A week and a half ago, I packed up my single girl apartment full of everything that represented ME, circa 2010-2013 and headed five miles east to a brand new apartment for my boyfriend and I to share.
Having only a few weeks notice, I had to act fast. Luckily, or unluckily depending on how you think about it, I had already done this before (THIS being lived with a significant other), and had some experience with the process. Whether you’re a seasoned, serial cohabitator, or you’re considering taking the plunge of a co-lease for the first time, here are some tips I learned in the past few weeks:
1. Be strict about getting rid of clothes.
You’re going to be sharing a closet, and if I didn’t need to keep 12 deep v-neck American Apparel t-shirts, then you don’t need to be holding onto poor fashion choices from 2009 either. Yes, those True Religions need to be shown the door.
2. Set boundaries early on.
Don’t walk on eggshells in the beginning to create peace. Speak up about what you can and can’t live with before old habits settle in too deep. It may cause some stressful arguments in the beginning, but you’ll be happy you never have to live with dirty dishes in the sink in the long run.
3. Accept that while people change…they don’t really change.
It’s important to help each other grow into better people but, at the end of the day, we are who we are (thanks Ke$ha). Don’t go into this arrangement expecting mountains to move.
On that note, be OK that everyone is annoying and awful some of the time.
4. Deal with it.
My boyfriend has to deal my Dashboard Confessional hair everywhere and nasty, crusty toothpaste on the hand towel, and I have to deal with him leaving dirty dishes to die all over the house. We’re both pretty gross humans in our own special way, but we decided to fall in love and here we are.
6. Look on the bright side.
You get to split the cost of things like new furniture and groceries!
7. Make a plan for shared finances.
Who is going to pay for what? Splitting everything down the middle is for the best, but different strokes for different folks. Make a plan before you get into a raging fight.
8. Don’t go to bed angry.
You can no longer go to your separate corners for the night to cool off, so learn how to deal with it in the moment to avoid anyone needing to sleep on the couch.
9. Identify strengths and weakness.
For instance, I am a powerhouse when it comes to cleaning…handy with things around the house, not so much. My boyfriend and I made a deal that on days that I clean; he would tackle ongoing projects around the house. Also, I’m better at dishes, and he’s a winner at taking out the trash. The chores have to get done, so split them up based on what you don’t mind doing, or what you’re good at.
The best-case scenario is that you both move into a brand new place that neither has lived in before. Make it your own! It’s so important to make your new dwelling a home that represents both your individuality as people, and you as a couple. Over time invest in cool art and furniture you both enjoy.
11. Be OK with crying irrationally.
This is tough stuff. In a lot of ways, this is just as momentous as a dumb old diamond ring. It’s a huge commitment that will naturally evoke a lot of mental hardships and subsequent emotional breakdowns over a painted yellow wall (I ADMIT NOTHING). Just breathe; this too shall pass. But, until then, just cry and snot it out.
It’s not going to be easy, but it’s definitely going to be fun and exciting to live with your very best friend. I was still feeling a little uneasy about the whole thing a few days into the new living situation until, one morning, my boyfriend told me my hair looked good. UNPROVOKED.
I think I can get used to living like this.