On our two-year anniversary, my girlfriend and I moved into a one-bedroom apartment together. We both lived on the opposite ends of Los Angeles beforehand. Why move in together if it meant one of us gaining an ungodly awful commute? However, I was planning to quit my job anyway so the timing was perfect. It’s been about two months into our cohabitation and here are the 5 things I’ve learned (but certainly not the only things nor the last things I will learn):
Combining Your Stuff Is Weird
Bookshelves that barely match, weird amounts of art and posters that clash, lots and lots of towels, but no lamps or plants. Two TVs! In theory it should all work, but it’s unrealistic to buy all new furniture (especially being in our 20s) so you have to make due with a hodgepodge collection. The only reason our place doesn’t resemble a college dorm is through the color coordinating of our sheets and framing anything that goes on the walls. Keep it classy and you won’t go wrong.
Your Pets Will Either Entertain Each Other Or Kill Each Other
My girlfriend and I aren’t the only ones who are together all the time now. Our two cats have not adjusted nearly as well. There are passive-aggressive attempts at dominance and even outright fighting (mostly harmless). Believe me, waking up to two cats tumbling on top of you in the bed in the middle of the night is common in the beginning. Hopefully they’ll learn to work together sooner than later, but I’m keeping Jackson Galaxy’s number handy just in case.
Do Chores When They’re Needed
Clean the litter box. Do the dishes. Wash the towels and sheets. Sweep and vacuum. Ideally chore duty is split fifty-fifty, but it’s unrealistic to the demands of our individual working days. So when I see empty diet coke cans lying around, or when I pull the empty Brita filter out of the fridge, I don’t grumble. Chances are when I’m not around, my girlfriend has thrown away my trash, cleaned the litter box or put away the dishes. Instead of fighting over the semantics of chore duties, just do what you see in front of you. If you and your partner follow this rule, everything will come out even in the end.
The Other Person Is ‘The Messy One’
The reason number three on this list exists because of this inevitable fact I didn’t know when moving in with a partner: the other person is ‘The Messy One.’ I thought I was going to be the messy one, gender stereotypes aside, but I was totally wrong. When you see your partner’s personal messiness it can be off-putting at first, but remember, you are used to your own slovenly habits. It’s a two-way street. You are ‘The Messy One’ too.
Going To Bed At The Same Time Every Night Isn’t Easy
This piece of relationship advice is tricky, it depends on you and your partner’s individual lifestyles. I’m a writer and editor. My girlfriend works at a meta-analysis company and is applying to medical school. We couldn’t be more opposite in terms of career goals (and schedules currently). When we didn’t live together our nights with each other were sacred. We went to bed at the same time, but now that we live together this is not nearly as realistic seven days a week. Late nights are perfect for editing marathons or writing my next novel. Early mornings my girlfriend is off to the office and works on her applications in the early evenings. Making sure we have time together at home is essential though. Whether it’s cooking, watching X-Files, or playing with the cats together, it’s important to not let our individual jobs and activities pull us apart.
Overall the experience of living with my girlfriend is great so far. This journey is still a work in progress. Telling myself there are still things that need attending to will only make me appreciate what’s working even more. It’s about keeping in constant communication, laughing when our cats fight over space in the bed, and to always be there for each other.