Additional contributors: Veronica Chavez, Jess Goulart, Bill Tressler
It’s a pivotal point in a romantic relationship: time to move in together (and in some cases, forever).
But as much as you love your partner and want to wake up next to each other every day, that doesn’t mean you necessarily love all of that person’s stuff, or care to have it cluttered all over your own. In the material world, it’s realistic for couples to consolidate their belongings in order to have a more efficient domestic dynamic.
Some of us at BTR have been through this life experience; here’s our advice to others.
Consolidating as a couple can be tough. In my last relationship, my boyfriend and I were very visual-centric and design-obsessed people, so we both had a lot of art and knickknacks. Although our styles often overlapped, when we moved in together it became clear that we had too many things to hang, too many tchotchkes to put on display, and simply not enough space. Instead of making one person the sole decorator, we decided to alternate every month. Not only did this resolve any potential arguments over whose taste should be more prominent, it allowed us to both express ourselves, and actually turned out to be really fun.
I would also advise all couples planning on moving in together and merging their belongings to be realistic. Although, it’s easy to get caught up in the flurry of love and, of course, we all want to believe that our relationships are going to last forever, it’s useful to keep the worst-case-scenario in mind. When my last relationship ended we had the lovely task of divvying up all the electronics and furniture we had purchased together, an ordeal that consisted of a lot of coin flips and rock-paper-scissors matches. Instead of dealing with the awkwardness of splitting up belongings like this, I would suggest that you split the cost of purchases by item. For example, you buy the TV and your partner buys the couch. That way, if things go awry, splitting everything up is an easier task.
My biggest piece of advice is to remember that throwing shit out–just like cleaning your house–is not a one-time thing. You should go through your combined junk every few months and get rid of things you bought replacements for, items you no longer use, decorations that no longer match your lifestyle, and things that irritate you just by existing (no one needs socks with holes in them!). I would say more than once every few months, but I’m a realist.
When my boyfriend and I moved in together we developed a really simple system for deciding what stayed and what went: he drank beer and I made all the decisions. We both ended up exceedingly happy/drunk and I highly recommend you use a similar technique.
Moving in with a significant other can be a difficult process. As you both bring in years worth of clothes and knickknacks (not to mention varying tastes and habits), you’ll realize that cohabitation is an exercise in balance.
Want to mount that beer festival bottle opener on the wall right next to the fridge? Then you’d better let her pick which sheets go on the bed. Want to set up your Xbox One in the bedroom? Then you have to concede that she’ll be watching Gilmore Girls on it from time to time. For both of your sanity, you have to know when to push for things and when to give.
A great way to achieve this balance is to embrace your differing tastes and put them on display. It may be an interior design faux pas, but if you’ve each got a handful of small souvenirs and decorations, buy a shelf to hold them all. There may be no discernible theme, but it’s effective in showcasing your respective backgrounds in a new way.
Oh, and don’t kid yourselves: you’re going to end up sharing deodorant, so start getting used to that sooner rather than later.
It’s expected that when moving in and settling in with your significant other, you will get to know that special person’s personality quite well–a facet of which is what items they like to amass. Your partner’s taste in collecting may peeve you, whether she has too many shoes and cameras or he has too many books and bike accessories.
As such, I’d say the best way to handle this dilemma is not to get all pissy about our partner’s next purchase, but rather decide upon a few select items that you will never buy or not get more than one of. Maybe just keep one set of bed linens closeted and agree to never buy a TV set. If your literature collection is swelling off the bookshelves, try and keep the music media digital.
Feature photo courtesy of Urbane Apartments.