Almost exactly a year ago, Brad and I signed a lease for our first apartment together and within a couple of weeks we were completely moved in! Prior to moving in together we had been dating for almost two years, our first year of dating was in college and then after graduation we moved back to the Bay Area, which is my hometown, but it was a new place to Brad. We decided well before we moved to San Francisco, that we would not move in together right away. I moved back in to my parents house to save money and Brad moved in with one of his friends from college and it worked out great for us. In hindsight, I’m so glad we waited quite awhile to move in together, because for both of us it felt like a big step for us as a couple and I know we moved in for all the right reasons, rather than out of convenience.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect from moving in together. I have heard so many people say that moving in together fundamentally changes the dynamic of a relationship and I don’t know if I would necessarily agree or disagree with that statement. When it comes down to, I think it really depends on the couple, since every relationship is unique. For us, and for me as an individual, living together hasn’t changed mine and Brad’s relationship, so much as it has just made me more aware of things I wasn’t aware of prior to cohabiting. I’m going to share two of the things I’ve learned, and two things Brad has learned from moving in together.
Time By Yourself Really Is Important ~ I am just about as quintessentially introverted as you can get. I love my friends and family, but I need time by myself to recharge and feel like I can put my best foot forward when I am with others. Besides being an introvert, I genuinely love having time to myself and I feel very comfortable in my own company, which is something I’ve worked really hard at over the years. When you live with a partner it can be tempting to spend all your time together, however I found it really important to advocate for when I needed some time to be on my own, in order to be a good partner. Spending time by myself also made me feel like
Prioritize Being A Couple First and Foremost ~ This one sounds pretty obvious but I think the easiest trap to fall into when moving in with a significant other is becoming complacent, and that can definitely change the dynamic of the relationship for the worst. Before Brad and I moved in together we spent far less time together just by default and because of that when we did spend time together we made the most of it. Once you move in with a partner, it’s so easy to put off doing things like date night because you have so much time to spend together built into your everyday lives. This definitely took some adjusting for us, because we are both so busy, but, to me, it was one of the most important things to come to grips with after we moved in.
Always Being Aware of Your Impact On Your Shared Space ~ After living with four guys (and a dog) in college, cleanliness was not always the priority in our household. However, moving in with a partner made me realize how much keeping up on housework regularly not only helps in the long run, in terms of not having to do hours-long cleaning sessions later, but it also is a nice thing to do to show your partner that you care about your space together. Because we live in a one-bedroom apartment, there literally is not a lot of room for messiness, and when the place gets messy we both feel it. Doing the little things like cleaning up after yourself or making a little extra effort to keep our shared space in good condition has such a tremendous effect on the relationship and keeping household chores equal and manageable. It also saves us a lot from bickering about things that are really not worth bickering over!
Delegation is Key ~ One of the things that Hannah and I worked on before moving in together was getting on the same page about expectations of how we would manage the more mundane parts of life, such as cleaning, finances, food shopping, etc. Again, having the discussion before you’re in the stressful parts of moving in kept us from getting in unnecessary arguments. Luckily, we are on the same page about most things like finances, which are the root cause for most relationship problems, so there wasn’t much to work out but having the conversation ahead of time made both of us feel a lot more at ease in the midst of moving. Instead of splitting every little thing, we decided to delegate both expenses and chores to each other to make things as even as possible and so we always know what we’re responsible for.