The 7 Things You Learn Your First Year Living with a Guy
It’s really funny how things can change in a year’s time. You can move in with a guy, have the time of your life figuring out the whole cohabitation thing and maybe even get engaged. Hey, it happened to me!
Yeap, in October 2011, J moved into my one bedroom apartment in Hoboken. We had been dating for two years at the time and were both ready to take the next step in our relationship–a step neither of us had taken with anyone else before. And here I am, a little over a year later, engaged this past October and now I’m planning our wedding.
I remember sitting down to write about “boyfriend-proofing” my apartment right before J moved in. I was so nervous about hiding my tampons and trying to make as much room for him as possible in the closet. Oh, how naive I was! You see, those boyfriend-proofing tips only last a couple months into living with your guy. You can primp and hide your feminine products, but when you’re comfortable together you form brand new habits (and you’re both OK with the habits you didn’t know about before).
You learn a lot about one another during the first year living together. Some things are going to happen whether you like it or not. Forget the boyfriend-proofing and forget the planning and just enjoy your new living arrangement. Oh, and you should probably keep these seven things in mind, too:
1. Stop hiding the not-so-sexy-but-totally-necessary things. I know I originally told you to keep the romance in your relationship by packing away some of the less man-friendly feminine products and your granny panties, but you know what? Your partner knows about that stuff already. And once you share a place together, he’s going to be going through the same bathroom cabinets as you (re: no matter how far back behind your hairspray and perfume you push the acne cream he’s going to see it eventually). If you’re mature enough to live with your guy, you’re mature enough to lay it all out on the table. Now that doesn’t mean you have to walk around with hair removal cream on your upper lip, but a deep-cleansing masque? Go for it. One night over the summer J and I even pampered our feet together. We used the Ped Egg, applied super-moisturizing lotion, and slipped on thick socks before bed. It was so nice to do it in front of him and not wonder if I was grossing him out. Rough feet do not a relationship break!
2. You’re going to accumulate way more stuff than you ever even imagined. When J moved in, I gave up half of my closet and a couple drawers for his stuff. I’m still learning to share my space when it comes to the clothes situation, that’s the least of my worries. Did you know that when another person moves in, they bring with them all of their stuff? Not just some boxers and a toothbrush. It’s true! Right now we’re still hiding a box of J’s books behind a chair in our living room because we haven’t gotten around to rearranging the bookshelf. Our fridge is packed with leftover beer from a Beer of the Month Club gift. Our kitchen is full of pots and pans and cups that we’ve combined. Let me get to the point: just when you think you had too much stuff, you’re going to get more stuff. My tip? Stay neat and organized. And if you’re in a smaller space like us city-dwellers, I’d get a storage unit pronto.
3. One of you is going to be the slob in the relationship and one of you is going to be the neat freak. You’re both used to living on your own or with other roommates and that means you are used to different routines. In our house, I am a big ole slob. J was used to cleaning his apartment little by little every day and I would wait and do a huge thorough cleaning when the mood struck. According to J, this was the biggest adjustment for him. “I’ve never seen someone tear through a closet at 7:30 in the morning like you do.”
4. Don’t sweat the small stuff. He always puts the pillows on the bed in the wrong order. His dry cleaning piles up on the chair. The entire bathroom is always wet after he finishes brushing his teeth. So what? You can rearrange the pillows, he’ll take his clothes to the cleaners and you can wipe down the counter in a few seconds. He’s got his annoyances and you’ve got ‘em too (and I definitely have way more than J!) but they’re not dealbreakers and not worth fighting over. “Most couples fail at moving in together because they get mad about not washing a glass,” says J. “I think you just need to keep your eye on what’s important and respect the fact that you are sharing a space now–not because you have to but because you WANT to.” And if you find yourself fighting over this sort of stuff again and again, it’s time to talk to your partner about calling a truce or reevaluate the cohabitation situation.
5. If it’s meant to be, you’ll feel comfortable right away and pretty constantly. Is there anything better than spending a lazy Sunday in your pajamas on the couch watching TV? Who cares if you didn’t shower or brush your teeth until well past noon. You should be able to be a complete bum or domestic diva or insane workout freak or dancing fool in the presence of your partner… and neither of you should think twice about it. When you’re at home, you should be who you are. And the person you’re with should be OK will all forms of you. But maybe just a quick rinse of some mouth wash, kay?
6. Actively working on your relationship, your sex life, and the passion is key. “You have to keep in mind that this is your partner, not just your roommate,” says J. Try not to slip into a too comfortable routine by planning date nights, trying new positions and making the effort to spice things up. Even after a year living with J, I close the door while getting dressed when I want to surprise him with a sexy outfit before going out on Saturday night. You have to find new ways of creating mystery when you have less privacy in your space. Oh, and take it from me: date nights and girls’ nights will be appreciated way more. You’re going to love the nights away from the DVR with your man and really love seeing your girls (no boys allowed: your guy will be there when you get home).
7. You’re really going to get to know each other. The good, the bad, the up-all-night stomach viruses: you’re going to be with your new roomie for it all. You may see a side of him you hadn’t before and you’re quickly going to realize if it’s a side you like or not. If you’re still digging him, you’ll learn how to adjust to fill both of your needs. J put it well when he told me, “the biggest emotional thing I learned from living together was how to be a good partner for you and what you need from me. There is no door to close or phone to hang up if we get into a fight or you had a tough day at work and I didn’t. I learned how to be there for you and give you what you need from me so that you know that I’m there and on your team. Even if we don’t always agree on things, I’ve also learned how to express my opinions so you understand my feelings as well without being ‘prickly’.” You’ve got to love and respect the person you’re with and accommodate them and their feelings (and vice versa or it won’t work).
People always say that if you and you partner are the real deal, moving in won’t change things. But you know what? It does. And it should. If nothing changes at all–good or bad or big or small–from taking a major step with the person you love, I’d be worried. Even if that “change” is just feeling more love and trust, that says a lot about your relationship. So good luck with your first year of cohabiting… and keep me updated with your stories!