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7 Tips to Cohabiting: an amateur’s guide pt.1

So, as I’ve shared with you in my last couple posts, I have now successfully cohabited with my partner for one full month. It may not seem like a lot (it kinda isn’t—I know), but I just wanted to make a just-for-fun blog about my experience of cohabiting thus far. Growing up being kind of basic (ha), I read fashion and Cosmo magazines… A lot of them teach readers who have overnight visits from their significant others to “keep up the romance” by hiding the not-so-hot, but essential living items. The advice tells young women to hide their tampons, older but comfy cotton panties, and blemish creams and hair removal creams. Do you recall those articles? Do you still read them, and do you follow them word for word? My advice (take it however you like) is not to*.

As I have grown older, I have come to realize that their advice is not really necessary. Of course, practice good hygiene, clean up after yourself and keep tidy, but there is no need to internally freak out, wondering if your man will find your granny panties or hair removal creams. Are you one of those girls that must fully shave, pamper, and maintain a completely polished look before going out on a date? Though I, myself, will always shave or keep myself hairless (except on my head and eyebrows) but that is never for any man—I don’t like body hair, and I will happily and routinely do it for myself. It’s easier now since I have undergone laser hair removal (worth every penny, ladies), but let’s get back to the subject. While I fully condone doing so on the first few dates, or for important dates and occasions… but truthfully—after dating someone for so long, especially if you spend nights together often, it isn’t life or death if you didn’t shave your legs, or use a charcoal face mask around him. Trust me. It’s fine. 

blurrykiss
Blurred, because he’s PDA-on-Camera-shy.

I remember one of the sweetest things my partner said to me, in the beginning of our relationship. At first, I was surprised, then suspicious because I was taken aback; I wasn’t expecting to hear him compliment me and say “I love it when you wear your retainers to bed with me. I think you look adorable.” I remember raising an eyebrow at him, wondering if he was joking (he had to be, right? Retainers aren’t cute). Surely, as we grew together as a couple, I learned that my confidence in being completely myself when he’s sleeping over, as I removed my makeup, pulled on an old t-shirt, and put my retainers in, just warmed his heart—he told me it makes him feel warm and fuzzy because it shows I am truly comfortable with him. And it’s true, I am happy with him, and he makes me feel pretty no matter what (even bedhead in the morning, retainers and all). He is a man of sincerity, and often his kind words just completely make my day. I think every girl deserves someone like him (except he’s taken, so…) And since then, there were several other occasions where he’d showed me that it is okay to be my true self. We are the silly couple type. We can be 100% completely ourselves around each other, and it’s a truly liberating feeling. No judgement. We are adults now, and we know how bodies work and function—we don’t need to hold anything back for the sake of forced politeness or pretend-romance. This is kind of when I knew I could probably live with him. Literally.

baron-bamboo-lu
No kitties were harmed in the making of this photo! Just a slight “forced love” situation going on…

So fast-forward 30 days from our first night together in our shared home (we call it The Octopod House) we are happy—with each other and with our home sweet home! Some things I have learned when it comes to sharing living quarters with another individual:

1. Did you know, that when someone moves in with you they bring all their stuff? I am still struggling to find a better system for our closet so that his shirts and suits aren’t smushed off to one side because my must-be-hung items have taken over 90% of the available closet space we have. I have so much stuff, I am amazed at my hoarding every time I move. I have been improving a lot; I’ve downsized much of my wardrobe and shoe collection, and I will probably make another spring cleaning soon. His two bedside tables have no room in our bedroom, and for now, they just live in the den—which is his space; will elaborate.

2. If being clean and tidy is as important to you as it is to me (I am borderline OCD), then you first must establish a do’s and don’ts and general housekeeping rules so that you’re not left with a “surprise” of leftover dishes in the sink, or candy wrappers on the couch, or smelly socks on the floor. Make sure you both know the threshold that is “acceptable” between the two of you, and ensure that you’re not the only one left picking up after him (hey, this goes both ways and if you’re picking up after your lady all the time, let her know, gentlemen!) For us, I primarily vacuum and mop, do the dishes, and do the laundry, while he primarily cooks our meals, get groceries, and takes out the trash and recycling.

3. Go even further with the house rules, and establish a separate “dirty clothes hamper” and an “even dirtier clothes hamper” with your boo, especially if he works in labour or generally dirtier line of work than you do. My boo does architectural concrete (think SFU in Burnaby), and I am in administration. My “dirty clothes” are much less dirty than his clothes from work. And to remedy any possible frustration or sadness—in case his work clothes stains my nicer work clothes—we have agreed upon two separate hampers where we put our stuff. His gym clothes are O.K. to go with my dirty laundry, I guess.

deviledeggs
He makes some mean deviled eggs! Excellent boyfriend chef. 100% recommend trying his cooking.

4. Try to cook meals together, to establish closeness, achievement, teamwork—and to ensure you both can eat sooner. I am not the chef at our home, and so we have established a system that works for us: most of the time, he makes the dinners, while I putter around, clean cat litter, and tidy up the home. But we enjoy spending time together in the kitchen (food is the key to both our hearts, clearly) and so every other day we like to help each other with either food prep, meal ideas, or trying new dishes. We try to cook at home more, and avoid eating out—but we still enjoy our dinner dates around the city from time to time. It’s a good balance.

extremepho
Enjoying some EXTREME pho. lol @ W. Broadway

5. Speaking of cat litter, if you have a pet that you brought in prior to cohabiting, it is safe to assume that YOU are the main person responsible for cleaning up after your pooch or kitty (or iguana, what-have-you). It’s reasonable, isn’t it? It is also okay to ask your partner to help you occasionally, but you should never begin to slack off when it was your pet, to begin with. I do the litter scooping in our house. It simply makes sense; Bamboo has been with me for 4 years, and he’s my kitty. The love is shared, and that’s also important (can’t live with someone who ultimately hates your pet…!!!) My love spends the time playing and cuddling the kitty while I clean.

KrakIt-escapegame
My birthday treat: an escape game with friends! @ KrakIt, Burnaby

6. Find new hobbies to do together to keep the excitement going. Shortly after moving in together, a lot of new couples may forget to continue “dating” each other, and sometimes getting too-too comfortable living with each other can cause a serious douse in the flames. Never stop courting. The effort is felt from within, so keep on radiating your love and your actions should continue to show it! Maybe you both can drop in to a salsa, or ballroom dance class and have a go at it! Or maybe, as a return of favour for dragging him to a couples’ dance class you can join him at the gym and lift some weights together. For us, we make crafts together, play video games together (I like the non-scary, cutesy video games, so he reserves some nights for gaming together), play board games together (!!!!), and go for walks along the bustling neighbourhood that is Commercial Drive. We have recently decided to do yoga and stretching at home together, and come sunnier days we plan to go biking and hiking together.

dinosaurfuck
Getting crafty, ft. meteor and a doomed dino.

7. Just as important as #6, don’t forget to maintain your individual (possibly entirely separate) hobbies or activities! Support each other in things that make you both different! My boo is recently helping me with tuition so that I can focus more on my studies, and less on student debt—even though he’s not a scholar type (not in uni) he knows it’s important to me, and he is willing to help me make my dreams come true. What a generous, amazing, and beautiful soul he is! I can’t express my gratitude more. And as mentioned in #1, the den is my boyfriend’s, because I have already taken up most of the bedroom with my own belongings, and my free reign on decorating has taken over the entire house… So in order to ensure a happy man, he can keep the den as his own “man cave”. I’m okay with it; I got to decorate the rest of the house with cute pictures and girly quotes, after all. My love has a bad hip and has a bad history with his knee, so he will likely sit out for ski seasons, and it’s totally fine because I can enjoy the slopes with my friends. He is a lover of video games, and has quite the collection of retro games and consoles, he likes to invite a friend or two over to play games (games I don’t particularly enjoy) or play guitar, and I encourage him to do so. Me-time is important. A lot of couples (cohabiting or not) forget to retain their own unique personalities, and may wind up being one entity instead of two—be you, stay you! It’s the reason your partner fell in love with you in the first place!

movienightchips
Movie night at our humble abode, The Octopod.

This has only been our first month cohabiting with each other, so I decided to title it Part 1, as I’m sure more insights will surface with more experience. Anything to add to this list? Any tips for those cohabitation veterans out there? Happy living!

*Note: I think this dialogue has to go both ways—men should be taught to see women in the raw, to embrace natural beauty and not focus on how the media or society try to show how women should be. Men, don’t be so harsh or judge-y on your girl. If you truly love and care for her, you should encourage her to be confident in her own skin. Encourage her that she is beautiful, first thing in the morning. After all, whatever you water and nurture, will bloom the most. So focus on her beauty in all aspects—dressed up or in the raw. And ladies, if it is your man that ever pressures you to wear more makeup, or insist you must dress up when you go out with him, or makes you feel insecure about your body in any which way… Walk away, girl. Thank him for letting you go, and go soar into greatness. You are worth it. He must know that. 

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