My girlfriend and I decided to move in together in December of 2020; it was the first time I had ever lived with a partner, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was living with roommates at the time, so she moved her belongings into my room and we lived in that space together. Luckily, she is an astounding minimalist and didn’t have much to bring – it might’ve been trickier if she brought more than just her essentials as we were adjusting my room to accommodate two people instead of just one. Nevertheless, moving in together and having a shared space 24/7 was a big change for both of us. We learned a lot about each other throughout the beginning of this journey, and we worked together to create a living system that sustained harmony in our relationship. The following are the most valuable points I’ve gathered about moving in and living with your partner for the first time.
Before You Move In
Make sure you’ve spent a lot of time together where you’ve been stuck with each other all day, every day: think road trips, getaways or (since it’s relevant in the age of COVID) quarantining. This uninterrupted time together will help you gauge each other’s habits, quirks and moods that you may not notice otherwise. Are your standards of cleanliness the same? Are you early risers or night owls? Can you handle your partner when they get hangry or moody? Simply put, you have to be around each other for a good chunk of time to make sure you can stand being around each other all the time. If you clicked on this article because you’re basically living at each other’s places and it would make sense to just have one shared place, then you’re probably in the clear. In addition, have conversations about money and budgets. How will you split up paying rent and/or utilities? Will you each pay 50/50, or will you contribute a different amount based on both of your incomes? Find a system that works for both of you and stick with it. It’s important to discuss finances when shopping for a place; you might have it in your budget to pay $1700 per month for rent, but if your partner’s budget is only $1500, you’ll have to make some compromises. Have candid discussions about your expectations, making sure to listen to and make accommodations for each other.
Create a Shared Note on Your Phones
The question, “What do you want for dinner tonight?” is going to become your enemy quicker than you may realize, especially if you’re both indecisive and frequently offer up answers like, “I don’t care,” or, “Whatever you want.” You have two separate schedules to work with now and debating what you want to eat at 7PM every evening isn’t functional (speaking from experience here!). Create a shared note on your phone where you can collaborate on grocery lists, meal planning and links to recipes. My girlfriend and I like to start the week by looking up recipes we’d like to try (one for each night of the week), adding the ingredients to our grocery list and then going grocery shopping. This way, we have specific options to choose from – we are never without ideas on what to eat and we know we have all the ingredients to make whatever we choose. This tip has saved me countless times and I recommend it for all couples.
Sync Up Your Calendars
Maybe you work at inconsistent times; maybe you have late classes; maybe you need to go to your hometown that one weekend for your cousin’s birthday. Whatever it is, a shared calendar that you can both add to will be essential in avoiding those bewildered “Where are you?” texts. It saves you both any unexpected surprises and helps you stay informed on what’s going on throughout each other’s weeks. You can use the Calendar app on your phone or Google Calendar.
If one or both of you are introverts, then you may find constantly living in a shared space a little tricky. Odds are you won’t be living in a huge mansion with tons of rooms to hide away and recharge in. Nevertheless, it’s important to have a space in your new home where you can go to be by yourself, even if it’s just the balcony or your favourite chair in the corner of the living room. Talk with each other to establish how you will navigate giving each other space if you need it. Maybe your partner needs 20 minutes of quiet time after they come home from work or school, or maybe you want an hour per week to be alone and meditate. And that’s okay! Just make sure to keep each other in the loop by having conversations about your boundaries and expectations for your privacy.
Communicate… A Lot
Listen. You’re going to get in fights and you can’t avoid your partner or your problem. It’s not like you’re arguing over text, and you can just put your phone on silent mode until you’re ready to talk with your partner again! You need to know how to resolve issues calmly, how to compromise and how to empathize with your partner’s perspective. Approach conflicts with the mindset that it’s you and your partner versus the problem, not you versus your partner. If you want to learn how to deal with conflicts in your relationship in a healthy and productive way, read this (https://www.hercampus.com/school/wilfrid-laurier/how-to-argue-with-your-partner/). It’s also helpful to have a weekly check-in with your partner regarding the status of your relationship. Ask each other these questions on a regular basis: is there something I did this past week that you liked and want more of? Is there something I did that you didn’t appreciate? Has there been anything on your mind or bothering you lately? What can I do to make you feel more loved next week? My girlfriend and I ask each other these questions every Wednesday night – knowing that we have a weekly chat scheduled helps us to prepare answers and gives us an opportunity to discuss things. It’s a very useful exercise and I highly recommend it!
Keep Dating Each Other
I don’t mean “stay in a relationship” by this; hopefully, if you’re planning to move in together, you intend to remain a couple! I mean keep going on dates, flirting with each other and pursuing romance. Simply existing in each other’s space doesn’t necessarily constitute spending quality time together. You’re a couple, not just roommates! Make a point to block time out of your week to go on dates where you can give each other your full attention. Try out restaurants in your new neighbourhood, go explore the hiking trails or stay in and have a painting night. However you like to spend time together, be sure to prioritize it. Just because you live together doesn’t mean the mystery and flirting has to die!
Combine Your Spaces
If you’re moving into a really limited space, you may need to get creative with how you store your belongings. Hidden storage like an under-the-bed organizer will help keep your bedroom looking clean and free of clutter. If you don’t have much closet space, slotted hangers will help maximize the number of clothes you can fit into your closet. If your building allows it, consider adding shelves along your walls. Storing bulky items like textbooks, journals or random trinkets on shelves will keep maximize your floor space and save you tripping over drawers all the time. Geometric shelves are super trendy right now and will provide functionality while giving you that aesthetic look.
All in all, moving in with my partner was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The tips above have helped us to have a smooth and optimal experience living together, and I hope that you and your partner will benefit from them as well. Good luck!