"It's so easy to find a large, affordable apartment," said no one ever. It's tough to find a space that works for you, and you may feel like your home isn't as big as you want it to be. This can be especially true if you share with someone else, such as a romantic partner. When you share a small space with a partner, you may have the combination of roommate issues and relationship issues to contend with (plus, the most terrifying of all — the thought that someone else might be eating your peanut butter). This can be tricky, so I have compiled some tips to make it easier for you.
I learned how to share when I was in kindergarten, but no one warned me about "Sharing Level Two: My Boyfriend Is Using My Toothpaste." Sharing an apartment with a significant other is a whole new ballgame, and you're not alone if you find it tricky (you're also not alone in your home, which can be part of the problem). Even if you have a wonderful relationship with your partner and you love being around them, you may run into difficulties sharing a small space, and that doesn't mean your relationship is in any sort of trouble. It just means you could benefit from setting boundaries in your home, which I can help with.
Read on to find nine tips for setting boundaries in a small space.
1. Be Clear About Food Distribution
Maybe you share food or maybe you don't. Either is totally normal, it just might be helpful to clarify this up top so that your partner knows what your boundaries are. (And, if you're anything like me, maybe you share vegetables because you don't really eat those anyway, but you always keep the Halo Top to yourself.)
2. Create Quiet Time Together
I love the scene in Sex and the City when Carrie lives with Aiden but says she needs an hour of no talking alone in her apartment, even when they're both there. Carrie is a real hero, and she leads by example — you can request quiet time in your shared space, even if your partner is hanging out there.
3. Manage Chores
It can be helpful to figure out who is going to do which chores. Everyone has different preferences on cleanliness, so if you and your partner both don't mind having a messy space, that's amazing! Either way, it can be helpful to have open communication about who's responsible for what, so you don't feel like you've taken out the trash more than your fair share.
4. Have Your Own Drawers
If your home has room for it, consider getting your own shelf or dresser. This way, you'll have your own drawers to put things in, which might help you feel like you're not sharing every part of the space (unless this is something you'd like to do, in which case, please go ahead!).
5. Schedule Different Nights Out
I like to have one night a week where I'm completely alone and talk to no one. I don't always get this, but I try. I sometimes try to plan this night around my roommate being out, and you and your partner can do the same thing if alone-time is what you're looking for. If you want full access to the TV without commentary on what you're watching, considering planning your nights in when you know your partner is out with their pals.
6. Stick To Your Own Sleep Schedule
If you and your partner share a bed, make sure you still go to sleep at the time you'd like. Just because your partner is awake and wants to hang doesn't mean you have to stay up — sleep is critical for functioning, and you deserve the best sleep possible.
7. Discuss Decor
It's your shared space, and it should represent both of your aesthetics. Talk to your partner about what they like, and make sure that the decorations and furniture meet both of your desires.
8. Be Respectful Of Friends Visiting
It's wonderful when you and your partner want to have friends over, and you absolutely should (if you like hosting). However, it might also be considerate to let your partner know when friends are coming over, and to expect the same of them. It's not always fun to get surprised in your underwear, so keep the communication open about who is visiting your shared space when.
9. Carve Out Your Own Space
It can be tough when a home is small, but, if possible, try to find a space that's entirely your own. It can be a beanbag chair in the corner, a desk, or a side of the couch. If your partner knows this is your space, they'll make sure to keep it open for you, and to respect your alone-time when you're in your own personal nook.
Sharing a space with a partner can be so fun. You get to see them without penciling in time, and you have a constant buddy for Friends reruns. But it also comes with challenges, and if you're finding it tricky, don't worry — it doesn't mean the relationship is in a bad place. It might just mean that you need to set a few boundaries in your home, and these tips can help. And no matter what — enjoy the living space! Home is always where the heart is.