I consider myself lucky that I still have a really good relationship with my ex-boyfriend. I know a lot of times breakups don’t allow for this. There’s hurt feelings or maybe something more serious happened (like cheating) which yields thoughts of “Please never contact me again. And maybe could you get hit by a bus too?” Despite our mutual good feelings toward one another, I think my ex and I moved in together too early (we shacked up immediately after graduating college) and had no idea what to expect. This supplied the perfect breeding ground for a tornado of domestic immaturity.
Now, three(ish) years later, a lot of my friends are at the stage in the game where they’re getting ready to move in with their significant others. I’ve spent time talking with them about what I learned and what I’d do differently if I could. A few of these points include:
- Yes, you need to divide up chores: I know a lot of couples are like, “We both pitch in and it works out great!” but when you’re first getting comfortable living with someone, this isn’t always feasible. It helps to sit down and figure out who’s taking care of what. This way you’re not passive aggressively slamming cabinet doors wondering why in God’s name he doesn’t see that the trash is full.
- Find a level of cleanliness that works for both of you: The likelihood that you define “clean” in the same way is slim to none. Instead, you need to find a middle ground that you can both live with. It may be a little messier than you like or vice versa, but if both parties can give in to keep the other happy, it’s worth it.
- Alone time is good: When you first move in together, you may feel as if you’ve got to spend every evening watching the same thing on TV or else you’re doing it wrong. In reality, alone time is necessary and healthy. It’s okay to say, “I’m going to watch Bravo in the bedroom for a little while.” It’s your home, you have to feel comfortable doing what you want to do.
- Keep it cute: When I’m home, I’m in sweats. When you live with a significant other, that’s fine, but you can’t forget to turn up the cute factor every once in a while. This is a problem you’ll encounter in any long-term relationship, but it’s especially easy when you’re living together. Why change out of your comfy clothes to run and grab a coffee together? Then eventually you’re in a never-ending flow of lazy outfits. I’m not saying you have to be completely done up in your own home all the time, but don’t forget to try to impress the other person once in a while. They’ll appreciate it.
Lastly, you have to be able to give a little. Just like when you’re living with a roommate, pick your battles and realize you both have to call this place home. It’s not all about what you want or what he wants. If he loves that old light up Corona sign that he’s had since college, is it really a huge deal if he keeps it? If you need to feel like the house is clean on Sunday night, can you agree that Sunday afternoon is the day you take care of straightening everything up? This give and take makes a huge difference.