other happy, everyone is happy. Take time to learn about your partner's interests, help them with something, or bring home a surprise for them, Klapow suggests. They'll show you affection in turn, and your interactions will be positive.
6Devote Time To Your Relationship
If you want your relationship to stay strong enough for a positive cohabitation, you have to put work into it, says Klapow. Talk about your problems, do things you love together, go on dates, and even go to couples' therapy or on a couple's retreat to prioritize both of you at the same time.
There are still bound to be moments when one of you can't stand the way the other one chews or taps your feet on the floor. But these tips will help you remember the big picture when that happens.