by Tyler Calder

Ask any homebody and they’ll tell you that living solo means endless opportunities for sacred alone time. So what do you do when you’re fiercely introverted and ready to move in with your significant other? Well, the only real option is to grow together (and to invest in a great set of headphones).

When I moved in with my boyfriend earlier this year, we both had to relearn how to live with another person because we’d both been living solo for quite some time. Once I realized that joining lives meant the TV would be on a little more often, and he realized that some pillows are solely for ~decorative purposes~, we were able to find joy in carving out our little corner of the world together.

Once you’ve decided the time is right (emotionally and financially) to combine home lives, you can shift your focus to creating a space that feels safe, relaxing, and comfortable for both of you.

1. Save your IKEA trip for next week – or better yet, the week after.

The couples’ IKEA trip has become the relationship trope of a generation, and frankly, I blame 500 Days of Summer. It’s the rite of passage we never asked for – especially on an already-chaotic move-in weekend. Quick secret: It’s okay if your home isn’t outfitted to perfection the moment you move in. Save yourself the design debates and overwhelming crowds, and push this trip off ‘til you’ve had time to navigate the space together for a bit.

2. Choose joint and solo seating wisely.

Chances are you’ll spend a ton of joint time in bed and on your couch, but don’t let these spaces hog all the glory. Make sure to think through individual seating too – because creating spaces to “get away” in your own home can be comforting for any introvert. Like to read? See if you can find room for a reading nook. Work long hours? You can probably make a very convincing argument for a desk. Are you a maker of some sort? Find a way to incorporate a workbench where you can pursue your solo craft.

3. Nobody should have to throw away all their stuff.

The “what do we have two of” conversation is one you’ll have early as you try to jigsaw puzzle your lives together. Most things, you’ll likely find, one of you will be happy to get rid of – others, not so much. While it’s important to pare down clutter and doubles, your home can run successfully with two record players, if both have meaning to you. Plus, it gives you an excuse to have one in the bedroom and one in the living room, making a space that stays true to both of your desires to play that one vinyl you bought during your indie phase in college.

4. Talk about on- and off-times for hosting.

If you lived alone previously, you’re probably used to having people over whenever you want (or as rarely as you please!). If you or your partner is an introvert, talk about when you like to host, what type of hosting you like to do (Is there cooking involved? Do things get rowdy?), and if there are any times that are a hard no (Mondays? The day your favorite show is on?). Hosting can be one of the most enjoyable parts of cohabitating (plus, they’re a great excuse to stay in!); but it’s important to make sure you’re on the same page and aware of quiet time or any not-so-open door policies.

5. Have the cleaning conversation early.

Last, but certainly not least – let’s talk cleaning. It’s the Achilles heel of many otherwise-happy couples; but getting ahead of it could be the trick that makes it all less painful. If your homebody tendencies keep you in often, chances are you probably know the exact threshold of how messy your space can get before you start to lose your mind. Talk to your partner about cleaning styles – what each of you enjoys cleaning, what you can’t stand, and how often you think different cleaning tasks are appropriate. For instance, does one of you have an extreme aversion to the discoveries that come with cleaning the fridge? That’s worth noting.

If you’re lucky, your cleaning styles will be complementary; and if you’re not, you’ll each have to compromise a bit. If your finances allow, don’t be ashamed to bring in the pros intermittently for a quick supplementary clean. If it means keeping the peace as you adjust to cohabitation, you’ll certainly be happy you did it.

Lede image by @monicawangphoto.

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