Thinking about cohabitating with a partner? Congrats and welcome to like one of the most potentially stressful experiences ever (besides watching Game of Thrones penultimate episodes every season). To help you make it to that shared space without murdering each other, we spoke to some real life couples how've already waged this war, now learn from their battles.
Prepare to give away a lot of your stuff
That ratty recliner you’ve had since college? Your framed print of King Kong riding a dinosaur? All those DVD box sets that you have despite not owning a DVD player? Yeah, it all needs to go. There’s just not going to be room for everything and you both need to compromise. “We went through all our stuff together and decided what could come and what could go,” says Jill, 32. “When we both agreed that we hated each other’s couches, we decided to sell them and get a new one together.”
Be honest -- and fair -- about your money situation
If you don’t know how much they make, you’ll soon find out. You’ll also find out if they have good or bad credit or if they owe money to "some guys". If one of you makes a lot more than the other and you want to live a certain lifestyle, figure out how to divide the rent and bills in a way that works. “My boyfriend pays two-thirds of the rent, because he wanted an extra bedroom and he could afford it,” says Caitlin, 32.
Have your together -- and also separate -- TV shows
You just can’t watch The Knick, Making a Murderer, The Walking Dead, Drunk History and Rectify together. Your DVR will explode if you wait until you’re both home at the same time to watch all those shows. “We have three weekly shows that we absolutely will not watch without each other,” says Brian, 29. “The rest, we can watch on our own whenever we have time. And we make sure we don’t delete anything until we’re sure the other one has seen it.”
Take turns deciding what to have for dinner
Here’s a look at a conversation every couple has every night: “What do you want for dinner?” one of you asks. Followed by, “I don’t know. What do you want?” No one ever knows! And then you spend two hours throwing out random ideas (Indian?? Thai? Tacos?). By 9, both parties are annoyed and you end up eating cereal out of the box in separate rooms. “We were so tired of the nightly battle that we decided to alternate nights, giving one person the ultimate say -- no matter what,” says John, 33.
Get ready to see some gross stuff
Yeah, it’s gonna happen. “You just need to try to unsee it all as fast as possible,” says Anthony, 33.
Talk about next steps
“I thought we’d be getting engaged within a few months of moving in together,” says Danielle, 28. Four years later, they still weren’t engaged and resentment set in. Make sure you’re both on the same page and want the same thing before you sign the lease.
Make sure your intimate proximity doesn't kill actual intimacy
It's ironic but the closeness of moving in can mean losing the physicality of a relationship. You won't have the added fire of being apart for any extended period of time, so like Theresa, 30, notes, you'll have to be more... proactive: “I have to make an effort to remember to make time, even when I’m crazy tired, I rally and I’m always glad I did.”
Plan real together time
Coexisting on the couch while you both clumsily thumb through your phones should not be mistaken as quality time. “We hate the idea of date nights and don’t feel the need to make weekly plans to go out to dinner, but we will make plans to watch a show together -- without our phones,” says Amanda, 28.
Plan not-together time
On the flip side, just because you live together, doesn’t mean you have to do everything together. “He’ll watch football with his guy friends and I know he won’t care if I have dinner plans with a coworker,” says Maura, 25. “It’s important that we continue to be independent people.” Just make sure you let the other know if they should be having dinner without you.
Divide up the chores
There’s no need to hang an official chore chart on the fridge (because you’re not children), but make sure there’s some sort of balance so that one of you isn’t always stuck scrubbing the shower -- unless that happens to be your thing. “I know she hates taking out the trash, so I’ll handle that and she’s always on Swiffer duty,” says Mike, 28. Whatever the split, it's all about making the other person feel valued and cutting off possible resentment way before it starts, otherwise you will straight up be living in Mordor before you know it.
Have an exit plan
We’re not saying it’s not going to work -- but it might not work. “My boyfriend and I broke up and had to live together for eight months because we couldn’t afford to break the lease or move out,” says Meghan, 32. Save up some cash (apartments usually want the equivalent of three months of rent up front) and be clear about who would have to move out in the event of a break up.