Even when you already spend every waking second with your S.O., moving in together is a big deal. You’re no longer just spending the night at their place — their bedroom is now your bedroom, and piles of dishes in the sink and tiny hair clippings all over the shower are now your problem, too.
To help you navigate the uncharted waters of sharing a humble abode, we asked top relationship experts to share solutions to even the biggest obstacles.
1. Different levels of cleanliness
While he might not have a problem walking through the apartment with shoes on, it might drive you crazy! And while you might not see a problem with a little hair in the shower drain, he won’t step foot in it until it’s cleared. “When you move in together, you may notice that certain cleaning (or messy) habits you once hardly noticed, are now on display,” Celeste Holbrook, Ph.D. and sexual health consultant, said in an interview with The Cheat Sheet. “Often, the less clean partner has to make a bit more effort to meet the other partner in the middle.”
2. Division of household chores
Just like setting some realistic expectations about cleanliness, it’s important to talk about who’s responsible for which household chores once the two of you merge homes. “It may be difficult to ask your partner to step up and help if he or she doesn’t think cleaning is a priority, but it could be better than scrubbing the floor at midnight, resentful of her peaceful sleeping,” Holbrook explained.
The best thing to keep in mind is to be fair in your division and to speak up if you feel your mate’s not pulling their weight.
3. Defining space
Whether it’s which side of the bed he wants to sleep on or which side of the closet she wants to claim, space can be a tricky variable to divvy up and it often takes time and adjustment. The same goes for decorating the apartment. “Many times couples have different taste and needs when it comes to furnishing and decorating,” Dawn Michael, Ph.D., clinical sexologist, relationship expert, and author of My Husband Wont Have Sex With Me, told us. Her best suggestion is to look through Pinterest together to adopt a style that works for both of your tastes, comfort needs, and budget.
4. Having company over
While you used to be able to invite friends over whenever you wanted, for however long you wanted, now there’s someone else to consider. “Your partner might operate on a different schedule than you and needs quiet and rest during times that you do not,” Martinez explained. “A good resolution is to have a discussion about what’s an appropriate amount of days and times for each of you to have people over.” This is especially important if you work different hours, for example your partner might need to get his or her rest at an hour when you’re ready to let loose and enjoy.
5. Sleeping at different times
Especially if you’re on different schedules, either due to work or lifestyle preferences, this can become a major challenge. “There’s a great degree of distance and loss of intimacy that can happen by either sleeping in different rooms or at different times,” Martinez explained. “People feel a gap start to build by going to bed alone and not having this physical proximity with their partner.”
If it’s important for you to go to bed at the same time as your partner, explain this to him or her. You may be surprised by their sensitivity to the matter and their level of understanding.
6. Managing your finances
Money is a topic most couples fight about, especially those who are married or live together. Whether it’s who’s going to handle the electric bill and pay the rent every month to who spends more on groceries and toiletries for the home, there’s no shortage of fights to be hand when it comes to paying for things you share. “It may not be as simple as splitting everything down the middle because you have different financial priorities,” Holbrook explained. For example, you’ve always hired somebody to mow and edge the yard, but your girlfriend thinks it’s excessive and wants to save money by doing it yourselves.
7. Spending enough time away from each other
Now that you two are living together, time apart is crucial — just as crucial as time spent together was before you moved in. “Even though you love your partner, your alone time is still important and not an in any way a lack of affection or love,” Holbrook said. “You may have to be more diligent about taking time for yourself, knowing that it serves your relationship in very positive ways.”
8. Spending enough quality time together
While living together likely means you go to sleep next to each other every night and wake up to each other every morning, this can sometimes make it difficult to forget scheduling in quality time. “Before you lived together, time together was precious, not to be squandered, but now you might take it for granted because you see the person every day,” explained Claudia Six, Ph.D., sexologist, relationship coach, and author of Erotic Integrity. But try your best not to.
9. Figuring out the right amount of transparency
While living together might mean knowing your partner’s schedule and when they will be home, there should still be limits. “Although I’m not a proponent for 100% transparency (your partner doesn’t have to know your poop schedule), you do need to be willing to be vulnerable and open about the stuff that matters,” Holbrook explained. “Be prepared when they accidentally come across things that were once more private, like your furry convention picture album.” And those items that you really don’t want your partner seeing — like your journal from high school or those naked selfies of your ex — get rid of them or lock them away.
“One of the keys to great sex is looking forward to it happening,” said Holbrook. “When you live in separate places, having sex takes at least a bit of planning because you have to be together.” Before you lived together, it was probably easy to predict when you’d have sex with your partner. Maybe it was every Friday because that was your date night. However, once you sleep in the same bed every night, you no longer have the opportunity to anticipate sex because it could potentially happen every night.