Caroline Moss is an author and host of the podcast "Gee Thanks, Just Bought It," which helps people find the products they need to make life easier, better and more productive. Now with this column, "Asking for a Friend," she's helping people with the advice they need to make life easier, better and more productive. To submit a question, email us at email@example.com.
My boyfriend and I are moving in together in a month. I am nervous. How should I prepare?
Congratulations on this big life milestone! Moving in with a significant other is a big, important step, and like all big important steps, it's normal that you’re feeling a little nervous. I don’t know how long you have been together, but in my experience, the first few weeks of cohabitation can feel like the first few weeks of dating. You’re on your best behavior and so are they. All of your weird stuff — the stuff you do alone when no one is watching — is about to have an audience. You’re going to learn that you have different ideas on how to load the dishwasher. You’re going to have different opinions on how and when the bed gets made. One of you will adopt a space in your bedroom or living room and use it to stack piles of laundry instead of just putting them away in the dresser. One of you will always forget to turn off the lights when you leave a room.
All of your weird stuff — the stuff you do alone when no one is watching — is about to have an audience.
It’s going to be a little weird until you hit your rhythm. When I moved in with my boyfriend (now my husband), I had come from living alone. Even though I had shared a space with roommates earlier in my 20s, I had been able to swing one year of living on my own prior to us moving in together. My favorite part of living alone was that no matter the state I left my apartment, it was exactly the same when I got home. I loved that, and that went away. And I mourned it by freaking out — mostly internally, but sometimes I couldn’t hide it. In the morning when I'd leave for the day, the apartment would be clean. When I got home, there would be some dishes in the sink or socks on the floor. Of course, it wasn’t the end of the world (and I am definitely guilty of leaving my clothes strewn about), but that initial feeling of, like, "OMG, I am sharing a space with someone again," left me feeling a little panicked and overwhelmed.
Those moments often will make you immediately feel like you made a mistake and that you’re not meant to be together because your boyfriend doesn’t know how to fold a clean towel properly. While the towel folding thing is annoying, it doesn’t mean you need to flee. But know that the feelings of wanting to — especially in the beginning! — are very normal and you should expect to have them from time to time. Remember: Your behavior might also be annoying to your boyfriend! It’s growing pains.
If you're looking for concrete ways to prepare beyond the old “keep calm and carry on,” I recommend having an exit plan when you’re feeling like you need some alone time. Yes, we’re in a pandemic so you can’t as easily hang out with a friend or go see a movie, but you can mask up and go for a walk. I also recommend making sure you have doors to close and a place where you can be by yourself while your boyfriend is by himself in another part of the apartment. I also understand that some apartments don’t allow this space, so just be honest and communicate about what you need and ask him to do the same. And when he does, don’t be defensive. The truth is that you are both going to have little quirks that annoy the other. It’s fine. We’re human.
Living together is really fun. I know it feels stressful because it’s new, but all of the positives will very quickly outweigh the hiccups. You get to hang out everyday! You don’t have to make plans about when you’re going to see each other next or which place you’ll stay. You will also start to learn more about each other and connect in a deeper way because you’ll be building a shared space together.
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