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Sex + Relationships

Moving In with My S.O.: The Good, The Bad, & Everything In Between

I started 2020 in a months-long apartment search, still unable to find anything in my price range. Then, quarantine forced me to shelter in place for months on end with my boyfriend of two years. Having an illness-prone mother prevented me from going home, so I took shelter with my boyfriend, his mother, and his younger brother. During this time, I was fortunate enough to save up enough money to afford first and last month's rent and find a place in a pretty decent neighborhood. The only problem was I didn't want to quarantine alone. After spending several months quarantining together, my boyfriend and I decided to take the leap and move in together. It’s now five months later and I'm surviving... and you can too!

Deciding to live with your S.O. is a huge step. First, you have to find out if this move is best for the BOTH of you. It’s important to have this conversation before making definite plans. Ask questions like: Is it in a comfortable price range? Will you be splitting the bills equally? What happens to the apartment if you get into a big fight or, worse... break up? These questions might seem obvious at first glance but you really do need to think about them. Living with a partner can be super rewarding, but it can also be very challenging. It’s more than just sharing and decorating a space together; you are now committing to sharing your time, belongings, finances, and energy with another person.

After moving in, there are some things you and your partner should keep in mind:

Alone time is still important

For one, it is more than OK to need “me time.” It's actually a necessity for any healthy relationship. We see the couples in movies and on TV, and yes, they seem pretty happy, but what these movies aren't showing us is the time people take for themselves, even as couples.

Having time alone is more important than you might think. To be honest, I was terrified to move in with someone because I value my alone time so much and I thought living with someone took that time away from me. After living with my person, I realized that I get the best of both worlds. I can have all the alone time I need and he is more than OK with that. He encourages me to take all the time I need for myself, especially after a long day at work. (Get you someone who encourages “me time” & self-care!) 

Every day after work, I take about two or three hours to myself just to unwind and spend quality time alone. My boyfriend has come to expect this, and he even brings me a glass of wine to relax. This is so important because all day when I’m at work I constantly stress about this or that; after work is the time where I have a chance to relax and forget about the tough day I've had. If I lived alone, I would call my boyfriend and rant about co-workers or my workload for the day, but now that we are living together, he knows the stress I am carrying, so I don't necessarily have to tell him. He can see the stress on my face and in my tone of voice, and that's enough. Sometimes you need a moment to yourself to reflect on the day you've had without talking to anyone. 

Communication is key

But that does not mean you shouldn't be communicating! Communication is a two-way street. We've all heard the phrase “communication is key,” and that's because it really is the key to a healthy relationship. The most effective way I learned to communicate with my partner, now that we are cohabitating, is couple’s therapy. This is truly a must. And now you can do couple’s therapy via Zoom or text! There are so many apps and websites that have developed post-COVID that are really helping people. The best part is, in some cases your insurance would cover it, but even if they don’t, many of these sites start as long as $45 a week (and if you’ve ever been to therapy before you know this is a steal!). If therapy isn’t your thing, there are sites that offer activities that could help pinpoint the problem areas. Even enlisting the help of an unbiased friend or relative can help solve minor issues. 

Signing up for therapy is definitely a decision to make together and should be thought about thoroughly, but I completely stand behind it. When you decide to live together, you are combining two separate lives into one, no matter how much time you've spent together beforehand. No matter how happy and healthy a couple you are, there are bound to be snags along the road, so couple’s therapy is an excellent option for effectively communicating your concerns and problems.

I've learned a lot of things in couple's therapy, one thing being that you can love someone but not like them at the same time. This might seem like a joke, but I've learned that you aren't always going to like your partner even though you love them. Like with all roommate situations, things you might not have noticed about your S.O. before will become apparent, and will get on your nerves: the way they chew, how they brush their teeth,  and how they don't always wash the dishes. The list can go on and on. And that's OK! They might annoy you with the way they leave clothes lying around or how little they clean. It's totally normal to find these things annoying. These little quirks are what makes them them, and you have a few of your own that I'm sure they find annoying as well. It’s important to learn how to accept those parts of each other.

Like living with any kind of roommate, chores will be something you argue about. Here’s a suggestion: write out the chores that have to be done daily, weekly, and monthly, and each of you select what chores you will do that week or month, then next month, switch it up. If you went grocery shopping this week, have them go the following week and so forth. 

Sharing is also a huge thing you learn when living with someone, platonic or not. If you aren’t keen on sharing, having any kind of roommate will be hard. If you had the idea that only same-sex roommates borrow your clothes, please think again. I grew up in a large family. So big that sharing is something I do not think about because it is second nature to me. However, my boyfriend only has a younger brother. That's it. So sharing isn’t as casual to him. I would take his things and not give it a second thought while he would appreciate me asking first… this common misunderstanding happens among roommates all the time, so please don’t think that living with your partner will be different.

With that being said, you’ll have to pick your battles. Not everything is worth a fight. Sometimes it is easier to simply agree to disagree than to argue over the little things. Let it go. They forgot to take the garbage out after you reminded them for the third time today. Let. It. Go. There will be bigger and more important things to fight about. When big things happen, little things like garbage and video games will seem less important. Ask yourself, “Is this worth a fight?” Nine times out of 10, it's not.

Do it for the right reasons

Lastly, make sure you're moving in together for the right reasons. Cohabitating with a partner is a big step that you should not take lightly. This decision should be thought all the way through and discussed at length. This is the time where you share your concerns, finances, what you expect out of them, and what you need. Having everything laid out on the table is the best way to go because everything will come up one way or another. It's crucial to start this new life together on the same page. Ask yourself and your partner, “Why are we moving in together?” If the main reason you're deciding to live together is based on convenience (i.e., you want to move out of your parents' house or your current roommate is crazy), I would consider other alternatives first, like getting a place alone, finding a new roommate or switching jobs for a higher salary. You want to make sure that you're moving in together because it feels like it’s the natural next step in your relationship, and you're absolutely ready to take your relationship to this level. 

Moving in together is only worth it if it is right for the both of you. This could make or break a relationship. Lucky for me, we are going strong because of this move but that only happened because we worked hard on it. So sit down and be honest with each other. Share how you’re feeling, do a pro and cons list if that’ll help, but talk. That’s the most important part. Keep talking until you’ve come to a decision one way or another because ultimately the goal is that you both are happy whether that means living together or not. 

Latoya Settles

Old Westbury '20

Latoya Settles studied Media and Communications at SUNY College at Old Westbury. Her passions are reading, writing, anything self-care related, and fighting for women's rights. In her free time, you can find her doing yoga, reading YA romance novels, obsessing over The Office or blogging. She loves empowering women through her writing and social media presence. Follow Latoya's journey at www.survivingmytwenties.com
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