J & I present to you, our responses to your cohabitation questions.
A big thank you to everyone who took the time to submit. It is fun to write a more personal post now and then and to focus on the things that are currently relevant to me. And a big thank you to my boyfriend for sitting down and taking the time to contribute, too. We wrote our responses separately and without discussion as to be unbiased.
How often do you guys go out with friends separately (i.e. maintain your lives outside of each other and stay individuals instead of always being a “we”)?
me: I usually only go out alone when I feel like a girls night or when a friend is in town. I have a few drinking buddies and a few writing buddies which are great too. I would say a couple times a month do I “go out” without him. Otherwise its group gatherings or double dates.
him: I would say about 2-4 times a month. However, this more or less mirrors our behavior before the relationship–Lo and I are both introverts, i.e. socializing tires us out instead of energizing us. What works for us might not work for others–some might need more outside social time.
How do you keep the magic alive when you see each other as frequently as you do?
me: He is pretty courteous. Notes and flowers, not farting in my face, being respectful of our shared space, he always looks nice. Lots of little things. My favorite thing is that feeling after you laugh with someone. Goofy inside jokes. That kind of thing. Finding a balance between routine and special dates helps too. I like that he cooks breakfast and I cook dinner. I also like when we say fuck it, dress up, and go out for a nice meal.
him: I’m of the opinion that “magic” isn’t just always there–it’s something you create and work at.
I believe in the past you’ve talked about how important you think it is for people to still masturbate even if you’re with someone. Do you guys still masturbate? If so, how do you find time to do it (do you do it mutually or find time by yourselves)?
me: Occasionally, but not that much. I have no idea how he’ll answer this one. I’m almost always home when he’s home, but we are apart sometimes. If you have to get off, you have to get off.
him: I don’t masturbate that often–I just don’t really have the time or inclination. Lo has a higher sex drive than me and is pretty much game whenever I am unless she is sick or it’s shark week. Even with the latter she takes care of me. I expect she masturbates far more than I do as she is home more often studying and can easily procrasturbate.
How do you guys handle money? Do you have a joint account or still keep everything separate?
me: We keep everything separate and split bills 50/50. At this point there isn’t any need for a joint account and it’s not something we’ve talked about doing. We try to keep a pretty even balance of things but because he makes more than I do I begrudgingly let him pick up a little extra every now and then. We split bills and groceries using the square cash app. A couple times a month we tend to do shorter trips to the store separately (pick up necessary items, things we’re craving, stuff for dinners) and it doesn’t seem to be a problem.
him: It is separate. We more or less split everything, though I intentionally pay for more stuff given that make much more than she does. I still think she pays for too much but she won’t allow it, which I love. If I invite her out to dinner (i.e. with my parents) I always try to pay. I will say that I had a bad experience in the past and that it is, really, really wonderful to deal with money on a rational level with Lo.
Do you cuddle on a nightly basis or was that given up long before you ever realized you could co-habitate?
me: We rarely take cuddle breaks throughout the day. There is plentiful cuddling. We don’t really “sleep cuddle” though, unless you count fighting for the blankets and my legs somehow ending up over his side of the bed as cuddling.
him: Dear reader, I don’t want to read into your question too far, but if cuddling is something that is important to you, you should be able to meet that need in a relationship without twisting anyone’s arm. Here’s my unsolicited advice–tell your partner how you feel, or gtfo. Love, Jason
Now for my actual answer–
We cuddle all the time, and even if we’re not cuddling usually we are touching somehow if we’re within that distance. If we stopped cuddling I would think something was very wrong.
Hi, I have a question based on a previous relationship I had. We moved in together and after a few weeks, he started irking me to the point where I didn’t want to have sex…I’m not sure if I was overreacting, but the problem was that when I brought up to him that I don’t like him doing x and y, he didn’t think that those things were something he should’ve considered as not ok behaviors in the first place. It was a myriad of things, not closing the door when he went to the bathroom, not spraying the air freshener after he did, kicking food he dropped under the fridge. I just felt disrespected above all I guess. How can I avoid a similar situation in the future? Please tell me if I was overreacting or handled the situation in a wrong manner. Thank you.
me: There are a lot of little things that you notice when you live with someone that they might never notice they do. For me the biggest part of living with someone is that moment you realize I am not the only one that lives here. People have different ways of behaving when they are alone and those behaviors can take a while to change or get used to. I don’t know how you had that conversation with him. He may have been defensive or embarrassed being called out on things that he had been doing his whole life. A good plan is to nicely ask your partner to do things differently and explain why. “Hey I got this stuff for us to spray after we use the bathroom. Can we start using it together?” Try to be lighthearted about it, don’t make it a serious personality flaw that he doesn’t spray in the bathroom. Just gently get the point across that all the tension will go away if he can make a small painless change in his system. Make it clear that you are willing to do the same for him if something comes up. If he says “no” or “whatever babe” then you might be dating someone who isn’t mature enough to deal with cohabitation.
him: I think you did the right thing by telling him your standards of cleanliness and how comfortable you want to be with each other. He should have said “Sure baby, no problem.” What the hell skin off his back is it to close the door when he takes a dump? Consider yourself well rid of this cad.
Is it realistic to expect that we’ll have as much sex as we do now if we live together?
me: Yes. I do think when you don’t see each other every day there is the perception that when you do see your partner the desire is more instantaneous. You may need to find new and creative ways to get in the mood if you don’t have those periods of absence. But if you want it, strive for it.
him: Sure! Why not?
How do you combine his stuff and your stuff if you have different styles?
me: I think it can be a transitional time. Try to pick what things you can or can’t live without as time goes by and see what your style is developing in to. If you have the money, you can pick a style together. An easy way to do that is to pick one favorite item (a color, a couch, an era) and choose the rest of the house around that.
him: That depends on a lot of things–which partner has nicer stuff, which partner is moving in with the other, which partner is the better decorator, which partner cares more about their stuff, what makes more sense from a spatial perspective. From there you just compromise.
Who does what around the house? How do you break down chores and shopping?
me: I like the big trips to the store, it’s fun to me. I also like cooking big dinners so I can get all the ingredients I need. He does quite a bit of shopping himself too though, and we almost always go together. We haven’t figured out chores yet. We only just unpacked and theres a lot of organizing left to do. So far the only real thing we have set up is that whoever cooks, the other person does the dishes. I think he’s going to save me from shower cleaning duty.
him: We haven’t been living together long enough to get into the routine, but so far Lo has done the majority of the real housework. I don’t want to diminish her schooling because that is stressful and worthy, but she does have more time here at the apartment (I work 8-10 hour days). I try really hard to keep up with my end of the chores (she cooks, I clean up) and so forth. We each do our own laundry and usually go shopping together and split the bill.
How often do you talk about the “next steps” in your relationship now that you’re living together?
me: We don’t really. I’ve told him that I like that he’s real, and talking about big things doesn’t freak him out, or send forth impending doom notifications. That’s about as far as it’s gone.
him: Not at all so far.
What is the weirdest thing your so does around the house that is also endearing?
me: I’m trying to think of something particular that is different from before he lived here. He’s taken up my habit of giving objects personalities. I have to be careful because he might not be talking to me, he might be talking to the pita bread.
him: Pretty much everything Lo does is endearing.
What were your reasons for moving in together?
me: We spent most nights together and I think I personally reached that moment where it was silly to always be packing for several day stays at the other persons place. (Mostly him.) Also I knew he was a keeper. I didn’t have any reservations.
him: I love Lorelei and I knew living with her would be amazing and fun. I love seeing her every day. I was practically living here anyway.
Do you think theres a difference between moving in together and getting married?
me: I think so. We’ve talked about this a little bit I think in the past but for me I keep coming back to the same thing. The tone of getting married is different. When you get married it’s more about melding your family or making a family together than just cohabiting. (You can certainly do this without getting married, as well.) Living together can mean a lot of things but deciding to get married is decidedly “I decided I want to do life with you.”
him: Yes. The difference is that they are different.
I don’t live with my gf yet and am worried if I do that I won’t have time to myself. She isn’t totally unsupportive of this and I’m not sure how you feel about it but I play a LOT of video games. I’m worried if we live together that she is going to make it a big deal and it’s not something I think I’m just going to grow out o f.
me: If you’re an adult who plays video games and thats something thats important to you, find a girl who also likes video games, or a girl who understands that part of you and the culture itself. Also be aware that when you move in with someone you do change your behaviors a bit. Make sure you have time to do the things you like to do but be aware of how things have changed. Like spending time with her, being present and aware when you’re having a conversation, turning it down or wearing headphones when necessary, or having a separate room for it. Remembering to do what you need to do before you do what you want to do goes for everything, not just gaming. I think moderation is key.
him: If you have fears about having personal time, you should communicate that to your partner before you move in. Your partner also deserves to know how you plan to spend your time. You probably will find that you have less time to spend playing video games because you will be spending more time experiencing the world with your SO–and that’s a good and worthy thing. My warning to you is that generally people who live together don’t carve out a lot of time for solo leisure activities. The whole point is to find lots of things that you can enjoy together. Then again if she’s cool hanging out reading while you blow up aliens and that works for you guys, more power to ya.
Easy: What is the best part about living with someone you care about?
me: Seeing him at the end of every day, and making all those mundane parts of life better.
him: You get to hang out with them ALL the time!
How would you soothe common fears about living with a significant other?
me: I’d want to know what those fears were. Then I’d want to know if you felt comfortable talking to your s/o about them. Getting it out there is the first step. Sometimes its just right.
him: Sometimes you just gotta take the leap.
That wraps it up! If you have any more questions specific to cohabitation, submit at the top by hitting ask advice and I’ll answer it on my blog. Otherwise, we’re back to your regularly scheduled blogging.