Did you know that to date, 15 million unmarried couples live together in the US? With the cost of housing on the rise *cries in Californian* and everything else rising with it, it’s becoming less of a taboo to share a roof with your partner.
But of course, anyone that has lived with an S.O. can cosign that it is not a walk in the park. To me, living with your S.O. is either “sink or float”. Meaning it can either make your relationship… or break it.
In fact, I was actually terrified when my boyfriend brought up the idea of living together solely because in my last relationship, we definitely SUNK.
Fast-forward to present day, my boyfriend and I have been living together for almost 2 years now, and I can confidently say we’ve gotten better as roommates (and as a couple) over time.
I wanna share my 10 most valuable tips that not only keep this ship afloat, but cruisin 😎
#1 – Give Each Other Space
Space should be a priority when rooming with your S.O. Without it, one (or both of you) will end up feeling suffocated. But while some people are comfortable asking for space, others may not be. And vise versa: some people are more understanding when asked for space, while others may not take it so well.
No matter which side of the fence you’re on, I found a solution- plan the space.
By this I mean pick specific dates for time with friends and/or yourself ahead of time, and encourage your S.O. to do the same.
Examples: “Guys night out” every other Friday, Sunday Brunch with the girls, solo hike every Saturday.
My personal example: We have all Boys/Girls Trips often & I like to pick up a bunch of side gigs on the weekends. Killing 2 birds with 1 stone 😉
“Balance is key to cohabitation”
#2 – Have Mandatory Date-Nights
Just like personal space disappears, sometimes romance does too. I’m especially guilty of this! Before we moved in together, I liked to get outta the house and go on adventures.
On the other hand, if my boyfriend could live in a cave without human interaction for the rest of his life, all he would need is food and video games.
After moving in together, I slowly but surely turned into a homebody like him. It’s definitely frugal to Netflix and chill every weekend, but you have to get outta sweats here and there to keep the spark in your relationship alive.
So, we made a “one date per week” rule to keep things fresh and exciting.
Mandatory Date-Night Part 2
Because my boyfriend isn’t much of a planner, I was the one planning the weekly dates at first. But over time, I noticed his enthusiasm fading. I asked him why, and he openly admitted he wasn’t into the activities I was planning. So we sat down and talked about a solution.
Our solution: Alternate who chooses the dates.
I choose an activity one week, and he chooses the next. This works perfectly because he’s an introvert and I’m an extrovert. So my choices are usually people-oriented (group bowling dates, couples game night, festivals) and his are more relaxed, one-on-one dates like ice cream, the movies, dinner.
“A great relationship is about two things. First, appreciating the similarities, and second, respecting the differences.”
#3- Choose Your Chores
Ahh.. speaking of differences. Next topic: chores.
I am 1,000% a feminist. In relation to chores, that means I don’t believe certain chores are a “woman’s job” and vise versa. With that belief, I initially wanted everything split down the middle- I deep cleaned the bathroom & then it was his turn to. We alternated taking out the trash, etc.
But slowly, I was convinced that every man half-asses chores they don’t like so their women can just do it themselves. If you’re a man reading this, don’t you dare argue with me. I know a billion other women that will have my back on this.
Our solution: Split the chores up according to preferences instead of taking turns (doing them).
Example: I hate ironing, taking the trash out, and washing/drying laundry. So he does those chores. And then he hates deep cleaning (anything), so I take care of all of that. And then we team up and do the chores we both don’t mind doing together (like folding laundry).
#4 – Halfsies with the Mula
It’s important to establish finances before moving in so you know what to expect. Our financial agreement is pretty clear cut: we split everything down the middle.
Any house supplies we buy we send a Venmo request for- even if it’s just a $7 dust pan. While sending a request for $3.50 to your S.O. seems petty, this has eliminated any money issues we’ve had in the past 2 years. We haven’t ran into any financial issues since implementing this rule.
#5 – Two Chef Hats
Just like finances, we split cooking down the middle also. If he cooks dinner Monday, I cook dinner Tuesday, etc. If work runs late on my assigned day, I’ll either bring home takeout for the both of us or just ask him to switch days with me.
This promotes the “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” notion and makes our lives a little easier when the responsibility of cooking is not all on one person.
Also, one thing I love about our cooking agreement is that if one of us cooks, the other cleans (the pots and pans used). And then both of us wash our own plates.
#6 – Communicate Your Likes/Dislikes
Communication is key to rooming together in peace. I have a ton of girl friends who’ll ask me things like “How do I let my bf know that I hate when he leaves the empty milk container in the fridge when it’s done?”. Or from men as well, “How do I tell her that it really freaks me out when there’s hair in the shower?”
Simple: TELL THEM.
I know this may seem silly reading, but I can’t tell you how many times someone has asked me for advice on that issue.
I get it. Communication takes comfortability. But you cannot achieve comfortability without practice.
Do not harbor your dislikes inside of you until you collect so many that you burst at the most random (and inconvenient) times. Spilling your basket full of complaints during an irrelevant argument is counter-productive. They need to be addressed as soon as possible (and not to mention, in a non-confrontational manner).
A counter-example: You’re mid argument (of something not related to rooming) and one of you says, “You clearly don’t care! That’s why you leave the empty milk carton in the fridge all the time! Always wanting me to clean up after you!”
In one of the chapters of my favorite relationship books Don’t Sweat the Small Things in Love, it talks about the common mistake of a person expecting their partner to read their mind.
“Hidden resentments poison a relationship; so if something bothers you, say it.”
#7 – Let it Go
A friend of mine just started living with her boyfriend and asked me how in the world I haven’t gone crazy over the little things. I told her that after some time, I’ve surprisingly mastered the art of not giving a sh*t (to a certain extent) & I’ve been at peace.
Her example: Her boyfriend always leaves crumbs on the kitchen counter.
My advice: If it doesn’t “interrupt anything important”, then let it go. It’s not worth mentioning.
She could either leave them there or if it really bugs her that much- she could just wipe it herself (which would take 2.5 seconds max).
Honorable mention: I personally have a rule that if it doesn’t take me more than 5 minutes to do myself, then I’ll try not to complain about it.
My example of something you SHOULD say something about: I asked my bf to please wash a shirt of mine I needed for a side gig I had the next day & he agreed to do it. So my gig rolls around, and right before it I ask him where my shirt was… and he told me he washed it, but forgot to transfer it to the dryer.
With that, I had a right to let him know I was upset about it. Because 1) it “interrupted something important” aka my job. and 2) it took more than 5 minutes to do.
“Be selective with your battles. Sometimes peace is better than being right.”
#8 – Nag Differently
Boy do I hate that word! First of all, asking you to do something over and over again cuz you still haven’t done it shouldn’t be considered nagging. Can I get an amen ladies?
Unfortunately that word gets tossed around even more when you live with your S.O.
So how do I “nag” less you may ask? I don’t nag less- I nag differently.
Laundry need to be done? Trash need to be taken out? His turn for dinner?
Behold… the magical shared calendar.
Make a shared calendar via Gmail instead of having to remind him over and over again like a broken record.
This is an example of one of the days on our shared calendar:
And the best part- you can set reminders on it. They’ll pop up on both of your phones just like your personal gmail/iphone calendar reminders would. So instead of you nagging, the calendar does it for you.
“Alexa, play heavenly harps.”
At first I was hesitant to bring this idea up to my bf, but thankfully it went well. Just word it as “a way to set reminders for us” and “a way to add/edit events”– after all, I do use this calendar to add our flights, vacations, and important dates for work as well!
This is my FAVE trick up my sleeve.
If you don’t know how to create a shared calendar, this is an article on how to do it through your phone: [here].
& this is how to do it on a desktop [here].
#9 – Remember: “You have roommate problems- not relationship problems”
I was venting to my cousin a while back that I was super annoyed that my bf (an ex not my current) needed to be reminded to do his dishes all the time. I was like, “He’s such an inconsiderate boyfriend. Why give me more things to do when I already do a lot for the apartment as it is. He just doesn’t care about me.”
That’s when she gave me this valuable piece of advice: “Remember that you have roommate problems- not relationship problems.” She said that he was being an inconsiderate roommate, not an inconsiderate boyfriend.
By separating the two thoughts, you eliminate the lingering thought of your partner not caring about you as a person. Failure to separate these thoughts will cause you to think you have a horrible partner. When in reality, you just have a partner with horrible rommate habits.
Your partner’s roommate etiquette has nothing to do with you- so don’t take it personally!
Last but not least:
#10 – Let Him Game in Peace
Okay I get this question a lot: “How do you deal with your partner playing video games?”
My tip- I don’t deal with it. I let him be and you should too.
If my bf is keeping up with the chores he agreed to do, working two jobs (yes on top of his main job he has a side hustle!), why should I complain about the thing that makes him happy?
Mind you, this is coming from a girl who’s man plays video games literally 24/7. My bf does NOT like to leave the house and logs an inhumane amount of game time every week. Our compromise is that he gives me his undivided attention during our date-nights that I mentioned above.
My philosophy is: If your man doesn’t complain about you brunching with your friends all day on Sundays, binge-watching Gossip Girl, or scrolling on social media for hours on end- why should you complain about what he does for fun?
Let that man be!
That wraps up my 10 most valuable advices. I hope you guys found these tips helpful!
For how optimistic of a person I am, I was really resistant to room with a partner again. But through this amazing experience, I have learned that the most important elements to stay afloat are compromise, understanding, and a foundation of rules! Do not be afraid of that word.
“The key to a successful learning environment is structure.”
Once you learn your partner, you learn how to coexist under one roof in peace ♥
For more tips, visit my Better Quality Sleep blog post – I included a link for the best anti-snoring devices if your partner snores (another tip for living peacefully! lol).