When Jeremy and I moved to California in June, it was a monumental moment for me in several ways. It was my first cross-country move, it was the official start of my freelance writing career, and it was my first time living with a boy! Big changes, right? It’s funny – if you had asked 15-year-old Caroline if I would ever cohabit with a boyfriend, I would have emphatically said NO. In my mind, that was off limits until I was married, “or at least engaged.” Two things I’d point out to 15-year-old Caroline… 1) Rent ain’t cheap, especially if you’re spending all your time in one place anyways and 2) You’ll know a ring is coming long before it actually does, so don’t try to be cute and coy by signing a year-long solo lease.
Anyways, a lot of people had words of wisdom when they discovered we were moving in together as mere “boyfriend and girlfriend.” Several people actually told me that this step was more serious than marriage! While I’m not quite sure that part is true, there were definitely some things I’ve learned since shacking up with my partner.
Talking about finances is kinda awkward at first, but you gotta suck it up.
Talking about income feels really unnatural and invasive to me. It feels like asking someone their weight. Obviously, you need to get over that really, really quickly. We had to figure out which apartments were in our price range and who would be responsible for covering what. Since I had no clue what kind of money I would be making during my first year as a freelancer, we had financial conversations daily. Feeling insecure or private about our bank accounts would only cause confusion, so we kept it real with each other and figured out how we could operate as a team.
Having discussions about money has helped us figure out shared priorities and really think about our long-term goals and plans. Personally, I’m glad we’ll have a year of practice before we tie the knot in September.
A good couch is crucial.
When I lived alone, I rarely sat on my couch. I watched TV in bed, or I didn’t really watch TV at all. Same with Jeremy. Living together, our couch is our JAM. Every night after dinner we are on this bad boy, watching our shows and cuddling with our pups. We’ve had some serious talks about life on this couch. We’ve debated where to go for dinner on this couch. Seriously, I had to stop Snapchatting and Instagramming on our couch because it looked like we never left it. We do, I promise. This is just the epicenter of our apartment. Invest in a good, comfy couch.
But on that note, planned date nights are crucial too.
I work from home, and I’m usually in my workout clothes or comfy clothes when Jeremy gets home from work. Then dinner, then couch. When the weekend rolls around, at least one date night is absolutely mandatory. Even if it’s just so I have the chance to actually put on make-up and a cute outfit, it’s worth it. We go out to a restaurant, maybe see a movie, and it feels so good. Then, obviously, back to the couch.
Slang develops at warped speed.
Maybe it’s just us, but since moving in together we’ve developed a crazy amount of slang terms and abbreviations for household things or stuff we do daily. Sometimes we’ll share a quick back & forth and I realize that it would make zero sense to anyone else. I will say, this might just be because Jeremy LOVES nicknaming anything and everything he can. His personal favorites are calling tacos “Ted Talks,” and long pants, “Sit-Sits.”
Our daily routine is sacred.
Maybe that’s just because we are both creatures of habit, but a routine evolved over time and we stick to it. Jeremy lets the dogs out in the morning and makes coffee. I make the bed. I (obviously) take the dogs out all day, which means Jeremy covers the evening shift. He makes dinner, I do the dishes. We alternate who controls the TV at night. If it’s his turn to pick shows, I work on a puzzle. At night, he puts on a podcast until we’re both asleep. This is our beloved routine. No, we are not 60 years old.
Males and females have different caloric needs.
Okay, this is a REAL thing that I apparently needed to learn. Jeremy loves to cook and we make dinner at home every weeknight. At the beginning, we would just split whatever he made 50/50. Turns out, when a 5’1 female eats like a 5’11 male, it starts to show. OOPS. “Love weight” is a real thing, people. I’m working on getting this under control… but I have no regrets.
Learn to appreciate their TV shows (and music and hobbies, etc.)
We love ending our night watching TV together, but we obviously have different preferences. Don’t fight it. He got me hooked on John Oliver and Vice News. I got him hooked on Big Little Lies and The Bachelor (although he’d never admit the latter). Be open to expanding your entertainment palette*.
*If you seriously can’t stand something they love to watch, get a new hobby. I have become a serious puzzle addict. Knitting works also.
Be open to constructive criticism.
We both lived alone for the first two years of our relationship, so we got very used to having things a certain way. Naturally, we’ve noticed a few things about each other that we point out. For him, it’s my half empty coffee cups, bobby pins, and Popsicle sticks that I leave all over the apartment. For me, it’s the fact that he cleans more ridiculously than Danny Tanner. (Seriously people, he tries to wash my dishes before I’m done eating, and MORE THAN ONCE he’s put my bath towel in the washing machine while I’m still in the shower!) Instead of assuming that he’s calling me a slob, and instead of screaming at him while I’m naked, freezing, and towel-less after my shower, we’ve tried to talk semi-constructively about the stuff that bothers us.
So… that’s what I’ve got so far.
I’m only 26 and I’m in my first year of living with Jeremy, so I’m sure this is the tip of the iceberg. Honestly, I was about to write something about how we giggle and laugh at each other’s flaws, because they’re actually super charming. And they totally are… right now. But I’m also very aware that cute little quirks and flaws can lose their charm over time… so wish us luck if/when that time comes! For now, I’ll savor this new (perhaps naïve) cohabitation bliss.