Sporting my Jamba Juice cashier uniform, I asked, “Can I get you anything else?” “Your number,” said the rather charming retail store clerk — and three months later, we found ourselves converting the garage of my mother’s house into a space of our very own. The prospect of us moving in together at the peak of honeymoon period seemed like a total dream, but were we moving too quickly? However, finances, distance and sheer hope told us that moving in together would be the best option. However, we broke up eight months later, but on great terms.
Looking back, we hardly knew each other, really, and the initial butterflies wilted when more than just bills started to pile up. If I had realized the importance of open communication, mutual acceptance, alone time and friendship priorities, I think our relationship would have been a lot more fruitful. Because I was dating someone I thoroughly enjoyed spending every moment with, I made little room for many of my other friends, and when I did spend time with them, I used them as an escape from my boyfriend. When I had problems, I immediately went to them and began to fester resentment for my partner instead of opening up a dialogue about what I was experiencing with him.
That was my biggest mistake. Good couples get counseling; great couples counsel themselves — that is not to say that relationships must exist in a vacuum, but making your problems everyone else’s and creating a dynamic where your friends know more about the workings of your relationship than you do will throw a few wrenches into your relationship.
Further, experiencing tension without the luxury of escape or alone time can become very challenging as well. On my off time, I like to read books and paint, and he likes to play video games with friends. Balancing and respecting each other’s time and needs became a topic of conversation constantly. We negotiated this by cultivating safe spaces that didn’t exist within our common area; I’ve seen this come up in other live-in relationships as well.
My roommate and I have a girlfriend who lived with her partner for six years when he began to get abusive, so she started searching for escape routes. We opened our home to her as a safe space to venture when times got challenging, and she was able to get out. This is another reason why continuing to cultivate friendships outside the immediate partnership can provide great strength and comfort.
Another girlfriend wasn’t so lucky; she signed a lease agreement with her partner of seven years, and he turned out to be toxic to her and her household, so she asked him to leave, and she continues to carry the financial burden of her decision. Lease agreements are no joke, so comfort and past history are not enough to determine whether your partner will be financially and emotionally responsible.
Within these words of caution, rests some light advice — the greatest moments I shared with my partner were when we went out of our way for each other. We’d cook together and dress up even when we were at home. We would make handmade notes, leave surprises for each other, open our friend groups to each other and would sometimes create things together.
Being romantic and continuing to court each other does not have to break the bank or end, for that matter, once domestication has been established. Even tough individuals may be very different from one another and exploring those differences instead of trying to alter them can make relationship dynamics powerful and unique! These beautiful moments cannot flourish unless financial stability can be maintained. Making sure the necessities are taken care of can be one of the most romantic experiences a couple can share.