Hint: Love is still the most important thing.

By Kelsey Mulvey
Updated February 19, 2020
Moving in together - cohabitation tips from someone who lived alone before
Credit: Five Stars/Getty Images

When my boyfriend and I first discussed moving in together about a year ago, I was struck with a lot of feelings. At that time, we had been dating for almost four years—and in a long-distance relationship for two—so moving in together was an exciting milestone we were both ready to take on. But if I’m being honest, I met this exciting milestone with a little trepidation.

You see, before moving in with my boyfriend, I lived in a studio apartment—alone. Sure, my boyfriend stayed over often, but my home meant my rules. I lived each day by my own schedule. I came home to peace and quiet every night, and I felt zero guilt whenever I left a large pile of dirty dishes in the sink, so moving in with my boyfriend would be a major lifestyle change. It wouldn’t just be my house; it would be our house. And as you might’ve guessed, I’d no longer be the only one calling the shots. I worried that, after so much time as my own roommate, it would be difficult to be someone else’s, even if it was the next step in my healthy relationship.

To my surprise, the past few months of cohabitation have gone a lot smoother than I had anticipated. Yes, it has its share of challenges, but it’s been a lot easier than any other roommate experience I’ve had. Thinking about moving in together? Here’s what I learned from living with my partner. With any luck, my takeaways will make this transition easy for you, too.

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1 Set responsibilities

Let’s get one thing straight: Cohabitating isn’t all decorating your home and romantic nights in. If you want to make living together easier, it’s important to figure out the unglamorous logistics. Yes, I’m talking about chores.

A few months ago, my boyfriend and I made a roommate contract that outlines basic ground rules and who handles which chores. We decided to assign each other chores that related to our pet peeves. For example, I have an eye for detail, so I’m in charge of making sure every nook and cranny is vacuumed to my liking. My boyfriend likes slipping into a made-up bed each night, so that’s on him. That way, we’re both responsible for the things that might irk us over time. The process of assigning chores doesn’t have to be boring: My boyfriend and I made things official—and downright hilarious—by signing a formal contract, complete with clauses.

2 Talk it out

More times than not, living with a roommate (be it your best friend, family member, or classmate) can feel like walking on eggshells. With different lifestyles and personalities, something as simple as unloading the dishwasher can turn into World War III. If you hate confrontation, unaddressed tension can build up for months. When you live with a significant other, though, unaddressed tension is not an option. I mean, if you’re living with someone, it’s likely that you want to live with them for many, many more years to come.

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed the way my boyfriend and I have handled conflict has been changing for the better. We talk about everything—pet peeves, daily stresses, and what we need to live our best lives—which helps us learn how we can be great roommates to each other and even better partners.

3 Compromise, compromise

While compromising can apply to any aspect of your relationship, I found it most useful when decorating our space. Shortly after moving into our apartment, we went to a consignment store to find unique pieces for our new home.

As brand new West Coasters, I imagined we would fill our space with light, airy furniture and accessories. (My Pinterest mood board had a lot of rattan.) My dream of easy, breezy California living felt jeopardized when my boyfriend fell in love with a set of dark wood dining chairs. They were sturdy and surprisingly comfortable, and a far cry from anything on my mood board. But when I realized how much he loved these chairs—more than anything else we found that day—I knew we had to make it work.

We searched high and low for a table to match and ultimately found a white, slightly distressed style that fit the bill perfectly. Not only is this combination the perfect blend of our aesthetics, but it also serves as a frequent reminder that a little bit of compromise can be a beautiful thing.

4 Love conquers all

Living with someone isn’t easy—especially if that someone is a person you happen to be in love with. I mean, there’s a reason Kevin McCallister announced in Home Alone that he wanted to live alone when he was grown up and married. But it’s important to always put the love first.

There’s no need to sugarcoat it: Every cohabitation has hurdles to overcome and kinks to work out. But as cheesy as it sounds, I feel so lucky to live with the person I love—and I try my best to never lose sight of it. I love coming home to my sweet, Energizer bunny of a boyfriend. I love sharing our days with excruciating details. And I love how, even when we bicker about who should unload the dishwasher, we can always laugh off our conflicts. I’ll admit, living by yourself is pretty amazing. But when you find the right person, it’s totally worth it.