1. Someone is going to be the “creeper,” whose stuff is always overflowing into the common spaces or taking up entire shelves/counters. You might assume it’s always the woman, but creeping with your belongings is a genderless phenomenon. Men are just capable of letting their shit spill everywhere.
2. Navigating bathroom use is an awkward and inevitable thing. Eventually they will be aware of the fact that you’re doing a number two, and it’s up to you to decide how far you’re willing to go in the interest of preserving the mystery. Usually you’ll settle into a level of privacy you’re both comfortable with by the end of the first year. (My dad wouldn’t go to the bathroom when my mother was home for the first five years of their cohabitation, so it’s not universal.)
3. Unless you set expectations up-front for dish duty, they will often fall to the person who is okay with doing them. This will lead to a feeling of resentment, and a need to re-establish everyone’s dish duties. Establish who washes what as soon as possible.
4. Same with laundry, especially if you live in a city and have to drop it off/do it at a separate location.
5. Find music that you both like early on, so you have several go-to artists/albums/genres for when you want to put something on in the background without offending anyone.
6. Everyone needs their space on a regular basis, and that doesn’t mean you don’t love each other or you’re wrong for each other or whatever. It’s not normal or healthy to want to be in each other’s shit 24/7, so if someone wants to have the living room to themselves to zone out and watch their shows for an evening, don’t take offense. And when you need to do the same, don’t be afraid to ask.
7. If you work/sleep/chill on differing schedules, make sure to let the person who is sleeping sleep. If this means you have to take your laptop into the dining room at 11 PM to not disturb them, that’s just courtesy.
8. There are going to be some nights where you want to go all-out and cook an elaborate meal, but there are also going to be nights where you want to eat popcorn and watch bad TV for dinner. Both are great, and not living up to the domestic ideal every night isn’t a bad thing.
9. Everyone gets one or two incredibly irritating habits that they just aren’t going to drop, such as leaving used tea bags in the sink or forgetting to use a coaster. Pick your battles, and accept that you have those irritating habits, too. Be generous with each other’s flaws, and respectful of each other’s human-ness.
10. If one of you has a pet already or absolutely wants to get one, the other one better be damn sure they’re okay with pets, too.
11. Making nights in feel like special “date nights” is a) a huge money saver and b) allows cohabitation to feel like the awesome adult sleepover it should feel like in its best moments. Make yummy finger foods, mix nice cocktails, pick a movie you both really want to see, and light some candles. Always candles.
12. If one of you is cleaner than the other (and it’s always the case), you have to set specific tasks for the less-clean one, or it’ll never get done and the cleaner person will end up shouldering every burden. The clearer it is from the get-go, the fewer fights it will lead to.
13. Alternatively, the cleaner person will have to learn a few things they can chill about, such as not putting away laundry right away or not always having the bed made.
14. Investing in organizational products right away will save a ton of headaches. Avoid random piles forming around the house/apartment at all costs.
15. Sometimes the two of you are going to need to sleep separately, for example when one person is working all night on something, sick, or just not feeling great. Someone going to sleep on the couch for a night or two is nothing to worry about, and not a sign that anyone is in the “dog house.”
16. Learn how to compromise when it comes to things like bed firmness and comforter thickness. You both have to be as happy as possible without it being totally perfect.
17. Both parties need to feel comfortable having company over, whether or not they’re doing it “as a couple.” If one or both of you doesn’t feel okay just bringing over friends every now and again, you might as well be living with your parents.
18. Surprise each other with nice gestures. Flowers, big meals, a favorite movie.
19. You will never truly agree 100% on home décor, but that’s okay. The person who is dominant/gives more of a shit in that arena is obviously going to take the lead and make most of the decisions, but you have to give the other person at least the opportunity to veto things. No matter how much less interested the other person is, they should still always have a say, and be able to feel like the home is theirs, instead of just yours.
20. Don’t let each other get into Seamless ruts. It’s too easy to enable one another, especially in winter. Stay strong.
21. Sweatpants, hair tied, chillin with no makeup on should be totally comfortable and not something you’re “afraid to be seen in.” But dressing up for each other or wearing sexy stuff to bed now and then has its place, too. Just because you’re living together doesn’t mean you can’t still be dating.