No need to repeat the tired old U-Haul lesbian jokes, but it’s true–at some point in a committed relationship you’ll probably feel ready to make the big leap to cohabitation. Whether that occurs in the throes of limerence or after the honeymoon period is a very individual decision. But no matter the relationship stage, living together means big changes for you and your lady love, and it’s best to be prepared. Talk deep, make plans, and be flexible enough to change those plans as needed along the way.
The Strains of Money
The pesky problem of money often creates tension in a new love nest, and your best bet is to consider all the facts up front. Will you establish a joint bank account for rent and bills? If one of you earns significantly more than the other, decide whether that person will contribute more to household finances or, regardless of income, if both of you will split costs 50/50. When not discussed openly and honestly, financial arrangements can lead to feelings of resentment, and the last thing you want is for your girlfriend to think you’re not pulling your weight or vice versa.
Along the same lines as paying bills, if you and your partner have drastically different spending habits, you might have problems when you’re trying to plan your life together. Dropping $500 on a pair of shoes might not be a big deal to her, but maybe you’re not so enthusiastic about spontaneous spending if you thought you were saving for a new couch or vacation together. Talk it through ahead of time — are you maintaining your financial independence while living under the same roof, or do you consider living together a financial partnership?
Housework and chores are other common points of contention, and conflict will occur pretty quickly if you have different ideas on this one. The smart way to make things work is to sit down and discuss which chores you each enjoy (or at least tolerate). Some people love cooking and hate yard work, while others don’t mind ironing but can’t stand the grocery store. Figure these differences out and use them to your advantage, then split the rest in a way that feels fair to you, or take turns. And be prepared for renegotiation along the way.
Dance of the Decor
Merging our lives also means merging our stuff. And merging our stuff means merging our decor styles. In some cases this may be fine if your tastes are complimentary. But what if your femme aesthetic and her punk taste are polar opposites? Compromise is key in this situation.
You’ll want to be methodical about it, so take inventory of your furniture and housewares and decide together which pieces stay and which pieces go (or are put in storage), and ensure the end look represents you both. This is particularly important if one of you is moving into the other’s apartment — you don’t want to feel like a guest in your own home. If you have the funds for it, go shopping together for one key piece of furniture or art as a housewarming present to yourselves. This can be a really nice way to foster closeness and make you both feel present in your new place.
Let’s Talk About Sex
The next change is a double-edged sword: your sex life will change. At first you’ll likely be doing it like rabbits, taking full advantage of the togetherness and novelty of sharing a home. Before long, however, many couples find the lovemaking eases off as they settle into their new living situation. As with everything, discuss your concerns and needs. If you find things need a shake-up, try scheduling time for intimacy, taking a weekend away for a change of scenery, or — as counter-intuitive as it may seem — ensuring you have enough time apart with friends or alone.
Love to Miss Her
Speaking of time apart, this is one of the best ways to nurture your relationship, both in the bedroom and out. Think of that old saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Spending time apart helps fend off dependency, keeps things fresh, and gives you a chance to miss each other. So remember to not get too stuck in the love bubble and spend time with friends, family, and your hobbies.
If your new place is roomy enough, fostering alone time at home can also be helpful. Each of you will benefit from having a space dedicated to doing something you love, even if it’s just roomy enough for a meditation cushion, a little art studio, or a reading corner — whichever direction your interests lie.
A New Depth
Learning more about your girlfriend is one of the most rewarding ways your relationship will change, but it’s also one of the most mundane. You’ll see what she’s like at her worst and discover all her guilty pleasures, and you might even find that some of those once-endearing habits start to get on your nerves. But if you take time to smooth out the relatively straightforward aspects of living together — chores, decorating, and finances — you’ll no doubt learn to love her in even more ways. Each new discovery can bring you closer, and moving in together can mean a whole new level of depth, warmth, love, and relationship satisfaction.