Be Ready To Redecorate
Living together means you need to make your new place feel like home to both of you. If you’re going to both be happy and feel comfortable in your new apartment, you have to make sure you both have a mutual sense of ownership.
This is especially true if you’re moving into her place or she’s moving into yours. If you want her to feel as though she actually has a place there instead of being a long-term guest, this means that you’re going to have to do more than just give her space on the book-shelf and room for a couple prints on the wall. You want your home to be a blend of your two personalities rather than one dominant theme with the occasional hint that maybe somebody else lives there too.
This ultimately means that you need to be ready for a great deal of compromise and sacrifice for the both of you. You may love that reclining lounge chair with the pulsating shiatsu massage and built in mini-fridge, but living together means having to give it up so that your girlfriend can put in her couch and ottoman combo instead. In exchange, as much as she loves Louis XII replicas, she has to be willing to compromise on the Shaker modern style furniture instead.
Have Your Own Space
Living together doesn’t mean that you have to be together 24-7, nor does it mean that you magically no longer require time on your own. Both of you should make a point to carve out your own space, especially if it means giving you some much-needed personal time.
In an ideal world, these would be literal, physical spaces that you could designate as your own private retreat; a man-cave, workshop, craft room or library/office that you could decorate and trick out however you want. Detached garages and spare bedrooms make for excellent personal spaces if you have them available.
However, the odds are good that your personal space may be as much in the mind as anything else – a willingness to be left alone watching TV in the living room or soaking away in the tub for a while without being disturbed is just as useful if space is at a premium. Having a place to retreat to in order to take a time out and just relax on your own can be invaluable, especially when the two of you feel as though someone’s always right on top of you at all times. The ability to have a brief escape from the stress of living together – and it will be stressful at times – can mean the difference between screaming matches and pre-marital bliss.
Have Your Own Lives
Similarly, you should maintain your own lives outside of the house as well. Living together doesn’t mean that you’re chained at the hip or forming one gestalt being with no outside interests or contact with the world around you. Both of you should be nurturing your social life outside of your relationship with your lover. Time spent with your friends helps build your external support system as well as helps continue to round you out as a person.
In practice this means that the two of you should make a point of having guys and girls’ nights, without feeling guilty that the other may not have plans. You’re both allowed to have a life outside of each other without having to feel obligated to check in constantly, or to call it an early night because the ol’ ball and chain is back home waiting for you. That way lies resentment and co-dependence, two fates you want to avoid.
Separate Bathroom Sinks
Trust me on this one. If it’s at all possible, you want his and her sinks and mirrors in the bathroom. Hell, aim for separate entire bathrooms if you can. This may well save your life and your relationship.
Be Prepared For Your Relationship To Change
Living together means that changes to your relationship are inevitable. Even couples who’ve dated for years prior to living together will go through the long and sometimes torturous routine of learning all of their honey-bunny’s little quirks and habits. The little things that were cute while you weren’t up in each other’s business all day and all night will become teeth-grindingly annoying. Snuggling together and waking up wrapped in each other’s arms starts to become less romantic when you’re sucking in his morning breath and he’s realizing that you fart like the brass section of a John Williams retrospective in your sleep. She’ll resent the pubic hair on the toilet rim, you’ll want to know why you suddenly don’t have any space on the bathroom sink. The little things that you used to be able to laugh off will cause you to pull your hair out as you resist the urge to blow your top.
That 24-hour sex-a-thon you were expecting will also dry up… likely sooner than you expect. When you’re living separately, you have to make time for sex; you only have so much time together so you have to make the most efficient (and squishy) use of it that you can. When you have all the time in the world, carving out naked time becomes that much less important. There will be nights when all the two of you will want to do is collapse on the couch, watch Castle and turn your brains off…. sex will be the last thing on your mind. Living together means that you will start to take sex for granted. It’s like having your favorite movie on all day, every day – it’s great at first, but eventually you’re going to get bored of it and then it will become the background noise of your life as you start focusing on everything else.
The survival of your relationship after you move in together will require effort on both of your parts. The two of you will have to put work in – not just to adjusting to your new life together but also keeping your relationship fresh and exciting. It’s entirely too easy to fall into patterns and routines and from there into boredom and stagnation. Even the little gestures that show that you care – unexpected flowers, surprising her by cooking her favorite meal, the occasional flirty, sexy text – can keep the spark going and keep the two of you from becoming roommates instead of lovers.
Don’t let the challenges intimidate you. Living together is a momentous step in the course of a relationship… but it’s one that can lead to some of the best times and fondest memories of your lives.