The last time I decided to give an SO a drawer at my place, the drawer turned into an entire chest of drawers, which turned into half of my closet. The contents of the drawer seemed to expand well beyond its originally established parameters until it was almost impossible to discern where my share of the apartment ended and my partner's began. The lesson, I suppose, was that deciding when to give your partner a drawer at your apartment is a big freaking deal.
On one hand, it's a simple enough gesture that lets them know, "Hey, I like your face and I wouldn't mind waking up to it a couple mornings every week!" On the other, though, you run the risk of implying that your relationship is more serious than it actually is.
In my situation, I felt that three months in was way too soon to have a shared living space and so did my actual, legal roommate. My partner didn't really see it that way so he continued to make himself right at home. Needless to say, things got super awkward, super quickly.
Because I'm positive I went about this the wrong way, I asked dating coach and author Erika Ettin how to tell when it's OK to give your partner a drawer at your place. According to Ettin, "There's no 'right time' for anything in a relationship and people often get themselves in trouble when comparing themselves to others or trying to conform to some arbitrary norm." Since most of the couples my partner and I were friends with at the time were fairly serious, I think we fell into a similar rut. I thought that spending more nights and weekends in the same place somehow validated our newer relationship but the truth is, it only made things more complicated.
I wish I'd had Ettin there to remind me that "the best time to have your partner leave things at your place, whether that be a few things in the bathroom (contact solution, toothbrush, etc.) or a drawer, is when you're both ready." And I wish I'd had the courage to speak up for myself at the time, letting my partner know that I wasn't comfortable with how quickly things were progressing.
Ettin explains that the only real way to know if you're both on the same page is to have an honest discussion about it without being overly concerned with hurting the other person's feelings. It's important that you both feel comfortable with whatever little living space you do share, even if that's just a corner of the bathroom. I guess, in hindsight, if I'd been brave enough to confront my partner about the new, fish-themed wall decor in my apartment, things might have gone differently.
The biggest problem, Ettin points out, is that "leaving things without asking could be seen as encroaching on someone's space." And don't I know it? No one wants to be the person who appears to be invading on the other person's personal space and no one wants to have their space invaded, either. Trust me, the result is a lot of unresolved tension and passive aggressive glares between two people doing seemingly mundane tasks like brushing their teeth.
There are exceptions to the rule, as always. Ettin says, "Logistically, if you're staying in the same place almost every night, it just makes sense to leave some things so as not to pack an overnight bag every time." Just make sure you clear it with the host first. If they've invited you over, it's fair to assume they enjoy spending time with you and won't mind having a couple of your personal items lying around. But, hypothetically speaking, it's probably not a green light to move your cooking spices into their kitchen cabinets.
There are some people who say you should live together for a week before moving in together, like as a test run. I say you should go away together for a weekend to see how you feel about sharing a bathroom with your partner before giving them a drawer in yours. Consider it your very own scientific experiment. Make keen observations, take notes, and, for the love of God, discuss your findings with your partner.
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