How To Have The Talk About Leaving Stuff At Your Partner's Place
A toothbrush, a tampon, and a pair of bathing suit bottoms — that's what I would want with me if I were stranded on a remote island. Kidding. Those are actually the first items I ever left at a partner's place. Although we had been dating for about two years at the time, I was terrified of coming across as clingy or possessive when in reality, leaving stuff at his place was just a practical thing to do at this point.
I packed my essentials into a tiny makeup pouch and took it with me on the day that I planned to bring this up. We were going swimming anyway, so the items seemed more like backup for the actual day than a long-term storage situation.
After we'd gotten out of the pool and showered, I asked, "Hey, do you mind if I leave an emergency tampon here or is that weird?" I tried to sound way more calm than I actually felt inside. I could have led with the toothbrush but it was too late now. Luckily, it didn't matter. He was totally fine with it. He even cleared a shelf in his bathroom for my tiny pouch, which was simultaneously cute and a little ridiculous. But I got his point. He didn't care if I needed to leave more than just the essentials there and I appreciated the gesture.
Admittedly, I was just winging it. I didn't know if there was a right or wrong way to ask this question and I certainly didn't know what to expect. If, like me, you could use some help in this department, I asked Rachel DeAlto, relationship expert and coach, and Damona Hoffman, host of the Dates & Mates Podcast, to break down the process. So here it is: How To Have The Talk About Leaving Stuff At Your Partner's Place 101.
Ask Ahead Of Time
Even it's as simple as leaving your contact solution in their medicine cabinet, you should still ask permission before doing so. "Otherwise it feels like you’re sneaking into a deeper commitment," DeAlto says. You definitely don't want to pull an Andie Anderson in How to Lose A Guy In 10 Days when she stocks her new boyfriend's bathroom cabinets with the entire feminine products aisle.
Hoffman explains that asking in advance "conveys respect for your partner's space and their wishes." It's important to let your partner know that you're not trying to invade their space or make them uncomfortable. You just want to make some minor adjustments to accommodate your sleeping arrangements if you find yourself staying over multiple times a week.
But Don't Rush Into It
DeAlto says, "There’s no need to rush this — or relationships for that matter. Ideally, you wait until it’s offered! People move at different paces, and there is no reason to freak them out or make them feel pressured over a pair of pants." Seriously, it's not worth it.
If your partner is on the quiet side or rarely takes initiative in your relationship, you might not be able to wait on them to bring this up. That's when it's time to take matters into your own hands.
The best time to have this conversation is after you've defined the relationship, not before. Hoffman explains, "If you don't even know that you're together yet, it's far too early to start intertwining your lives. Just remember that anything you leave there will have to be retrieved if it doesn't work out so don't make this decision hastily." She's right. I mean, could you really stand to lose that cute thong with the bow at the back?
Don't Make A Big Deal Out Of It, Either
When you do decide you're ready to take the plunge, try to keep the conversation light. DeAlto says, "There’s no need to make them feel like a toothbrush is one step away from engagement. A simple, 'Hey! Do you mind if I leave a toothbrush here? It just feels silly to bring one back and forth all the time,' will do."
Although this might feel like a huge step forward in your relationship, you shouldn't take it for granted that your partner feels the same way. Hoffman tells Elite Daily, "Don't assume that this means your relationship has escalated to another level. The only way you can tell that is through your partner's words and actions going forward. A toothbrush for convenience is simply that, a convenience. If your partner agrees to let you leave it, it's an acknowledgment that they like having you around but not necessarily indicative of a trip to the altar in the near future."
Transparency is your best bet, here. It might be important to you that your partner know why you'd like to leave a change of clothes at their place. If, like Hoffman points out, it's all about convenience, make that known. On the other hand, if you'd like this to signal a step forward in your relationship, you might want to frame your question a bit differently. Try something like, "Hey, I've been spending a lot of time here lately and I was wondering if I could leave a few things for when I spend the night?" It's still relatively casual but it's more about the status of your relationship than it is about you combatting morning breath since you acknowledge this new routine in your relationship.
However you decide to go about it, don't claim a drawer at your partner's place without so much as asking them about it first. Not everyone is OK with sharing their personal space and that's OK.