I’m an only child. I never had to share my bedroom or deal with a younger sibling borrowing my toys. I like living alone, and I’ve chosen to spend more on rent and not share with housemates for quite a while since I left University. I have shared with partners before, and as some of you might know, my boyfriend David moved in with me just after Christmas. If, like me, you’re not a natural co-habiter, it can be tricky, especially if one of you moves to a house the other lived in alone before. I’ve picked up some tricks and tips along the way though, so here’s my guide to learning to share your space with a partner.
Remember it’s their home too
If you’ve been living alone for a while and then your partner moves in, it can be hard to adjust thinking of it as their home too, not just yours. Before they arrive, have a good clear out and a move round of your own belongings, so there’s actually somewhere for them to put their things and they don’t feel like they’re intruding. Don’t let yourself get precious about where things go. Choose homes for their stuff together, but let it go if they want to store something in a way you wouldn’t. Make sure some of their stuff is on display too, not just stuffed into a spare cupboard. It’s a shared space now.
Talk about your quirks first
Anyone who has shared a home will know that sometimes really tiny things make you really angry. Everybody has their quirks about what they like at home, that others just don’t think about. For example, my mum really hates plates being left in the drying rack after you’ve washed up, whereas I don’t care. It feels silly, but talk about these pet peeves before you’re under one roof. That way, you’ll know if your partner will be filled with irrational rage if your shoes are lying by the front door, and they know if you can’t stand it if the bed is left unmade. It saves arguments later.
Be honest and open about finances
If your other half has giant credit card debts, or something of that sort, it’s always best to know before you move in together. Discuss money. Decide how you’re going to divide up the bills, and if there’s something that only one of you will pay for. For example, when I lived with my ex, we split everything down the middle, except for the internet, which he paid for, as he wanted superfast fiber (which was pricey) and I was happy with the cheap option. Agree on any budgets. Don’t assume that your other half feels the same way about money as you do.
Divide up the chores
If it was originally just your place, that doesn’t mean you’re still doing all the jobs. Make sure you’re dividing up tasks fairly. That can mean taking it in turns to do each task, or splitting them up between you, say one of you cooks and the other does the washing up. You might find certain tasks divide up naturally, but find whatever works.
Choose large items together
Need a new wardrobe now there’s two of you? Eyeing up a new sofa? Remember it’s theirs too now, so make sure you’re choosing items for your home together.
Remember you’re both grown-ups
If you’re mature enough to live together, you need to get over yourself a little. Now is the time to let go of things like hiding your tampons or the spot cream at the back of the bathroom cabinet. Trust me, your partner knows you’re a human. Everyone has their own comfort levels on privacy, and that’s fine, but disguising the fact you’re a human is pointless. Plus, it’s much nicer to have your partner look after you when you’re dying of the flu, instead of hiding alone in your bedroom hoping they don’t notice how snotty you are.
Don’t be roommates
They’re your partner too, not just someone you’re having a flat share with. Don’t let yourself settle into just being roommates. Keep up date night, make an effort to do nice things for each other, even if they’re small like making a cup of tea.
Most of all? Enjoy it!