- Speak Up and Communicate
I have a habit of avoiding conflict at all costs. Once I drove to Starbucks in a huff and started writing down all the things my boyfriend had done that annoyed me over the past five months, my grievances taking up seven pages in total. When I came home and expressed my annoyances to him , he was so confused as to why I hadn't just told him at the time the thing happened. We had a long talk and I opened up about avoidance and appeasement being my go-to reactions as well as my fear of abandonment. He reassured me he wasn't going anywhere, that he loved me, and that he wanted me to tell him if he did something wrong in the future. After that, we openly would point out if the other did something that really upset or annoyed us and worked together to devise a solution we were both happy with. Moral of the story, if you don't tell someone what you think or feel, they aren't going to read your mind. Communication is the most important aspect of any relationship.
- Not Every "I" needs to be a "We"
Once you move in together, it's easy to get used to being in each other's space all the time. If the apartment or room you're sharing with your S.O. is on the smaller side, your stuff is going to overlap. My boyfriend and I became pretty codependent the first couple months of living together and it took a lot of effort to break out of that rut. We began making all of our plans as a "we." It's so crucial to find a way to spend time alone, whether it's to work, do a hobby, spend time with your friends in person or via Zoom, or just have some quiet solo time. Remember, you are half of a couple, but you're still an individual!
- Play to Your Strengths
Early on, before moving in, decide who is going to do what around the house. Create a chore chart if needed! If you don't mind washing dishes but laundry makes you want to die, figure out how your partner feels about being in charge of laundry. He cooks breakfast, so you cook dinner. You buy the groceries, so he pays for Netflix. Relationships work best when you share responsibilities. Figuring out who is accountable for which chores or bills at the beginning will result in less fights later on.
- Discuss The Tough Stuff- Early On!
Money! If I had a dollar for every argument we've had about money, I'd be rich! All jokes aside, money is one of the biggest things that causes most, if not every, couple to fight. Discuss early on who is paying for what by creating a monthly or weekly budget and stick to it! Living with my boyfriend, neither of us wanted to cook for the first two months, and so we became addicted to Postmates. After it started emptying my savings, we realized we needed to actually make a budget to start buying groceries to make food at home. Cutting out delivery fees, taxes, and tips from all of our meals saved us a ton of money, which we could spend on fun date nights like ice skating and laser tag instead!
- Flexibility and Adaptability are Key
A relationship is a lot like a dialogue. It's important to check in and get feedback. Make sure to check in with each other every once in a while to see if your current routines, budget, sleep to party ratio, couple vs alone time balance, and everything else is working well for both of you. Again, communication is key! Ask yourselves if your current patterns are working or if they could be improved. Adjust schedules or budget items as issues arise or interests and priorities shift. Things tend to run more smoothly when you're in sync with each other.