Adulting: How to Get Your Ish Together | Moving In Together (+Our First Valentine's Day Story!)
I met Jake in September 2014. We started dating in October 2014. He graduated in May 2015 and moved to Chicago. I graduated May 2017 and moved to Chicago
That means that we spent eight months together in college before dating long distance for two years. (P.S. I’ll write a post about how to survive long distance relationships another time). Finally, this spring he proposed and this summer we moved in together and put an end to long distance for good.
As Valentine’s Day is coming up, I’m feeling all the feels this year. This will be only the second Valentine’s Day Jake and I have spent together (out of four in our relationship). To me this Valentine’s Day is a symbol of the strength of our relationship. This Valentine’s Day is a reminder that we made it. We made it through the distance, the late-night Skype calls, the tears, the goodbyes and the heartache of loving someone who is hundreds of miles away. We made it and we have the future ahead of us.
It’s also a reminder of how far we’ve come since we moved in together. So today, I want to share some of the lessons we’ve learned during the transition from long distance to roommates.
Adulting: How to Get Your Ish Together | Relationships | Moving In Together
Transitioning from long distance to roommates is a challenge, but it is also super fun because you get to do it with your best friend. Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned along the way, and a few nuggets of advice for anyone moving in with a significant other.
1) Maintain your space
One of the best things about long distance relationships (really the only good thing) is that you have the space and time to grow into your own individual person, all while having the comfort of a relationship and a best friend cheering you on. When we first moved in together, I became very clingy in a sense (sorry Jake!) because I kept feeling like I only had a little bit of time with him. I felt like it was a short weekend trip where we spent every second together. I was confused and hurt when he’d want a guys night because I felt like I was running out of time with him. After a few months, I realized that neither of us were going anywhere and we had all the time in the world left. I could afford to give him and myself some space for a few hours. I started making my own girl friends, I started taking new workout classes and I started carving in some time where I could watch Say Yes to the Dress while he went out with friends. Learning to maintain that same personal growth space we had while long distance was a challenge but it is worth it.
2) Spend time together
After a few weeks, we really started to take the time we had together for granted. We lived together so the other person was always there, and we didn’t need to put in the effort to spend time together. We didn’t have to consciously plan out Skype date nights or special weekends together. Slowly, we realized we missed having dedicated time together and didn’t feel as connected when we were only talking about work and who would do the dishes. We instituted our weekly date nights—once a week we would go to a movie, dinner or have a phone-free movie/wine & cheese night at home where we could really focus on each other, our relationship and have those deep conversations that connect you to each other. Just because we live together does not mean we stop dating each other.
3) Compromise (This one is from Jake!)
One lesson I’ve learned is how to compromise. Learning not to make a big deal out of tiny things is important. Learning to be accommodating to each other’s habits but not imposing certain habits I may have had before is also important. Compromise helps keep conversations healthy and avoids useless fights.
4) Mesh your styles
This is a general moving in lesson but when I first moved in it was very much a guy’s room: black and grey sheets, sports flags hung on the walls and video games spread everywhere. Over the summer, we slowly started adding in a few more girly items—white and blue bedding, a wooden “home” sign above the bed, and a bamboo plant. Learning to mesh our styles and make it homey for both of us has been fun (and frustrating at times).
5) Do chores together
There are certainly chores that Jake and I prefer—I don’t mind doing the dishes, he takes out the trash. I don’t mind cleaning the bathroom sink, he doesn’t mind washing to bathtub. I don’t mind dusting, he doesn’t mind vacuuming—you get the point. Learning which chores you and your significant other can divide and conquer helps avoid any conflict or one person doing all the housework. Jake and I normally do the chores together. So, I dust while he vacuums or I wash dishes when he takes out the trash (and he helps me dry the dishes). We also do laundry together, because living in a city where you don’t have a machine in your apartment is a pain. Doing chores together makes it fun.
6) Trial roommates
Jake and I lived together for about eight weeks the summer before my senior year. I wanted to make sure I liked Chicago before moving here, and we wanted to make sure we could live together before actually making it permanent. I was terrified because I knew if we couldn’t live together as roommates, what future did we have? That’s eventually the next step and I’d argue one of the most important ones. Becoming a roommate with your significant other means you are blending both your lives—friends, family, finances, health, eating habits, cleanliness, etc. is all out in the open when you live together. While it is liberal, I do believe people should live together before marriage, or at least spend a certain amount of time at each other’s homes. Luckily, for Jake and I, it couldn’t have gone any better and living together for the summer solidified that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together (and it’s when he--unknowingly to me-- bought the ring!).
Maybe this Valentine’s Day means nothing to you, or maybe it is a significant milestone in your relationship. Maybe it’s a time you are considering the big move or contemplating where your relationship is heading. Regardless, I hope these lessons can give you a little insight into transition periods and what it’s like moving in with a boyfriend/girlfriend. Keep in mind that every relationship is different and this is just what I learned in mine.
No matter what, I hope you all have a holiday full of love, joy and happiness.
BONUS: Jake + I’s Valentine’s Day Story
First, let me say that Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday—I love the cheesiness, the colors, the chocolates, the teddy bears, etc.
I have several of my friends say that Jake and I have a beautiful relationship and we look so cute together. We appreciate those kind words and have really worked hard to build and maintain our strong bond. What most don’t know is that when Jake and I first started dating, we fought. We did not get along and disagreed on a lot. We even broke up for a week before trying it again. We almost broke up again the week before Valentine’s Day. We both knew that the holiday was going to make or break our relationship and honestly, I thought it might be one of our last dates. Thank goodness I was wrong!
Jake knew that I loved Valentine’s Day and for six weeks leading up to it, he planned an elaborate day of surprises of me. I woke up to a letter, balloons and chocolates. In the letter was a single rose petal. Later that afternoon, Jake arrived with a bouquet of roses and a letter. This time the letter told me where we were going for dinner and had two rose petals. Jake took me to the Melting Pot and we had a wonderful time. It was one of the best dates we had. He took me back to his apartment and blindfolded me as he lead me through the rooms. In one room, there was a third letter with three rose petals, a Happy Valentine’s Day sign and a contract (dated and signed) that he would watch any romantic movie I wanted. I chose The Notebook, of course. In the next room, Jake prepared a playlist of romantic songs (I have complained earlier that week that we didn’t have a song). All of those songs are incorporated into our wedding. In the next room, all the surfaces were covered with rose petals and a stuffed animal husky awaited me because we had talked about getting a husky in the future.
It was the most generous day of surprises someone had ever planned for me, and really showed me how well Jake knew me. I knew that some point during that Valentine’s Day is the moment that I fell in love with him. It wasn’t the surprises. It was the connection we had that day—we spent six hours that night just talking about our goals, dreams, past and everything else in between. He became my best friend that night. It was the start of a beautiful, blissful few months before he moved away to Chicago. As Jake puts it, he’s surprised how much love we crammed in from Valentine’s Day to graduation!
The next two Valentine’s Days that followed he always sent flowers and teddy bears and chocolates. He is always so thoughtful!
I can’t wait to spend this Valentine’s Day together and engaged!