Ah, young love. You meet the right person. They say and do all the right things. Your heart flutters. You start spending more time with each other. Before long, you start talking about the next step: moving in together! It might even be sooner rather than later if you happen to live in a particularly competitive housing or rental market. And what’s the harm? After all, you know they’re The One.
But no matter how much you think you know, there are some things you’ll never be certain of until you share the same space. Such as…
Truth No. 1: How committed they are … to cleanliness
Maybe your amore has a habit of building a leaning tower of Papa John’s pizza boxes next to the trash can. Or maybe whenever you come over, they toss a week’s worth of dirty clothes that covered the floor into a closet—making you none the wiser about their hygiene habits.
Although they might have duped you with their camouflage tactics, be prepared for a harsh reality check when you share a space.
Love nest lesson: Agree on a definition of “clean,” and then stick to it. Lived-in clutter is one thing, but let it get out of hand and it won’t be long until your love nest becomes a biohazard—and your pairing becomes more damaged than U.S.–Australian relations.
Don’t put one person in charge of cleaning, either. Divide and conquer is the best strategy here. Find out which tasks each of you doesn’t totally despise, and then create a chore chart. Even if both of you are epically lazy, cleaning doesn’t have to be that hard.
Truth No. 2: Your decor styles will differ
Your style is straight out of Pinterest while they have Funko Pop/Star Wars figurines/obscure B movie poster collections that are their pride and joy. Remember: When you’re living with someone, you’re also living with their stuff, so you’ll need to learn how to incorporate your two styles—however impossible that may initially seem.
Love nest lesson: Like so many other things about relationships, this is all about compromise. Put those brick X-wings in shadow boxes. Find the figurines a home on your color-coded bookshelf. Get those posters professionally framed. You’re sharing your lives, so you’ll have to learn to share your space. You don’t have to spend a fortune redecorating, either—you can do it on the cheap.
Truth No. 3: You’ll learn the difference between what’s yours, mine, and ours
As you prepare to move in together, compile lists of what you need, what one or both of you already have, and what you still need. My boyfriend and I realized that we both owned the entire “Harry Potter” series, but we kept mine because I had them all—including “Cursed Child” and the Hogwarts textbook collection—in hardcover. Which couch we take, on the other hand, is still a point of contention.
Love nest lesson: You’re going to be moving two people’s entire possessions into one space, so you’re both going to have to downsize. Accept that you’re both going to compromise and purge some things. Maybe lots of things. You might be sharing your lives and your space, but be considerate. And remember, some things—your toothbrush and your razor, for example—are sacred.
Truth No. 4: The importance of personal space
You think you want to spend every waking moment with this person now, but if you sign a yearlong lease and you’re dying for a moment alone five months later, don’t say that you weren’t warned. This might be the hardest lesson to learn while you’re still in the honeymoon phase, but the sooner you do, the smoother your transition from single apartment to cozy love nest will be.
Love nest lesson: Just having a bedroom door between you can work wonders when one of you needs “me time.” But if you’re splitting a studio, curtains are just one of many ways to break up the room without sacrificing on space.
And, at the risk of indulging in buzzkill, we’ll also suggest this: You might want to have an exit plan in place. Nobody wants to discover six months in to a yearlong lease that they just can’t take it anymore. But if you do, you should at least know a smart way out that won’t leave you single and broke. There, you’ve been warned. Happy Valentine’s Day!