What I Learned from Living with My Boyfriend for a Year During COVID-19

Living with someone is one thing, living with someone during a pandemic is an entirely different story. 

I’ve been living with my boyfriend since March 2020 when the pandemic first hit. It is weird to think that it has almost been a year since then. There are times when we enjoy each other’s company and there are times when we get on each other’s nerves. 

We live in a small apartment and we share everything together. We share a bedroom, a study, a bathroom and everything else. While it is a very cozy environment, it can be overwhelming seeing your partner every second of every day, especially when we are both doing online school and not going outside except for grocery shopping or runs. It is not fun having to kick your partner out of the room for a meeting or class, and it is definitely annoying being kicked out. 

Having to be around each other 24/7 — yes, you guessed it, conflict definitely arises — from tiny clashes like your partner talking to you too much when you’re just not in the mood to interact with them — to bigger arguments like you getting upset when your partner doesn’t do the chore they promised to do a few days ago.

Communication and forgiveness are the key ingredients in the recipes of successful cohabitating relationships. As repetitiveness as this may seem, all those advice about communication and forgiveness are relevant to most, if not all scenarios. 

Effective communication is a great first step, but the key is the timing of communication. Oftentimes, we don’t want to let people know we’re upset, either because we thought it is insignificant or embarrassing. But truth is, those little negative feelings can gradually snowball into stronger emotions that may hurt both people, especially when you are living with one another. Early communication could help avoid unnecessary arguments.

I am a good communicator, but I am terrible at communicating my negative emotions. It is difficult to express what is upsetting me as I often think those issues are trivial and didn’t want my partner to know. Sometimes, I want them to know without me having to spell everything out for them. However, at the end of the day, if they don’t get the “message:” they won’t, no matter how much time you give them. 

It is important to put your pride aside and communicate your feelings proactively to avoid similar conflicts in the future. It can be mentally draining to keep all your negative emotions to yourself until you hit your breaking point. 

Try to use “I” language instead of “you” language. If you’re feeling frustrated because your partner rarely does the dishes, tell them how you feel about the situation. “I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of dishes, could you try to help out more often?” instead of immediately letting your emotions take over and accuse your partner by saying “You never do the dishes.” By using “I” language, people get less defensive and are more willing to communicate. While this is not always easy (trust me, it feels really good to use “you” languages sometimes), trying to incorporate this into your everyday language can go a long way.

Apologies are also a big part of communication. Humility is important in relationships and is one of the driving forces. Don’t let pride get in the way. When you made a mistake, own up to it and apologize in a timely manner. This can save you a lot of time and trouble. The last thing you want to do while living with your partner is to wait for the other to apologize first. 

This brings me to my next point — forgiveness. Without forgiveness, it is hard for relationships to progress forward. Conflicts are normal, and it is important to address those conflicts and be willing to move on. Grudges can only scar the foundation of the relationship. 

Collegiettes, if you are also living with your partner during these uncertain times, know that it is normal to feel frustrated with your partner sometimes. Remember, you can be annoyed at your partner and still love them. Give my tips a shot and see where it leads!