Daniel and I have been dating for almost 2 and 1/2 years. And we have been living together for almost 2 of those years. It might be surprising to some people that we moved in so quickly. We began dating (officially) in December 2008, although I had met him in August. We lived in the same dorm, on the same hall, across from each other. So, we had always been in very close proximity.
After we started dating, things just progressed. The problem was that he lived in North Carolina, and I in New York. We ignored the approaching summer break for as long as we could. I think after I visited him on spring break, we determined that the long distance thing was not right for us. So we discussed it, gingerly at first, and then more seriously. We both began to look for jobs. Once we secured jobs, we discovered Ant Hill, a housing cooperative in Rochester. Although it was one of the best summers I have experienced so far, he was initially much more enthusiastic about living there. For me, it was strange. We decided to visit on one of their potluck nights. They called it Thursgiving, since it was every Thursday. Guests and prospective members were welcome to attend. I was nervous and not sure how to interact with them. Daniel, on the other hand, was excited to meet new people. (And that’s our relationship in a nutshell.)
After I met the members of the co-op, I wanted to live there. Badly. It was in a terrible neighborhood in Rochester, but the people on this particular block were so kind and welcoming.
Our first summer together was pretty seamless, except for the occasional realization that “Oh my god, we’re adult people now! We pay rent!” But, we lived well together.
Now we share an apartment in the Park Avenue neighborhood (a much more lively location). I think many of my friends wonder how (or why) we decided to do it. The answer is that it just felt right.
What does that mean? First and foremost, the following are just my opinions, and I’m not prescribing relationship advice, or telling people what’s wrong or right. This has worked for me, and I want to share it.
First, you have to know them, and I mean really know them. It seems impossible that Daniel and I could “really” know each other after a few months of dating. However, Daniel is the kind of person who is very…full disclosure. He believes in achieving the maximum level of comfort with someone in the least amount of time. It happened naturally, but he was open with me, and he required that I open up to him. To sum up this point: if you can’t fart in front of someone, you can’t live with them. End of story. If you are comfortable with that person seeing a turd in your shared toilet that you forgot to flush, then you are more than ready.
Second, you have to get used to the idea that you can’t just shoo them away if you need some personal time, BUT I think it is important that each person has their own space within a living area. For us, Daniel has his comic book/music loft. I have a study. So if we need to be away from each other to get homework done, or we just need a break, we go to our separate areas. To sum up this point: If you can’t stand to be around a person for a full day, you can’t live with them.
Third, you have to continue to communicate well. (I am assuming you were doing okay before you moved in together.) When we are together, we are rarely silent. It doesn’t matter what is being said, as long as you’re talking. Eventually, something really worthwhile comes out. (And even if it doesn’t, it can still be amusing.) Sometimes we will debate with each other for hours at a time. Recently, we had a very long discussion on whether music could actually be considered a “language”. We also frequently do date nights, which is important for any couple that has begun living together. To sum up this point: Talk. About anything. You don’t even have to say real words. I don’t even know if Daniel understands English.
Fourth, you have to be reasonable. You can’t have unrealistic expectations of your significant other, and you both have to share the chores so that you both feel things are split fairly. There’s a level of self-awareness that needs to attained in order to recognize if you are being reasonable or unreasonable. If you get into a fight, you can’t just break up, you have to make an effort to work it out. Although Daniel and I don’t fight very often, we are quick to realize who is at fault and correct the situation. There are no grudges. You can’t fall asleep next to someone that you will wake up resenting. To sum up this point: Don’t be a psychotic a-hole.
Finally, you must share similar ideas of what’s fun (and what’s not), what’s clean (and what isn’t), what looks good (and what doesn’t). To sum it up: You must have similar interests. If you don’t, should you be dating in the first place?