The Reality Of Living With Your Significant Other

A lot of us have been in a relationship where we've been too blinded by the constant fluttering butterflies and the imaginary floating heart-halos over our heads to see that, maybe, living with your S/O isn’t actually a Disney fantasy come true, but rather a big, fat nightmare. Maybe you’ve never been in a relationship, because you’re choosing to love yourself first, or you’re a hopeless romantic and can’t find your Prince Charming or simply because you don’t even know how to navigate life by yourself yet—let alone accompanied by some random person you’re expected to devote a lot of love and time and care to. 

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for about three and a half years, and at this point, it’s pretty safe to say that I know what I’m getting myself into—but it wasn’t always that way. About 2 years ago, my boyfriend and I made the edgy and bold decision to go to college together. Despite the fact that his family was moving across the country to the west coast, and I would be staying in the Midwest, we plunged into a reality that we set up for ourselves: the “long-run”—whether we would prevail or not was left for the universe to decide. 

Our first year was like most first people’s first-year experience at college: really weird and really new. I had originally chosen a dorm on a separate campus than him, in an attempt to maintain my alone time and personal space. This idea was cut short by my ever-so-strange random roommate, who decided that after only two weeks of living together, wearing my underwear was an acceptable ice breaker and bonding tactic. Needless to say, I moved out that same week, and the only room available for at least another month would be either in the same building as my boyfriend, or the one next to his. In an attempt to still preserve my personal space, I chose the building next to his. This is when everything changed. 

My new roommate was nice, but it seemed like she got used to not having anyone around, and we never got very close with each other. The other issue was that she never left the room—like, ever. One or two classes a day during the morning would keep her busy, but other than that, she didn’t even eat down at the dining hall, she ordered every meal to the room and wasn’t involved in any sort of activity, let alone make any friends. This made me feel very claustrophobic in my own room like I never had alone time, which is one thing I sought after so greatly. I would take multiple showers a day, reserve study rooms at the library for only myself or even inhabit my boyfriend’s single room when he was in class to find time to myself. 

Eventually, it got to the point where I was full-fledged living in his dorm rather than my own. He had enough space to enjoy the luxury of a twin-sized bed and still have room for a futon, which gave me a sort of space to call my own. Even passing this old dorm building now gives me a sort of anxiety because of how much crap went down there. From fights over whose pencil was left on the ground, to an almost break up over something we still don’t fully understand, it was an experience to say the least...one that I don’t think I’d be willing to go through again, but one that prepared and strengthened our relationship more than words can explain. 

Come year two, and the three months of summer we spent apart hit us in a way we didn’t think it would. Almost 3,000 miles in between us after an entire school year in a 15x15 foot dorm room is a big change. We were exposed to quite literally every side of each other: the good, the bad, and the really ugly. So, going into a second year fresh off of not seeing each other for a while was another strange adjustment. This time, we both had our own houses and got to choose our roommates. Nevertheless, we still spent the majority of our time with each other. 

Whether it be him at my house or me at his, it seemed to be the same thing, just with a lot less arguing. Maybe it was because we’d gotten all of our dumb issues out the first time around, or just that we had learned our lesson on what’s worth the energy to fight over, but we were doing much better this time. With increased access to normal life, we were engaging in the things we used to do together in high school that we couldn’t have done in the dorm, like cooking together (we love to cook). It felt so much better than the previous year because it was like we were back to a normal life together, but we also still had a lot of room left to grow and adapt to this new lifestyle. 

Our sophomore year ended on a wildly greater positive note than the previous year, and through that experience, we grasped the concept of what it is really like to shack up together. This led to him and his family asking me if I would consider spending a majority, if not all, of my summer living with them in San Diego. This all sounds like a dream until you realize the cost of living. They live in a two-bedroom, two bath house, with a finished single-car garage that they’ve transformed into a third bedroom with two extra beds for when my boyfriend goes home and for when I or anyone else visits. Meaning, that for however long they asked me to stay out there, I’d be back inhabiting a tiny room with him, possibly hurting the growth we’d worked so hard to make together. I decided to say yes and bought a one-way plane ticket.

I knew I couldn’t spend the entire summer there: I still had events, trips, and so on to deal with back at home, plus, I’m away from my family all year round, so I wanted to be able to spend time with my them as well. I decided I would spend two months in California, and a month and a half at home in Ohio. This experience was very different than any I had been in with my boyfriend previously. Yes, we were back living together in a small room in a new place, but this time it was with his family, who I adore. I wasn’t sure how this would change the situation, seeing as how his family is very laid back, all I knew was that it was yet another living situation we hadn’t had together yet. 

Those two months came and went in the blink of an eye, and I can tell you I learned quite a lot. Having very little personal space again, any issue, whether it be financial, family, life or anything else random related, was gone through with each other rather than by ourselves. Not only did we have a small space together, but when you left that space was another small space with his family living there. This left little to no room to be by ourselves or to struggle through something by yourself, or to grieve by yourself or to grow by yourself. It was like everything we did was together, or we knew about everything that both of us were up to or going through at any given moment. It was also hard because he had a car but I did not. If he felt overwhelmed he could leave for a drive, or go somewhere for the day to think. If I felt some sort of way I was stuck. I could walk somewhere, but they live on a small island off of downtown, and the only way on or off is by the 2.1-mile long bridge connecting them to the mainland. 

I’m speaking a lot about the struggles we experienced by living together, not because we didn’t have good times, but because I feel as though living with your significant other is oftentimes glorified as if that’s the be-all-end-all for happiness in a relationship. This simply isn’t the case. You shouldn’t move in with someone until you feel as though you’re really ready to dive deep into that person’s being: the good, the bad and the really ugly. 

I think this experience opened up both of our eyes about our relationship a lot more than we ever thought it would. Through the experience we’ve shared living in such close quarters, to living in a new and exciting environment with what seems like no rules to living across the country with each other and his family, we definitely came out on top.