Ah, the bliss of living with your significant other.
Before moving in with my boyfriend Stephen I often fantasized about how awesome it would be to have a partner as a roommate. It turns out living with your partner isn't always as cute and fuzzy as movies would like to make it seem; it can come with some hilarious and very unexpected surprises. Based on my personal experience and those of my close friends who live with their partners, here's a list of ten things you might learn or experience when you move in with your partner:
1. You learn that the word "clean" has two different definitions.
When I had roommates in college I couldn't wait to live on my own or at least move in with someone I'd be more tolerant of. No way my boyfriend would leave dirty dishes in the sink or drink the last bit of my grape juice right? *stifles laughter*
Your significant other is not perfect. Odds are you have two versions of "clean" and one of you is probably the neat freak while the other may not be. A spotless house for me means I've swept, mopped, vacuumed and wiped everything in sight. A spotless house for him means there's nothing on the floor and the dishes are washed. By the way, he eats the last of my vanilla ice cream and doesn't tell me about it some days. *woooosah*
2. You don't always have to cook! (yay!)
A big benefit of living with Stephen has been having someone take care of dinner some nights. I remember how much I hated coming home from work and having to cook when I lived alone. Sometimes I was so tired I'd just opt for fast food. Now we share the responsibility of cooking.
Not to mention, living with your partner means having someone to pig out with you on those days where it's just necessary (minus the judgement!). Nothing better than a late night taco run when you don't have to do it alone.
3. There are two different definitions of what's "hot" and "cold"
I like it cold. Frigid cold. I need a blanket cold. So much so that I still sleep with a fan on despite having the A/C on as well. Who knew I'd end up with a partner who gets cold easily? We can't settle on a thermostat setting. Sometimes we argue because although I let him set the thermostat to a safe temperature for him, he still insists on coming into the living room while I'm working and turning the fan off.
Nothing is fair in love and thermostat war.
4. You have to learn to communicate in a different way than you ever have.
As my friend Lindsey told me, you have to learn how to share your space. You have to learn how to share responsibilities. If you aren't clear about things that bother you and why they bother you - you'll end up having a million little arguments about every little thing. For those of you moving in before marriage: you have to set CLEAR expectations. Yup! That means you need to discuss what's expected of who when it comes to chores, sex, bills, pets, etc.
Living with your partner gives you a clear idea of their love languages as well and requires you to adjust even more should your love languages end up being different. Stephen's love languages are Physical Touch and Quality Time. Mine are Words of Affirmation and Acts of Service. This requires constant effort on each of our parts.
5. You still have to learn their boundaries and communicate your own
Just because you're living with someone it doesn't mean you'll want to be around each other all day every day. Everyone needs some distance, and it's pretty easy to get that when you don't live together. Next thing you know you're sharing 800sq. feet and a cat and you have "nowhere to go" when that person pisses you off or you just want to be alone.
It's okay to decide on a space in your home or apartment to designate as your own or to pick a certain day to go out and do something by yourself. Just because you live with your partner doesn't mean you have to spend every waking moment with them. Living together doesn't mean you give up your boundaries and it doesn't mean your partner should have to give up theirs.
6. No matter how hard you try your pet becomes a child.
I adopted my cat Dash before Stephen and I moved back in together. He was adamant that he was going to hate having a cat and that he wouldn't get attached. As I'm writing this post, Stephen is cradling Dash like a baby and lecturing him about clawing the couch.
Having a pet is not 100% like having a human baby, but it does come with shared responsibilities and funny parent-like arguments. We debate on what's the best cat food to buy, or about Stephen being too rough when they play together. When we go on trips we have to find sitters and we even argue about which ones would be better. Also: the cat has learned how to open the bedroom door at night and sneak in between us while we sleep. If that isn't childlike? I don't know what is.
7. They begin to feel like an extension of you
As much as Stephen and I have our own lives, I still think about him dozens of times throughout the day. Living with him has made me grow accustomed to his presence, which includes sensing he's about to get home even without looking at the clock or hearing his keys. If he's later than usual I know without checking.
If he's sad or upset it affects my day too. When he's sick or headed to the doctor for any reason I find it hard to relax. Same deal when he's flying or traveling. You become so used to being with your partner that anything that might alter their day also alters yours.
You stop at a drive-thru for a milkshake? You're going to feel compelled to get something for them too. It's never just "you" anymore.
8. No matter how well you know them, you're going to discover some strange habit they have that you knew nothing about.
When I lived with my sister and brother-in-law a few years ago I found out that my brother-in-law has a habit of leaving socks everywhere. It was like a treasure hunt every day finding another random sock in some other part of the apartment.
Turns out people have quirks you know nothing about no matter how well you know them. Whether it's needing the toothpaste to be pushed to the top of the tube at all times or having a strange habit of filling up a cup of water all the way and only drinking half (hi Stephen), odds are you're going to discover strange and funny things about your partner that you never knew.
An important lesson you learn here is that everyone is different and everyone has different things that make them comfortable. Be patient with your partner and know that the first few months after moving in will consist mostly of adjusting to each other's habits.
9. People treat you like the married couple in the group, regardless of whether or not you're actually married.
It doesn't matter if you've tied the knot yet. Your friends and family are going to switch on the married couple treatment eventually. That means when there's an outing? Your invitation is for two. When they need relationship advice? You're suddenly Yoda. Everyone wants to know when you're getting married if you aren't, and even more people want to know when you're gonna have a baby. Signing a lease means you've got life handled and you're ready to pop some humans out apparently.
Some of our friends have jokingly referred to Stephen and I as "mom and dad" for so long that it's become our nickname for ourselves. Think "Bennifer" but Great Value. It's like our choice to move in together has suddenly aged us 40 years.
10. The toilet paper roll is always empty, but the laundry basket never is.
This one pretty much speaks for itself. The amount of laundry I do for just the two of us makes the thought of having kids some day terrifying. How many basketball shorts can one man go through in a week? You have no idea.
By the way, your relationship has reached new heights when you can wash another person's underwear and gym clothes and still want to be with them after. We've also had full blown debates about the importance of separating clothes when doing laundry. You'd be surprised how many people don't believe in washing whites on their own. It will make you question your entire existence. There have also been some pretty interesting rock-paper-scissors tournaments to decide who has to fold the clothes and put them away after.
I'm sure I never imagined that living with my partner would be this fun, interesting, or difficult. I learn something new about him every day and I learn even more about myself. You want to get a full blown review of what it's really like to be around you? Live with your significant other. If you agree or have even more to add on to this list, scroll down and comment on this post!
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