Living with your significant other — like living with a roommate — comes with its own set of ups and downs. However, what makes this situation different from just living with a good friend, a relative or a person that you met online is the fact that your romantic relationship gets tangled up in the small day-to-day details of living with another person. In a lot of ways, because you are so close, you tend to forget that your significant other is also, in fact, a roommate of sorts, and you get too comfortable in your bad living habits. Would you hog the bathroom for huge amounts of time? Would you treat any and all leftovers as fair game? Maybe, but eventually your roommate would snap. You may not realize it just yet, but these types of inconsiderate things also annoy your boyfriend or girlfriend. For this reason, there are general rules for living with roommates and many of those also apply to living with your significant other.
As someone who has lived with my boyfriend for over two years now, I know a thing or two about what those rules should look like. After some fights, heart-to-heart conversations and trial and error learning, I can safely say that we both understand that eventually somethings gotta give when there are no apartment-sharing guidelines and agreements in place. Don’t make our mistakes — go over some ground rules together before you make the big move AND never be afraid to talk it out when new things inevitably come up. Express your concerns and grievances before they ever turn into one of those “I’m not going to talk to you for days” kind of fights. Arguments may still happen, but let’s make sure they aren’t about your living quarters.
Here are my top tried-and-true rules for living with your significant other:
Clean Up Your Own Messes — Seriously, don’t leave your dirty laundry on the floor and clean up the dishes that you use, etc.
Don’t Be a Space Hog — Share closet space, dresser space, bathroom space. The area belongs to your significant other just as much as it belongs to you.
Don’t Be A Decorating Bully — My boyfriend is all about utility and I’m all about aesthetics, so we often butt heads when it comes to decorating our apartment. As I’ve had to learn, it’s his home too, so he should like the way it looks, as well, and have a say.
Be Considerate — Don’t use up all the hot water, don’t watch TV at top volume while he or she is trying to sleep, etc. You know what being considerate means and you know what types of behaviors would annoy you, so live by the golden rule of treating your significant other the way you’d like to be treated.
Discuss Bills & Chores — This should be done way before you actually start living together, but often, it isn’t clear what needs to be paid and what needs to be done each week until you really get settled into your new space. Whenever the time is right for the two of you, sit down and allocate bills and chores and keep up your half of the bargain.
Don’t Assume That Things That Are Theirs Are Also Yours — Determine what’s shared and what isn’t. Will you share food? How about necessities like toothpaste? Determine these things early.
Don’t Gripe About It, Talk About It — When your roommate is also your significant other, it’s easy to complain about his or her living habits and the things that annoy you rather than making the effort to discuss these issues with him or her. Eventually, your frustrations will win out and it will lead to passive aggressiveness and avoidable fights.
Be Willing To Compromise — Just because you’re a vegetarian doesn’t mean that your significant other shouldn’t be allowed to eat meat in the apartment. You can set all the rules you want and talk until you are out of breath, but if you aren’t willing to compromise, nothing will ever be resolved. So compromise, compromise, compromise. That doesn’t mean you should always be the person to giving in or make concessions, instead it means knowing when to pick your battles and when to just let it go.
Fellow co-habitators, what are some of your best advice tips for living with your significant other?
Love these! It’s so important to figure out some ground rules beforehand. But it’s never too late…I’ll be having the “clean up your own messes” conversation with my SO tonight!
Sarah, so glad to hear that these tips were helpful for you. Having that talk is always a difficult one, but it definitely leads to better communication and living habits in the long run! Good luck!