UPDATED: Jan. 4, 2021 —
So you and your boo have been dating for a while and you both think it’s time to make a major move: living together. If you move into your partner’s place (as opposed to moving into a brand new place together) that sets you up for an interesting dynamic—what was once HIS bachelor pad is now the place where YOU call home. You don’t want to impose too much on his pre-established lifestyle, but you deserve to feel at home there too. Where do you draw the line?
Before you make the move, consider this: “When you live with someone, you can’t just hang up the phone, ignore their text messages, or avoid it all,” says Shonda Brown White, author of Don’t Be a Wife to a Boyfriend: 10 Lessons I Learned When I Was Single. “You can’t heal what you don’t confront,” and nothing ever gets resolved when two people ignore or run away from a situation. Get used to confronting and constructively resolving issues before you move in and it will help you in the long run.”
You never really know a person until you live with them, and being around someone 24/7 is one of the quickest and easiest ways to learn someone else’s habits. Some of their habits may be quirky and annoying, and quite honestly, it may take some serious getting used to. Nonetheless, it’s 100% possible to hate some of their habits, but still love them.
If you’re ready to make the move, here are a few do’s and don’ts for moving in to your significant others’ space:
DO start calling it “Our place”
First thing is first: get out of the habit of calling it, “My boyfriend’s place” or “His place.” Your boyfriend asked you to move in because he wants you two to share a place. If you call it “his place,” that will make him feel like you aren’t in this commitment together. Once you’ve changed your language, “find ways to make it truly your own [too],” says White. “Go shopping together and decorate the space so that it beautifully represents both of your aesthetics.”
And since it’s your place now, it might be a good idea to establish rules for chores and household duties. “Be very specific about the roles and responsibilities of each person, and it doesn’t have to necessarily be based on traditional or societal standards,” says White, “Outline the details of your arrangement based on what will work best for your relationship. Just because something did or didn’t work well for someone else’s relationship doesn’t mean it will or won’t work for you.”
DO add your own flair to the living spaces
If you like green walls, paint the bedroom lime green. Do you like purple? Add purple accent pieces throughout the place. Are you into minimalism, then find ways to consolidate. The point is, you deserve to live in a place that makes YOU happy too. You might feel at first that you can only decorate the bedroom, but add your flair to the kitchen and other living spaces as you feel comfortable. And don’t fret, he’ll probably like what you come up with.
Just remember he’ll have some staple items that make the place feel like home to him—maybe a certain leather couch, coffee table or lazy boy chair. Don’t get annoyed—work with the items. Toss an accent pillow on the lazy boy, or add a nice framed photo of the two of you on that coffee table. Whatever you decide, just don’t get rid of all of his belongings.
DON’T Be too Bossy With Your Changes
Do you wish he’d keep the garbage can under the window, instead of in a corner where it stinks up the place? You deserve to live in a place that feels clean to you, so be vocal and tell him how you feel. Don’t just let the issue slide, communicate exactly how you feel without causing conflict.
“A lot of times, whether we realize it or not, we communicate to others based on what we prefer versus what the other person actually wants and needs,” says White. “It’s not enough just to communicate, but it’s important to communicate effectively. There’s a difference between taking a moment to gather your thoughts versus walking out.”
You might want to consider bringing up the changes you need before moving in. The last thing you want is to be silent about your requests and then the second you move in, list a dozen things you want to change. Your boyfriend will feel tricked and maybe even betrayed. Be smart and think ahead.
DO introduce yourself to the neighbors
Now is not the time to be shy. Get out there and safely introduce yourself to your new neighbors. After all, they live in your area too and you never know how you might need each other. Just don’t go overboard and host a huge block party—especially while COVID-19 is here.
Instead, consider how your man feels before you introduce yourself. Does he have a great relationship with them? Does he have a backstory about your neighbors that you should be privy to? Remember that he’s lived here for a while so he already has established relationships with these neighbors. You don’t want to accidentally invite over one neighbor with who he’s had a tiff. Get the scoop on your neighbors from your boyfriend before making plans with them.
DO claim closet space
According to OnePoll survey, 57% of women believe that an organized closet makes it easier and quicker to find what they need.
When it comes to organizing things in your new home, do what you can so that you feel comfortable too. Get organized and claim the closet space you need, and maybe even want.
But, before you start getting things in order, try not to move things around without asking first. If you need to put his photo albums or videos in storage, don’t just let him find that where there once was X-Box there now are shoe boxes. Consult him on what makes the most sense for storage. It’s his place—he knows. Be bold, it’s high time you finally say goodbye to stuffing those sweaters under the bed.
Need help with closet space? reconsider where you keep pieces you wear on special occassions. “Closet size is an issue that can be overcome with creative and efficient planning of your space,” says Marty Basher, a Design and Organization Expert for Modular Closet. “In most closets you can go up. Even if you need to incorporate a folding stool in your closet to make use of the space with shelving, boxes, and baskets. Going up is another great way to safely store those occasional, but vital closet items.”
DO put your products in the bathroom
You’ll inevitably have more products than your boyfriend between razors and shaving gel and hair conditioner and hair color. It might feel weird at first, but feel free to put these on the otherwise empty shelves of his bathroom. You need easy access to these, after all.
Just be sure you don’t throw out his conditioner because he can “Just use yours!” If he’s used to seeing an Old Spice body wash in his bathtub, then let him stick with what he likes. It might be more efficient to share a body wash, but you want his bathroom to still partially resemble his bathroom.
DON’T assume that marriage is the next step
So now that you’re living with your man, it’s easy to assume that you’ll be engaged in the coming months. That would be great if that’s what you want, but be sure you don’t move in together with that assumption.
“Never assume what has yet to be acknowledged,” says White. “People move in together for different reasons: for financial relief, to avoid loneliness, and/or to take a relationship to the next level. So, it’s not enough to assume that moving in will automatically lead to marriage. Making assumptions can result in someone desperately waiting and yearning for something that was never acknowledged and agreed upon in the first place.”
Asking questions up front such as, “where do we stand, what are we doing, and where do we see this headed” can help avoid any potential misunderstanding, as well as hold each other accountable, says White.