Being in my twenties and in a relationship, I've found myself asking whether I am ready to live with my boyfriend or not. Am I moving too fast? Sending the wrong signals? Missing out on the joys of being single and independent? Am I going to hate him, or worse, will he hate me? There are enough questions swarming my head to make me want to just call off the whole thing.
But no, that's not how I handled it. When my boyfriend decided he was going to quit his secure job in Milwaukee to come find a job near me in New York, I did what came naturally. I welcomed my boyfriend into my apartment and played house for about a year. At that point, time was up and we decided to make another move (together) to Boston. Of course, coordinating our jobs was no small feat and he had to go a few months before me, but we both made it up there -- and into my parents' home.
Let me preface this by saying that I have only been dating my boyfriend for a little over two years. We started dating the day we met (basically!). But with a big move to a new city, nothing seemed more comfortable than going home to live with my family. Of course, my friends told me I was crazy. My peers silently judged. But to me, it was the only thing that made sense. What's wrong with saving some money while living with all the people you love?
Of course, my method to living with my boyfriend is different than most. But here are the things I learned in order to make living together work:
- Remember to love each other. While it can be easy to get caught up in rent and utility payments, chores and the routine of life, it's so important to remember to look at each other with the love you started with. Keep the TV off during dinner so that you can talk and connect. Make time to go out -- and actually get dressed up -- once in a while. See each other as more than a roommate.
- Talk about the future. This can be a tough balance because often, you don't want to rush into more than you can handle as a couple. However, it is important to know where each other stands. What do you want out of life? Are kids and marriage important? What are your expectations? What do you need to accomplish in life in order for it to have been a success? By addressing these questions early, you can prevent a lot of hardship later on. And as a bonus, it makes you feel even more connected when you can help each other accomplish your life goals.
- Stop being so controlling. Sometimes, the toilet seat is left up. Sometimes, he leaves the lights on in rooms that no one is using. Or he yells when he talks on the phone in the same room as me. He never does his fair share of chores. The list goes on. But at the end of the day, you have to decide whether you want to make it work or you want to be right. Just let it go!
- Remember to have a life. This is probably one of the hardest ones given that it becomes so easy to just stay in, stop trying and enjoy a glass of wine with a movie. But in order to keep things interesting, it's important to actually have a life. Do you really want the only thing you talk about to be work? No! You want to be able to talk about the cute movie you saw, the vacation that made you more aware of something or the new ideas you have because of a different experience. Yu want to stay interesting. And the only way to do so is to spend time outside of your comfort zone, outside of your little nest of a home.
- Create "Me" Time. With all of the above priorities, it will feel tough to find time just for yourself. But trust me, nothing is better than a night alone to veg out in your grossest pajamas and do exactly what you want to do. Your shows. Your food preferences. Your bed time. Everything about you. By allowing yourself this selfish time every now and then, you will be much more likely to compromise other times because you'll have felt like you got what you needed. My boyfriend and I joke that I often have "Miss Kate Days." On these specific days that I know I have nothing going on, I schedule to spend it just with myself, doing exactly what I please. This past Sunday, I went to the beach with a cooler and some notebooks so that I could spend the day writing by myself, in peace. It made me so happy and content that I was excited to come home and see my family and boyfriend again. By giving myself what I need, I am a much happier person and, as I'm often told, much better to be around.