I have lived with many people under different circumstances. I’m sure you - you mobile, unsatisfied, flighty Millennial - have too.
Until not so long ago, the only person I had not lived with was the person I was in a relationship with.
A hopeless romantic: I vowed never to live with someone out of ‘convenience’ or because it was cost effective. I also subscribed to popular hype that living with your partner was like, a huge step in the relationship, that like, could totally destroy it. Making it no longer about love, but about the dreadful banalities of crusty toothpaste in the sink and empty tubs of hummus unfairly left in the fridge only to deceive and disappoint.
Horror stories of friends fed these nightmares. Shared dogs which were ripped from fresh exes without a trace. Shared furniture lost in the demise. A general sentiment that an unsuccessful end to a de facto partnership is not worth the happy times spent cohabiting.
Despite all this hearsay, I kinda still clung to this weird fantasy that one boyfriend, one day, would get down on one knee and beg me to live with him because he couldn’t bare to spend a night without me. He would say no, no it wasn’t about the ridiculous New York rent prices, it was about waking up next to me each morning, even without makeup. That he couldn’t bare the thought of me carrying around spare undies and a fresh shirt in my handbag for sleepovers.
It is clear, that any boyfriend of mine daring to walk the ‘living together’ tightrope with me, had a tough line to walk.
In reality though, as with all things that ‘fall into place’, my current happy situation it just happened. There was no gallant cohabitation proposal, and I feel that none of our loving, exciting relationship has been crushed by the travesty of false placeholders in the fridge, or beard hair in the sink.
I’m not going to suggest I’m very experienced at all this adult-jazz of living together and playing at being grown-up. But I’ve gone from cynic to skeptic to a born again believer; it’s pretty nice to live with the person you love.
My 5 tricks to keep it nice:
Imbue your daily routine with thoughtfulness: figure out what you are best at doing/bringing to the relationship, and which of those things your partner appreciates. Do you love cooking? Does your partner love fresh flowers? Can you always remember to buy their favourite food at the supermarket? Scented candles? Handwritten post-its? I love you in lipstick on the mirror? Making dinner reservations? Making the bed? Suggesting they have friends over while you’re out? There is a treasure trove of small thoughtful things that are easy for you to do, that your partner will appreciate ten-fold. Do them.
Make sure you still spend time alone, even when you’re together in the house. I am so great at never shutting up and constantly touching my boyfriend whenever we’re at home. But I think it’s nice to remember, and be sure to designate, time and space to be alone, even when the other person is there. Your home is your sanctuary. Sometimes finding sanctuary will require you to be away from your partner.
Ignore things to a point, and cool it on the texts. This is general housemate etiquette. It shouldn’t change because your partner has kind of committed to take more of your shit than most other people. No notes (how those note-leaving housemates made my blood boil), disgruntled texts, or ‘caught-out’ photographic evidence. Sometimes you will need to have mundane discussions about mess etc with your live in partner. Have them face to face, and be sure to laugh.
Share the space. When you move in you probably have many bags full of things to integrate into your partner's house, or you will both have an array of goodies to squeeze into a new pad. What a wonderful challenge! And an opportunity to cleanse yourself of excess baggage: you don’t need two of everything. If you don’t love it, donate it. If you do love it, a place needs to be found for it, so everyone feels a sense of ownership over the space. This, I realise, maybe one of your love’s first big tests.
Get a cleaner. Really. Skip eating out just one time per week and get a cleaner. Never eat out, and get a cleaner. Think of it as an investment in your happiness, sanity and well-being. Think of it as insurance against couples counselling. That fresh sheet feeling is the real key to true love.