It seems like every movie that depicts a couple moving in together shows them unpacking in their cavernous new home filled with original details, playfully putting a dab of paint on each other’s noses, eating Chinese food (or sometimes pizza), and then having sex on the floor. If only we could all live such a charmed existence! But alas, there’s so much more to it than that. It’s not all fun and games, and it’s definitely not all sexy. So here are our top tips for getting through the process with your relationship and your sanity intact:
1. Do a self-evaluation about what you’re like to live with
It’s so easy to convince ourselves we’re a dream to live with when we live alone. But once you move in with someone, all of your bad habits and strange ways will come to light—oh will they ever. So thinking about it and talking about it in advance can be helpful, even though of course some things won’t come up until you’re actually in the situation. Do you know that you tend to be messy? That you don’t even notice a sink full of dishes? Or on the other hand, do you know you can’t stand mess and will take someone’s fork out of their hand while they’re still eating to go wash it? Better to discuss now than once you’re already living together.
2. Divide up household tasks
Work this out before it becomes a problem. This is a huge source of conflict for lots of couples who live together, especially if one person tends to be more focused on keeping things clean and tidy than the other. Come up with a list of tasks that need to be done that you can both agree to, and then divide them up equitably. (And by the way, equitably does not mean that you each get the same number of tasks, but that you both feel you’re doing a fair amount of tasks you dislike.)
3. Talk through how you’ll handle time alone
Having time together is obviously super important, but having time to yourself is equally if not more important. The key is balance. Talk about how you’ll manage time together versus time apart as well as how you’ll handle the need for alone time at home (either for some solo playtime or for any other reason).
4. Discuss the finances
Figure out how you’re going to divide up shared costs, like rent, groceries, and stuff you do for fun. Separate bank accounts, a shared bank account, both separate and shared bank accounts—the only wrong way to do this is the way that you aren’t happy with.
5. Think about how you would handle a breakup
Breaking up when you live together is a whole different beast. You may as well be getting divorced. So while it may seem sinister to talk about this right now, if things go south, you’ll be thanking your past self. What would a breakup look like? Can either one of you afford the rent on your own or would you both need to move out? Are you buying furniture together and if so how will that work?
6. Get right with your birth control
For a lot of people, living together means more opportunities for sex. If the type of sex you’re having could lead to pregnancy, but you’re not looking to get pregnant, make sure you’re on a method of birth control that really works for you and is sustainable. And check out our reminders app if you’re having trouble remembering your birth control.
P.S. Planning a road trip? Check out our essential tips for making sure your relationship survives those long hours in the car together.