Moving in with your SO is arguably one of the biggest decisions you can make in your relationship. For one, it says you foresee a future together. Secondly, it also means you’ll be taking the relationship to a new level of intimacy: picking out furniture together, paying bills together, and of course, sharing a bathroom. Which begs the question: how do you keep a relationship exciting after moving in together? Indeed, you're bound to get in a groove with someone when you're living with them 24/7, and while that's totally normal and healthy, it also has the potential to make your relationship feel unpleasantly routine.
There are obviously tons of perks to living with your partner (and no, I’m not just referring to saving money on rent). In addition to having sleepovers with bae every night, you get to wake up to your favorite face in the world every morning. There's no pressure to go out on a Friday night, and whipping up lazy Sunday brunches becomes the norm. So it's no surprise that people experience a greater feeling of emotional well-being after moving in with a partner, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Family Psychology.
Still, while cohabiting comes with some real rewards, it also comes with some challenges as well. When you’re living with your SO, you’re not only inherently spending more time around them, but you’re also taking on some new household responsibilities together while also trying to make sure you each maintain some semblance of personal space. The bottom line is this: It can get all too easy to start accidentally taking your partner for granted.
As relationship expert Susan Winter explains, “After having lived together for awhile, we become familiar with our mate’s patterns and responses. Predictability makes our partnership appear less exciting than the early days of getting to know each other.”
However, cohabiting doesn’t have to kill the romance — as long as you make a concerted effort to continually seek out fresh ways to infuse novelty into your relationship. Here are some foolproof ways to keep the spark alive with bae once you become roomies.
Make standing plans to GTFO.
The reality is, you may find that you need to schedule date nights once you move in with your partner. Now that you’re seeing each other on the daily, it’s a lot more convenient to just stay in night after night. And while most of us can appreciate some Netflix and chill time on a rainy Friday night, you'll want to avoid falling into a rut of resorting to routine activities.
Remember at the beginning of your relationship, when you would put a lot of time and effort planning a date to impress your SO? Maybe you hunted down tickets to an improv comedy show that happened to be near to a new wine bar you both were dying to check out, or maybe you put together a scrumptious night picnic to take to the park. Don’t stop planning these special date nights once you move in together — in fact, you’ll need them now more than ever. These are the shared experiences that will reinvigorate your appreciation for each other, while also giving you new memories to look back on fondly.
“The focus of the date needs to foster attention on our mate, rather than our incoming text messages or work projects,” says Winter. “A high-quality date with your partner is one that’s well crafted to allow you both to relax and enjoy each other’s company.”
Winter suggests opting for activities that are out of the ordinary for you and your SO. She says, “Go somewhere you’ve never gone before. Do something you’ve never done before. Shake up your relationship by adding new components that excite both you and your partner. Ballroom dancing class? Horseback riding? Mini golf? A day kayaking? How about a quick out-of-town trip to a neighboring city?”
Consider dedicating one night a week or two for date night. You can either switch off taking the responsibility for planning it, or collaborate on the planning together.
Shortly after my boyfriend and I started dating, we began building a list of experiences we wanted to share together. We've collaborated on this list, which we can both edit in our iPhone Notes app, gradually adding new things as they come up in conversation, including such adventures as skinny-dipping, making pesto with garden-fresh basil, singing a duet at a karoke bar, and hitting the driving range. Starting one of these with your SO can be helpful — as date night approaches, you can refer back to the list for a plethora of ideas. Plus, it's oh-so-satisfying to cross them off the list as you tackle each goal.
Invite people over.
Chances are, you and your significant other have a few friends in common, whether it’s a coworker you met through, another couple you have double dates with, or simply friends from college that you now share. As it turns out, that’s a great thing. According to a 2013 report released by Facebook, couples with overlapping social networks are less likely to break up. Try taking advantage of that by inviting some mutual friends over to your digs for a casual shindig. This will foster some positive memories in your new home together, and will also encourage you to maintain your social life (which can be all too easy to neglect when you live with your best friend).
Don’t have a lot of mutual friends? That’s all the more reason to start planning small gatherings at your abode. That way, you can potentially inspire some overlap between your friend circles. Besides, hosting a soirée is a fun way to show off your shared home. The best part? After your guests have left, you’ll have lots to talk about with your partner during the post-party analysis while you finish that last bottle of wine and tidy up.
Keep surprising each other.
The early stages of a relationship are ripe with surprises. Between learning your partner’s passions and pet peeves and figuring out each other's turn-ons in the bedroom, there is so much to learn and discover. Of course, getting to know each other better can only strengthen your bond. However, that element of surprise can start to fade over time — if you don’t work at infusing it into your relationship, things can start to feel rather predictable. And since surprise is what can keep people intrigued and excited by the relationship, it’s worth making an effort to incorporate it whenever you can.
In fact, a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family revealed that small acts of kindness and displays of affection are very positively associated with relationship satisfaction.
There are many ways to surprise your partner. Small acts like grabbing a smoothie from your SO’s favorite spot on your way home from work or slipping a homemade cookie into their work bag can go a long way. Or you can save up and surprise your partner with an elaborate date night or weekend trip you planned.
You may want to consider the love languages when scheming your surprise. For example, if your partner’s love language is physical touch, then they’re sure to appreciate a spontaneous massage when they get home from a long work day. Or if they respond well to acts of service, then you might decide to cross a repair project off their to-do list when they're having an especially busy week or bring them breakfast in bed on a Monday morning when you know they're dreading a meeting.
There are countless reasons why you’ll likely want to start getting busy in the kitchen with your boo. For one, it can save you a lot of money to make meals at home rather than constantly ordering delivery or going out. Secondly, cooking is an activity that’s rich with bonding potential. Preparing a dish forces you both to be present because you have to focus on the task at hand, but also offers a chance to talk about your day in a non-mundane way.
Cooking together also presents the opportunity for you both to learn something in the process. If your SO is a master at chopping vegetables, they may be able to teach you a thing or two. Then you can share your pro tip on caramelizing those veggies. In other words, cooking allows you and your partner to trade skills and grow together. If your dish turns out to be a dud, you can both laugh about it and order some Thai takeout (it’ll make a good story a year from now once you’ve perfected that dish). Alternatively, if you manage to pull together a successful meal, it’ll taste even better knowing that you made it together. Not to mention, sharing household tasks (like cooking) in a relationship tends to lead to more frequent, better sex, according to a 2012 study published in the American Sociological Review.
Leave a note.
These days, we tend to communicate primarily over text, with the occasional phone call pepper in when you want to hear your partner’s voice or discuss something at length. Communication obviously plays a big role in maintaining a healthy, happy relationship, and shaking up the way you communicate with your SO can help to keep things exciting. Before you moved in together, you may have exchanged “good morning” or “good night” texts, and you may have been more likely to shoot a text just to say you were thinking of them. Finding new ways to express your feelings to each other will ensure that neither of you feels taken for granted.
A handwritten note is sure to bring a smile to bae’s face when they find it in their wallet or gym bag. Or if you’re leaving for work before them, why not write them a little note on the bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker or washable crayon? You could even record a voice memo on their phone to listen to while they’re away on a work trip or mail them a love letter to your own apartment. Whichever means you choose, verbalizing your love is bound to boost the spark in your relationship because it reinforces what you appreciate about each other while also making you feel appreciated yourself.
The key to infusing excitement into your relationship after moving in together is to continually pursue new experiences together while also finding new ways to demonstrate that you value each other.
"This is what keeps us awake and growing as individuals, and keeps our partnership alive and flourishing," says Winter. "If you want the quality of your relationship to be something extraordinary, you need to continually put in your time and effort to make it so.”
It may take a little more work to keep the fire burning once you're cohabitating with your partner, but it's well worth the effort. Undoubtedly, living together can strengthen your bond in a serious way, and if you can constantly seek out strategies to shake things up, you're sure to feel like becoming roomies was the best relationship decision you ever made.
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