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Ask Team Practical: Mourning Singledom


More importantly—will I miss my clawfoot tub?

by Liz Moorhead, Ask Team Practical

Ask Team Practical: Mourning Singledom | A Practical Wedding

Q: My partner and I have recently been discussing moving in together. We first discussed moving across the country together (which we are still planning to do in eight months), but thought perhaps we should preempt that by working our cohabitating lives out for a few months prior. Thus, he thinks I should move in with him in May, four months before we go on this cross-county adventure (simply because my lease is up in May and his is up in August).

And while the cross country adventure seems like a total piece of cake and exciting, every time I look around at my studio apartment (WITH A CLAWFOOT BATHTUB, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?) I cry at the thought of leaving it. On one hand, my relationship is the most important thing in my life. On the other hand, I am an East-Coast-escapee (namely, I lived in Manhattan for five years after college in Washington, DC, and then escaped to Montana to try to launch a writing career and, okay if we’re being honest, get out of the mind-fuck that is the NYC dating scene) and there is a firmly ingrained sense of if-you-want-to-make-your-life-happen-you-have-to-go-out-there-and-DO-THE-DAMN-THING. So, giving up my studio apartment (clawfoot tub non-withstanding) to move into someone else’s home WITH A ROOMMATE seems like a total step backwards. I feel like I worked hard, did serious self-discovery in NYC, traveled to all those far-flung locales by myself, moved to a town in Montana where I literally knew exactly one person, and finally was rewarded for doing all this work with this independent life in an independent apartment OF MY OWN (you can see that this is a big theme). And now, I’m moving in to ANOTHER person’s apartment who has a roommate (for reference, I’m not opposed to us moving into a place TOGETHER that we choose, but something about going back to a place with a roommate and one that I don’t really feel at home in makes me get weepy).

I feel somewhere deep down the symbolism is me grieving a loss of this pinnacle of singledom that I always held like a carrot in front of me, prodding each choice, shaping my goal-setting, so that ONE DAY, I could be financially independent, work from home, have no debt, AND LIVE IN MY OWN APARTMENT. And, oh hey, I got all that, AND NOW I HAVE TO LEAVE IT. THE FUCK?!

Anyway, the question is, am I a total nutjob for feeling like I am going into panicky breaths over leaving my single life? And if not, how did you all tone the anxiety down enough to see through the forest that, “Hey, being engaged/living together/getting married to this lovely person is worth more than all the clawfoot bathtubs in the world.”

Lauren

A: Dear Lauren,

You’re normal. Not even a little bit of a nutjob (at least not as far as this is concerned). No matter what decisions we’re talking about here, it just makes sense that picking one path means you’re not choosing another one. And sometimes you can get pangs of sadness over that road not taken. Normal, non-nutjob stuff right there.

The independence that you nurtured and developed for yourself in the last few years isn’t contained in that little apartment. You’ll still get to be an amazing, independent lady even if you are partnered up. You’re still going to reap the benefits of that self-discovery and growth, they just might not be bathtub-shaped benefits (right now, at least). I’m not disregarding the feeling that you earned these lovely things. But, I am saying that the deep-down independence is the reward in itself, not just the means to it.

Just like all the other major choices you make in life, being in a relationship is a trade-off. You moved to Montana and escaped the crazy NYC dating scene, but you also probably gave up ninety-nine-cents-a-slice pizza and amazing craft cocktail bars. Embracing the new stuff is exciting! Leaving the old stuff is pretty sad. And the feelings you have about the one side of it don’t negate or even necessarily impact your feelings about the other.

In talking about this with the staff, we realized we all experienced this shift from singledom into relationship in different ways. So, here we present you with the buffet of experiences and perspectives provided by the APW staff:

Meg:

Girlfriend. Can you get a three-month lease extension? That’s a serious question. You’ve got the rest of your life, presumably, to cohabitate, and only a few more months to enjoy your clawfoot bathtub. I’d get on the phone to your landlord if I were you. There is no reason to preemptively move in together before a cross-country move, if you ask me (and I’ve done it). You’re going to work out living together when you’re stuck with it, might as well take a few extra clawfoot baths (is that a thing?) while you can.

For the record, as much as I loved David, I only moved in with him because we moved across the country, and even then I went kicking and screaming. I suggested getting my own place in San Francisco, where I imagined I’d like a similar setup to what we had going in Brooklyn: our own places, a few blocks away. Most nights together, but space any time we wanted it. Sadly, David pointed out that I didn’t have a job, nor did I have any money to speak of, so getting my own place was probably not going to happen. I never regretted moving in, but you only get your young single days once (well, presumably). It’s normal to mourn for it, and it’s reasonable to want extend it for as long as you can.

Also, side note, for all that I didn’t go down without a fight, we loved living with each other from the get-go, which I hear is less than common. In short, don’t stress over seeing how great moving in together is now. It will eventually be great, and you can notice it then.

Elisabeth:

I STILL miss my little studio on Ocean Avenue; it was perfectly sized for me, and I painted it a lovely indescribable moss green color and hung a canoe paddle on the wall, because I got to decide how to arrange everything just the way I wanted it, including a strange canoe paddle as art. I remember it very fondly now, what a lovely respite from the outside world it was. Even though it was far away from the subway and the building was filled with weirdos. Oh, and there were those neighbors with the bedbug infestation.

Anyway, K moved temporarily into that studio when her lease was up, and we waited out my lease before we found a place of our own. It was totally worth it, because we saved so much on rent that I finally could pay my credit cards off, but neither of us loved the close quarters or the limbo. When we started looking for our own place, I had some sadness amidst the excitement, too (so much that at one point I had to lie down with an eye mask while our stuff was being moved from the old place to the new place). Rationally, I wanted a bigger place, something closer to transportation and friends and a Laundromat, and I wanted to make a home and relationship with K, but I also wanted to hold onto the feeling of making my own decisions and having my own space, and I had this imperfect little space with all my history held in it, and I was worried that I couldn’t have it all.

But you can get pretty close. It helped me to identify which pieces of singledom were the ones that felt like the hardest to give up. For me, that was physical space and independent friendships. Which is why we found an apartment where we could both carve out separate space, and why we both maintain and prioritize separate plans (even with friends that we share now) that are distinct from date nights. That makes me feel secure, which makes me a much better partner.

MADDIE:

Because we’ve been together forever (twelve years and counting), most people would never suspect that I spent the first two weeks after I moved in with Michael crying myself to sleep. I was not unlike you. Even though I had been in a relationship for a super long time, I still made sure to cultivate a very “Single Maddie” lifestyle: we went to colleges six hours apart from each other, I lived on my own in Manhattan, I traveled to far-flung countries without any means of communication for months at a time, etc. etc. etc. The entire time, I had been building toward a life that, for all intents and purposes, didn’t really involve Michael. (He was never going to live in New York. Period, end of story.) So even though I knew we would end up together, it never crossed my mind that I’d have to make a choice: Single Maddie Life, or Together With Michael Life. So when it came to pass that I had no choice but to give all that up and move in with Michael after college (it was the recession, there were no job prospects, and my only other option was moving back home to Maine), it felt a lot like I was sacrificing everything to be together.

But here’s what I’ve learned five years later: it was less about what I was giving up and more about moving toward a life that I hadn’t pictured yet. Before moving in together, I kind of felt like life was a puzzle. I had the picture on the box to guide me, and I was just working toward making the pieces fit together so that they looked like the box. But after moving in together, I didn’t have the box anymore. Just pieces. And it was scary. Because how can you justify choices if you don’t know that they are taking you in the direction of the future you envisioned for yourself?

At a certain point, if you really want this for yourself, you’re going to have to let go. And it’s going to be scary, and sometimes you’re not going to know if you made the right choice, and you’re going to mourn for what you left behind, and that’s all totally okay. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out how the pieces fit together. But don’t make the mistake I made of thinking about it like a sacrifice. Building a life with someone is more like an exchange. You’re trading in your single self for a self you don’t know yet. A self that has the potential to be, possibly, even more awesome than the self you are now.

Also? Nobody said you can’t have a clawfoot bathtub in your next apartment together.

Team Practical, how did you mourn the independence of being single? What did you do to ease the transition from one awesome phase of life to another?

Photo by Corey Torpie (APW Sponsor)

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her son.

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  • Orangie

    Not a nutjob. Or maybe just a nutjob like me! :) My boyfriend and I are moving across the country in July, and can I tell you what I am going to miss most? My bathroom floor. I laid each 3/4 inch, octagonal tile myself, lining them up perfectly, and alternating black & white. It’s beautiful. I’m getting teary just thinking about leaving it. And when I mention it, people always say, “well you can get a new house with cool tile, too.” Which is true, but it won’t be THAT floor. It won’t be the floor my dad taught me how to do, that took me three days, and that I did all by myself like an adult. And I’ve accepted that it’s okay to miss it (and thanks, APW, for giving me a place where missing a bathroom floor isn’t crazy), and to still be excited about moving. And my guy is pretty awesome, and I love him more than any floor, even that one. Probably.

    • carolynprobably

      At the risk of swerving in the wrong direction here, I’ll say that I cried when I had to renew my passport. I was sad about not having those little stamp-badges of honor to remind me and others that I’ve had some awesome adventures and also because it was my first legal doc to have my new family name on it and I was mourning single me. My husband pointed out that it wasn’t the end to anything but a start to new adventures. To be sentimental is imbued in my being, but I have to recognize when I use it as an excuse to hold me back from growth and change. So take a laughably large number of photos of the floor. Hell, frame one in the new place (totally something I would do). Take pride in where you came from but keep moving forward, too.

      • Not Sarah

        I’m Canadian and when I renew my passport, I still get to keep the old one, albeit with holes in it. Do Americans not get to do that? I would be so sad to not have my German residence permit anymore!

        • carolynprobably

          Yes, we do, though I didn’t realize it at the time. In fact, the only thing in my new passport is my Canadian work permit ;) thought I have plans for many adventures in the works.

  • MisterEHolmes

    I wish we could get a guy’s opinion here. I relate to the asker–and I really wish I had a clawfoot tub!–and it sounds like the APW ladies all had some struggles. I wonder if a guy would feel differently?

    • Not Sarah

      My boyfriend and I are planning to move in together at some point and he’s always been the one who is ready later than me for things. So it’ll happen when he decides he’s ready (I’m already ready).

      He mostly misses his stuff (but it would all come with him to my place) and his sense of having his own apartment and living by himself (even though he spends 6-7 nights a week at my place and likes that my place is bigger) and isn’t ready to give that up. Or to sell the really nice furniture he bought when he moved in, just like I did. (I would totally not be okay with that either.) He’s mostly just not ready. And that’s totally okay!

    • http://baltimorebeginner.wordpress.com abbeybecker

      My boyfriend was excited about moving in at first, even though it was initially my suggestion. After we did and he realized that we STILL had to carve out time for each other, that he couldn’t just go out with friends whenever he wanted to (like if we already had plans), we did get in some arguments. Coupled with the fact that I didn’t have many friends nearby anymore, I was oftentimes home whenever he got home. He needed some space, some quiet time. We’ve both had to adjust our expectations, but ultimately, the idea of going to bed and waking up next to each other every day was what we wanted, and it’s been great since then.

      • Not Sarah

        Putting specific plans on Google Calendar really helped us with this. My boyfriend tends to make last minute plans and I tend to plan things in advance. So if we plan something in advance, it goes on the calendar, plus he can see what I have going on and then he stopped asking me for permission to do X!

    • Liz

      When I told my then-fiance that I was feeling sort of sad about moving in, he completely didn’t relate at all. Not sure if that’s a gender thing. In part, he just embraces change better than I do.

      • MisterEHolmes

        Yeah, it definitely may not be a gender thing at all, but my fiance had never lived alone before we got together: he’d always had at least a roommate. He doesn’t blink when we talk about the challenges of integrating homes, but I’m nervous as heck about potential “cereal box fights.”(stupid things that don’t matter but seem really important in the moment) So I just want more perspectives.

      • Not Sarah

        Either that or he doesn’t see it as a ‘sad’ emotion. I see my boyfriend’s emotions about moving in as what I would call ‘sad’, but that doesn’t mean he labels it that way. Neither of us embrace change easily (sometimes taking months to make big decisions), so I think that helps to understand each other’s point of view sometimes.

      • Maddie Eisenhart

        It’s weird, because I think on the surface our culture tells guys that giving up their single life is a bad thing (I thank Axe Body Spray for that); but I think that’s to distract everyone from the deeper cultural message that a guy gaining a wife is actually a total bonus. You’re more employable, respected, and historically, you had to take care of yourself less. Plus Michael didn’t get nearly as much of the “My little baby is leaving the nest” when he left home that I got, I think in part because he’s a dude, so “single life” wasn’t nearly as much of an accomplishment for him. Though some days he still pretends he’s in college. So there’s that.

      • TeaforTwo

        My husband didn’t get it either, but he had been a student almost his whole life when we got together. Which is to say that while I’d been putting together a sweet apartment and homemaking-for-one, building my own little nest, he…lived in crummy student housing with a lot of roommates and ate Hamburger Helper that he’d bought on sale.

      • Meg Keene

        Just asked David, “I didn’t get so emotionally tangled about it. Seemed like the thing to do, especially since we spent so much time together. Romantic huh?”

        Which is a pretty good sum up of the situation. Yeah, I was sad about it, he was… pragmatic about it being the right choice.

        • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com/ Superfantastic

          I was the pragmatic one in our move in story. My roommate was moving out and his lease was ending and I was tired of packing a bag three nights a week and spending 40 minutes driving five miles to his house after the nightly “where are we staying tonight” conversation. He, on the other hand, was the FREAKED OUT one. So I guess neither of us was very romantic, but he was more emotionally tangled.

    • LM

      My then-boyfriend definitely had some feelings about getting rid of his bed when we moved in together (mine was newer/bigger). He kind of pinned all his feelings about moving in together on this one item. To him, getting rid of the bed meant that if it didn’t work out, he wouldn’t have anywhere to sleep.

      • MisterEHolmes

        Aw, that’s sort of sad. :(

        • LM

          Yeah, I found it really endearing since I’d been kind of freaking out about the moving in together as well and it was nice to know we both saw it as a big step.

      • Not Sarah

        Awww! I’ve suggested investigating putting the furniture we don’t keep into storage if that helps with that feeling / think we might buy a bigger place in the next N years and then want it / etc.

        • http://werewritingabook.com/ Breck

          We sold Chris’s bed when we moved in together (because mine is a pillow top PLUS memory foam mattress pad, aka heaven), and we also got rid of a bunch of my stuff, too. It was kind of nice to do the purge together and feel like we were starting our era (C&B under one roof) as a team.

          • Not Sarah

            I like your way of starting the era as a team :) I plan to purge a ton of stuff and I think he will do the same. (There is a TON of closet space though – he already has his own closet at my place.) We’ve both agreed that we hate our monstrosity of a desk (we both have huge L-shaped desks) and have been working on ways to adjust the second bedroom and throwing out (my desk) and disassembling and selling (his desk). So far, the plan is to get two desks/tables of varying height (there is about a foot of height difference) so that we can have our separate chairs and each have a good ergonomic setup, move my bookcase to the living room, and acquire some sort of stand for my TV as his will go in the living room, likely on the TV stand that is already there. I actually really liked his suggestion to get new desks, as that’ll give us more options to use the small space well.

          • http://werewritingabook.com/ Breck

            Exactly! It was really fun (albeit, a serious challenge with <400 sq ft) to set up our place together. My other suggestion: STORAGE OTTOMAN. We got a handsome, tufted ottoman for cheaps on Overstock that previously held some of my clothes and now contains all our boardgames/random stuff with nowhere else to go. It's awesome.

          • Not Sarah

            Oh gosh I couldn’t imagine doing that with 400 sqft. We have my 1600 sqft place to do this with. His coffee table is actually a grouping of FOUR STORAGE OTTOMANS with a table surface over top. It’s kind of amazeballs. And my coffee table is a lift-top coffee table with some storage underneath. I find it hilarious that the piece of furniture we mostly don’t know what to do with is our coffee tables.

            The hardest part honestly seems to be figuring out what to do with all of the furniture. I think that’s the thing that’s making us hold off on actually moving in together. Furniture apparently represents single life for both of us!

          • http://werewritingabook.com/ Breck

            FOUR storage ottomans??? I just can’t. That does sound awesome.

            With regards to the furniture… I think for us it helped not to think of each item as “mine” or “his,” unless it was something really special. We tried to come from a place of “this is all the stuff we have; now how do we make ourselves a home?” Definitely easier said than done, but it helped with the transition, for sure.

          • Not Sarah

            That’s a very good way of looking at it! I even suggested that I’m okay with buying new furniture together for some of it if that is the main thing that would make my place feel like ‘our place’ since selling the condo would be far more expensive than buying new furniture. We’ve also agreed on painting (except that neither of us cares that much about colours) and will probably replace the long hanging section in ‘his’ closet with more shelves since he has no long hanging clothes.

            It seems like we’ll have spent so much time discussing all of this before he does actually move in that it won’t be that hard at all and none of these discussions have been particularly hard, yay! :)

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I check in with my husband all the time. “Do you wish we kept things cleaner?” “Do my clothes everywhere bother you?” He has particular complaints, but says he’s really happy about the married lifestyle – the seeing each other every morning and evening, the shared chores (even if he actually has more than he used to), etc.

      Some of his complaints we can fix (file cabinet, bathroom counter space). Some we can’t right now (no room for more furniture bigger than a file cabinet – like another desk and bed).

      But my husband was coming out of an abusive situation when he moved in, so he doesn’t mourn his single situation the way someone who was happy would.

    • Lauren from NH

      My partner went through a rather dramatic adjustment period when we moved in together. We were moving out of his dad’s house and it was more the taking space from his family that was an emotional challenge for him. I was gung ho, all ready to nest and he needed to spend one more night at his family’s house even after we moved all our stuff out. So yes, I spent the first night sleeping alone. We needed the space physically (crammed in a room intended for children or a single adult) and socially (his dad was driving us nuts) but moving only 20 minutes away was still tough for him. He kinda pushed me away for the first two weeks and then I called him out. He realized he needed to acknowledge and handle his feelings a little better.

    • Kayjayoh

      My fiancé has always lived with family or a roommate, and has wistfully told me that he will never have lived entirely on his own.

      • MisterEHolmes

        Mine had the option of moving in with me (and causing my family strife–Oh noes, unmarrieds!) but I pushed him to live alone before we moved in. It was good–I can see that he really truly is bad at cleaning the bathroom and he has no one to blame it on! (Plus good grownup practice, too)

        • Kayjayoh

          Mine had the option. When he moved from Boston to Madison, he first moved in with a friend of mine who had a house with a room for rent. The idea was that he’d have an easier time trying to find an apartment for himself once he was in the city. But while he was on his way to drop off an application for a place, he had a mini-freakout and decided not to. Then he ended up staying in the rented spare room until we were engaged. I’d bring up him getting his own place, but he never quite brought himself to do it. [shrug]

    • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com/ Superfantastic

      My husband misses living with a bunch of roommates. We moved in together after he finished med school and all of his classmates moved away, so he went from constantly having friends around in the same house and having time to doing fun things with them to living with just me and being in residency with no time for anything. When we moved to Pensacola for six months for his training, we lived with another couple since he was missing roommates so much. I hated it and I think even he was relieved when it was over. It might have helped him realize that he’d moved past the Tons of Roommates Are Fun phase of his life.

      I loved living alone. I think we only had such a smooth transition to living together because he works so many more hours than I do, so I still get alone time and then am happy to see him come home. Now he’s deployed and I really do miss him, but I also enjoy my freedom to live like a single girl for a bit. Minus the dating, but I’m completely fine with that. Mostly I mean cereal for dinner, more HGTV than he could tolerate and the clean laundry dumped on his side of the bed instead of put away.

      I never thought I’d be nostalgic for my single days since I had so very many of them. I didn’t meet my husband until I was almost 32. When I was single, married people (especially people who married young) were always telling me to ENJOY THESE TIMES! YOU’LL MISS THEM! Which irritated me so much that I almost hate to admit that I ever miss being single at all. I don’t actually miss being single though, just some of the perks that went along with it.

  • Trinity

    “But here’s what I’ve learned five years later: it was less about what I was giving up and more about moving toward a life that I hadn’t pictured yet. Before moving in together, I kind of felt like life was a puzzle. I had the picture on the box to guide me, and I was just working toward making the pieces fit together so that they looked like the box. But after moving in together, I didn’t have the box anymore. Just pieces. And it was scary. Because how can you justify choices if you don’t know that they are taking you in the direction of the future you envisioned for yourself?”

    WOW. Thank you, Maddie. This is exactly how I felt about getting married, but your words are much better than any I’ve had to describe it.

  • Not Sarah

    Oh my gosh, THIS. I am sort of here, but not mourning it at all. If this situation was me, I would so not be moving into my boyfriend’s apartment if he has a roommate. Just no. If he had the place by himself, maybe.

    My boyfriend and I are sort of like Meg and David, when they lived in Brooklyn. We first became friends about six years ago and first met in the first semester of college, so 8.5 years ago and started dating last summer, after both moving to the same city post-college. We both have apartments a 20 minute walk away from each other. I own a two bedroom/two bathroom condo and he rents a small one bedroom apartment. We’ve been talking about moving in together, but I want to make sure we see a shared future first (I’m unsure on wanting to get legally married) and he agrees with me on that. We’ve started talking about what we would do about all of our furniture (he would move into my place) and how we would share housing costs.

    He just got the notice of what the rent will be if he re-signs his lease and I think he’s decided to re-sign a lease, but hasn’t decided for how long yet. His rent went up yet another 7%, but thankfully that is still reasonably affordable despite being somewhat insane and we can make this decision without worrying money.

    Strangely, I don’t mourn the idea of my single life or of him moving in and giving up some space at all. We coexist so well and he works later than I do, so I still have plenty of my own time and he comes over after work and we eat dinner at my place. I know that some day we will move in together and it will be beyond AWESOME, but I’m not in any rush to get to that point. It’s mostly his decision at this point as I’ve decided I’m okay with him moving in whenever he wants to. It’s also kind of nice having this time to slowly navigate how we deal with shared money and stuff.

    Speaking of money, has anyone else had a hard time asking their significant other to give them their share of some cost? I’m convinced the best way is setting up a Google Doc to notify each other when someone owes money. For some reason, I just hate asking him to give me the money he owes me for something, e.g. $175 for theatre tickets. (We’ve agreed on a dollar amount that we don’t split – basically anything under $50 total we just randomly one person pays and assume it all works out fairly.)

    • Lisa

      We live together, and though we don’t keep a spreadsheet, we kind of keep a running total of who has paid for what and try to take turns buying things. (Ex: he paid for the week of groceries so I might buy the Groupon for dinner out.) If it makes you feel weird asking for $X, then maybe you could have him pay for dinner out or buy the next round of tickets or pay for things until he’s equaled out his debt.

      We also divided our bills essentially in half. The bills are all in my name because he moved into my apartment, and I didn’t want to have hit him up every month for his share so I pay cable while he pays the other utilities.

      • Not Sarah

        I think I mostly feel awkward because I care more about the accounting than he does. So I want $X for his share of Y large thing by the end of the month where I pay for it, but he wouldn’t think twice about getting the money eventually.

        • Lisa

          I think setting up the Google Doc might be your best friend then if you don’t want to ask him for the money directly. You could set it up to show outstanding expenses, and then mark which ones have been paid once he gives you the money. (Which he should do by the end of the month, just like he pays bills or rent.)

    • Ella

      I highly recommend a shared bank account, if your relationship is at that level of commitment. No account-keeping necessary, other than both of you transferring the same amount at an agreed time/when the account balance gets below an agreed amount.

  • http://baltimorebeginner.wordpress.com abbeybecker

    To be honest, I was really excited to move in with my boyfriend. To preface, I’d lived with different roommates for the past six to eight years, and even though I had my own bathroom in my last place, I was still fed up with dealing with other people’s stuff, to put it nicely. (Living with girls is especially difficult–most of the ones I’ve lived with were passive-aggressive, which did not bode well when the trash hadn’t been taken out in a while or the sink was filled with dirty dishes.)

    I was so excited to not only see my boyfriend every day (we lived about an hour apart), but to also pay half the rent I was paying on my own for a much nicer place. I’d have someone to cook for! We could go out for spontaneous drinks or dinner or take a last-minute road trip! We talked about how we’d divide up chores–I’d do the laundry and clean up after the cats, he’d clean the bathroom.

    About a month into living together, once the novelty wore off, I was surprised to find that maybe I DID miss having some time and space to myself–so kind of a latent I-miss-my-single-life feeling. And then I got laid off. And in a city where I didn’t know anyone except for my grandma and my boyfriend’s friends, I was lonely. But gradually, after getting a new job, joining social sports leagues and volunteering, I’ve started to create a life here that’s mine. I like that if I want to meet my friends in DC for dinner, I can, and then when I get home, my boyfriend’s there. I don’t feel trapped in my apartment, now that I have places to go and people to see. It’s about thinking of your choices as what makes you independent, rather than where you physically live.

    And by all means, find an apartment with your boyfriend that has a clawfoot tub! When we combined our incomes and realized what we could afford, we got a much nicer place than anything we could have afforded on our own.

    • Not Sarah

      “I like that if I want to meet my friends in DC for dinner, I can, and then when I get home, my boyfriend’s there.”

      I LOVE this part! I came home from dinner with a friend on Saturday night and my boyfriend was playing a video game in the living room, headset and all. Who knew I would be that excited to see him playing a video game in my apartment? We don’t technically live together yet, but I’m really excited for this part being normal :)

    • YOQ

      “Living with girls is especially difficult–most of the ones I’ve lived
      with were passive-aggressive, which did not bode well when the trash
      hadn’t been taken out in a while or the sink was filled with dirty
      dishes.”

      I think this is less about living with girls and more about living with people who deal with things in passive-aggressive ways. I say that as a woman who is living with her (usually not passive-aggressive) (female) fiancee, and who grew up with a (quite frequently passive-aggressive) brother.

  • AnnieP

    Yes, yes, thank you for this today. Love Maddie’s “it was less about what I was giving up and more about moving toward a life that I hadn’t pictured yet.”

    I’m experiencing similar feelings, but instead of a clawfoot tub, it’s a car! (Though I did have a clawfoot in my single-lady apartment and loved it, too.) My husband and I are car shopping to replace my little red Ford, and I’m having a hard time getting excited. It’s like the car symbolizes my independence, my youth, my journey to the big city, my 20’s for godssake. The new car = adulthood, responsibility. It feels silly, but I can’t shake it. It’s starting to make more sense after reading this. So, I’m not a nutjob, either?

    • LaikaCatMeow

      Ahh, I just had to buy a new (used, but basically new) car when my beloved Saab finally died in February. I totally get what you’re saying. Thinking about buying a new car would make me cry! My Saab was my companion, the one solid presence I had in LA from when I moved down here to go to college at age 18. Giving it up felt like I was giving up that part of me. (Not to mention, Saab doesn’t exist anymore!)

      But, I bit the bullet and got a new car. Yes, it’s not my old car. Yes, it kinda looks like every other car out there. But it drives. It has 28,000 miles. Everything works. There aren’t dents in the body or worn out leather on the seats. I saved up for four years and paid for half of the car in cash. It’s wholly mine, not shared with my boyfriend, not a split expense that he or I need to haggle over. Signing the contract to buy it was SUCH an empowering moment for me that it took away the pain I had from giving up the old car :)

  • Ripley

    I’m about to move in with my fella, and I’m sad about leaving my place. I felt a lot better once I asked if we could move when his lease is up if I want to. Knowing that we are in agreement to look for digs that I like (and get to actively select) as well, even if there’s no justifiable reason, is enough for me to feel good about this move: I feel good about living with him, and I feel good knowing that we will both make sure we live somewhere that is good for both of us.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    I’m still mostly sad about having to give up my single-girl apartment in a few months. I was very sad when my now-husband first moved in. The first few times I was alone for extended periods afterwards, I bawled and yelled and threw things. It took me over a year to accept certain aspects of living together, and I still don’t like them. (Things like never being able to wake up on a Saturday morning and clean the whole place; it would be disrespectful to move his clutter. Also, the lost closet space.)

    A clear timeline helped. As in, “All your stuff will be brought over by x date, and then I can stop worrying about making room for any more stuff.” “You will have y clutter put away by Friday night, because I want to vacuum Saturday.” Also, scheduling 2-3 hours Saturday mornings for cleaning has helped me feel back in control of my life. I no longer feel that my living space is out of control, or guilty for spending that time rather than with my husband. (He works from home and does do more than half the chores, but there’s some things he/we can’t get to during the week.)

    All of which makes me sound like a neat-freak and a control-freak, which I promise I’m not.

    • Not Sarah

      Totally not a neat-freak or a control-freak! Before my boyfriend and I started dating, we both independently spent a bunch of time on Sundays doing cleaning, so we still do that, just together! :)

    • KC

      When I had roommates, we had a period of time where there was a three-drawer thingy in the living room, and basically we each had a drawer, and if one person wanted to clean but didn’t want to clean *around* other peoples’ stuff, she would dump everyone’s clutter in their drawer (there might have been a fourth “unknown” drawer? I don’t remember; this was a while ago). It meant that we took full advantage of all cleaning urges but also could find our stuff-that-had-been-in-the-living-room. Not sure if a couple of baskets or something might work for husband-clutter. (my husband and I tend to independently “grow” piles of papers, and the piles are sometimes “meaningful” [like: to file, to sort, for reading] and sometimes not, so the dump-it-all-in-a-basket doesn’t usually work for us, although emergency someone-clutter-phobic-is-coming-over cleaning has involved stacking the piles in another room, with folders dividing each original pile so the meaning can be reconstructed, if there was meaning. I guess I’m saying: for anyone who’s having the augh-how-do-I-clean-around-someone-else’s-stuff problem, having a all-clutter-goes-here box/basket/location may or may not be a solution worth investigating…)

      • ElisabethJoanne

        That’s a good idea. He definitely has stacks with meanings, so I’m careful about moving his papers, but he got a file cabinet for Christmas, and soon there will be a place for “EJ couldn’t stand to see this on the kitchen table anymore” papers.

        I’ve also started marking his periodicals with “recycle on” dates so they don’t take over the magazine bin. I can handle almost anything, as long as I know when it will go away.

        Assuming all clothes not in the closet are dirty makes more work for me, though, since I do all the laundry – and clothes tossed about (after he said he’d put them away) have been a major source of rage.

        We also look forward to a room to hide clutter from guests when we move this summer. The bathroom is through the bedroom, so we can’t use the bedroom.

        • KC

          I love file cabinets. :-) And having “recycle on” dates is genius – that way you only make the decision once, instead of debating it every single time you touch it.

          Any possibility of adding a standing screen to a corner of your bedroom that a laundry rack can hide behind? Or possibly a wicker [closed] hamper of some kind? The does-it-need-to-be-washed-or-not thing is definitely obnoxious when you’re trying to get things tidy: if it’s clean, it can go in the closet/dresser/whatever; if not, you don’t want to do that! If it’s properly dirty, then it goes in the wash… but if in between [like jeans you wore for a few hours but will wear again in a day], then what?.

          (separately, I hate bathroom-through-the-bedroom-only arrangements. Why do they ever make things that way? Do the people that build those just not have people over ever, or expect that no just-here-for-coffee visitor will ever need to pee, or are they and their guests just always perfectly comfortable wandering through someone else’s bedroom? Studio apartments are different, but if you have to actually open a door to go into a bedroom to get to the only bathroom… augh.)

          • ElisabethJoanne

            The clothes haven’t been an issue as much because of some rearranged furniture and him finding out how much it frustrated me.

            I work in construction law, and my husband used to build condos, so we know the reason why the bathrooms are through the bedrooms in our building has to do with having one unit’s bathroom abut another unit’s. That way, they only have to run plumbing in one area of the building instead of two areas, for two units. Since installing plumbing is expensive relative to other parts of construction, I’m sure our building was designed to get the plumbing and electrical systems built as cheaply as possible, and then the floor plans were arranged around the plumbing.

            I didn’t mind the floor plan so much when I was single, because it made me keep the place clean.

          • KC

            That is very informative! Thank you! I knew kitchens and laundry rooms often backed or accompanied bathrooms for plumbing reasons, and that bathrooms are usually “stacked” vertically for the same, but I totally hadn’t thought about apartment-bathroom-plumbing proximity reasons. Makes sense!

            (I still would avoid something like that like the plague, both since I know people who *realllllly* don’t want to walk through married peoples’ bedrooms and I’d rather not make them either be awkward or hold it, and since sometimes it’s just nice to have your bedroom be a retreat [and a place to dry bras, or temporarily stash papers], not a public space)

    • Lisa

      Oh, man, the closet space. I’m a bit of a clothes hoarder, and what was my single lady apartment had an amazing amount of storage and room for everything. When it became our apartment, clothes exploded all over the place because I couldn’t bring myself to condense enough.

      He also moved in in a bit of a hurry, and so things just got thrown places or stashed in the gigantic closets in the apartment. It drives me nuts how much STUFF there is on the floor, under the coffee table, and everywhere.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        It kind of felt like a siege as he was moving in. Every day, I’d come home from work, and there was more strange stuff in strange places. It didn’t help that his move was unplanned (previous situation became violent).

        • Lisa

          That’s so unfortunate, and I feel bad for both of you. My fiancé’s roommate, who used to be my closest friend, decided to throw away a bunch of his things, including his mattress, which he had already sold to a friend, before she left. (He was already pretty much living at my place and didn’t know until two days later.)

          I tried to prepare before he moved in by cleaning out some drawers and condensing things, but since I had just started a new job, I didn’t have time to really give my place a good go-through and get rid of a bunch of stuff before he had to be in, and trying to sort through and get rid of things is so difficult when they’re buried under someone else’s.

          • ElisabethJoanne

            I somehow did grab a few evenings around the time he moved in to clean out a couple closets. It just couldn’t be enough because our/my place is too small for 2 people. In a lot of ways the bad situation before was a blessing in disguise because it meant he had less stuff to move in after the people he was living with sold or stole his things without asking.

      • LaikaCatMeow

        My single lady apartment was an almost all-original 1924 bungalow with an amazing walk-in closet. Seriously, that closet had the highest ceilings and so much shelving space, I didn’t need to store anything out in the open. Then my boyfriend and I found the almost-perfect house we’d been waiting for. It has one tiny closet. We have a clothing storage problem.

        I gave away so many things before we moved in together, but we still feel like we have no space! I guess that’s cohabitation for you.

      • Jules

        I literally lol’d about a clothes explosion because I’m envisioning like, boxer briefs hanging from a lamp, jeans stuck to the fridge, and socks in all sort of funny places.

        I’m really glad to see this thread because it acknowledges the hard stuff about moving in together and everyone’s got such great perspectives.

        BTW, ElisabethJoanne (if you ever see this), I handle the clutter the same way as karyn – compile it neatly in one predictable area, clean around it. My mom did this to me growing up, I still do it to my own stuff, and now I do it to his. Used to have a super messy roommate that had a giant pile outside her door. Not in a passive-aggressive take your sh*t back sort of way, just a “moving your stuff from all over the common space” way.

        • Lisa

          Haha, I love your visual! Mostly the clothes explosion is contained to the bedroom. He had a two drawer tiny cabinet thing that he put on top of my bureau, and now there is a stack of sweaters on top of it that stacks about two feet high. Our ceilings are 9′, and the clothes are stacked within 1′-2′ of the top!!

    • karyn_arden

      Whenever I need to clean up and my husband isn’t around, but has left his detritus all over the kitchen island or table, or the couch or coffee table, I stack his things neatly and leave them on his desk or chair in the office. It gives me the room to clean properly, but is respectful of his things by not just shoving them out of the way and instead giving them a place to wait for him to deal with them as he will.

      KC’s drawer/your filing cabinet idea is also excellent. I wish we had that kind of space, but we’re already having a hard time squeezing anything more into our 800 square feet condo. Sigh.

  • Ellen

    I still miss my first apartment, not necessarily because of the fantastic pantry or the perfectly-positioned closet right off the front door or the interesting angled wall that made the whole thing flow just right, but because it was 100% mine. There is no way that my then-boyfriend, now-fiance could have ever moved in with me- it simply wasn’t a big enough space- but I still miss it. When I moved into his apartment, it definitely felt like “his”- he had been living there for a year by himself and no matter how much I added my touch, the underlying idea that it was “his” and not “mine” or even “ours” was still prevalent.

    We very recently purchased our first home, and I am delighted to say that it feels like “our” space more than I ever could have imagined. As a temporary measure before we moved, moving in to his apartment was fine, but I don’t know if I could have handled it in the long run. It was worth it, though, in order for us to have the time to find a place that could be uniquely ours.

  • Sharon Gorbacz

    I moved in with my soon-to-be-husband about 5 years ago, and the one thing that’s saved our sanity is seperate offices. Mine is in the spare bedroom/library, his is the little 9×8 room that everyone says is perfect for a nursery. We can go and play games or do some work without bothering the other. Also, we’ve got a TV in the bedroom and one in the living room, so we could watch different programs if we really want to.

  • Adria Rizzo

    He moved in with me…in a townhouse near DC that I purchased 100% on my own with my hard earned money. That shit was hard at first (and sometimes, it still is…men can be gross, and not having dedicated personal space is tough sometimes…like, can I just get a bathroom all to myself that no one else ever uses?). Now we’re moving into a single family home that we’re buying together and I’m in the process of selling my (our…I guess…through marriage…haha) townhouse and it’s even more tough to let it go. It’s pretty much me, materialized in a home. And sure, there are our things in it, but 90% of them are my things and co-habitating can be difficult at times. But in the end, it’s nice to have someone there….it’s nice to spend time with each other and to have a home that we’ve created together – through many different difficulties and many wonderful celebrations. Adjustments happen. Let yourself give in to them when the time is right and it will all be for the better in the end….no matter what happens, you know?

  • c

    My soon-to-be husband and I moved in together late last year, and it’s been 99% great — it was an easy transition, we live well together, we love each other’s company, etc. But then there’s that 1% of me that wishes I still had my own space and my own home. It would be nice to go to a bookstore after work to sit and drink a cup of coffee and read a book without having to let someone know I’ll be home late. Or it would be nice to choose the paint colors for my house without having to take into account someone else’s opinion. And it would definitely be nice to see the toothpaste tube rolled up carefully as I left it, and not all squished in the middle with leftover toothpaste smeared on the cap.

    My advice, for what it’s worth, is not to rush the transition. Extend your lease, enjoy your last few months of clawfoot-tubbery, and have fun choosing your next apartment together.

  • addiez

    I’m surprised no one hit this – moving in with your boyfriend in his roommate will be very, very different from finding a place together and moving in. One person is a HUGE difference (think from you in your studio to you guys together) so if the thought behind moving in together is to navigate what it will be like and figure it out, in some ways this move wouldn’t be as indicative as it might seem on the surface.

    • Lindsay Rae

      Exactly what I came down here to say. Fumbling through the first few months of living together is one thing, but Lauren is also going to be figuring out how to live with the Roommate, and this doesn’t sound like the productive pre-cross country move cohabitation that was in the original plan. I agree with Meg – see if you could extend your lease and enjoy those last few months. Besides, you’ll have plenty of time to work out your cohabitating lives, no matter what state you’re in.

    • Jessica

      I did that with my husband when we first moved in together–a coworker of mine also moved in with us because we could get the best deal that way. It wasn’t much of a problem because we were all really respectful of each other and laid down rules about the kitchen & bathroom cleaning schedules.

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      Oh, God, I forgot about that. Moving in with Michael and his roommate was probably half the reason I cried so much. :) (Roommate was…less than thrilled I was there.)

      • joanna b.n.

        I actually assumed you were going to share your roommate experience!!

    • TeaforTwo

      It sure will be different. Frankly, even if you get along with the roommate fine, I think I would have had a hard time learning to live with my husband in front of a third-party. I loved when he moved in, but we had a lot to figure out. And as awful as it is to be fighting with your partner, it is way way worse to pretend that you aren’t for other people.

    • april

      Yeah, I was just about to say this too. I would also add that I loathe moving. Seriously, even minor moves (moving out of my dorm room, leaving summer camp, etc.) stress me out and make me inexplicably sad. So the idea of moving in with your boyfriend just to have to move again 3 months later sounds AWFUL to me.

      In other words, I’m with Meg on this one. See if your landlord will let your extend your lease – if you can, tell your partner that you love him and you can’t wait to move in with him … in a couple of months.

    • Meg Keene

      TRUE STORY. That’s actually why I asked if she could extend her lease.

    • SM

      Totally agree! I recently moved house, and that is stressful enough.. Let alone moving twice in only four months AND learning to live with your partner AND negotiating another housemate. It all sounds like unnecessary stress to me, especially if it turns out that you don’t get along very well or there is a personality clash. A few years ago I was living in a share house with two others, and for the last six months or so that I was there, the partner of one of my housemates moved in. He is honestly a lovely person, but I HATED living with him and being home at the same time as him often made me feel stress. (I’m an introvert and he is a big extrovert… for me being around someone with so much energy for such long periods gets exhausting). Plus, I found living with a couple really weird. Suddenly the house felt more like their house, than everyone’s house.
      I think Meg’s suggestion about extending your lease is a great one. Maybe you won’t be able to do it, and at the end of the day, it will only be four months of living at your partner’s current place and then you can move on. But extending your lease just might save you some stress… and give you longer to enjoy your own place and adjust to the idea of moving

    • Meredith

      Yes 100%. But if her boyfriend is really stoked about moving in together NOW, another option might be to get a short month-to-month lease on a new roommate-free place. When my now-husband and I moved in together, I really, really wanted it to be a new place of our own instead of me moving in with him (my lease ended before his, just like the letter-writer’s). Somehow I was completely freaked out by the idea of moving my stuff into his space — I worried that he’d resent the intrusion, I thought I’d feel perpetually like a guest — but moving all our stuff into a new space together didn’t feel nearly as weird to me, and was in fact awesome. (There were also practical reasons, like the fact that I’d have had a two-hour commute, but honestly that wasn’t the biggest thing). So we moved to a new apartment together for 5 months before moving cross-country, and I think it was a really good decision (for us). Yup, a little more expensive, and yup, pretty inconvenient (we were working on opposite sides of the Bay, so we wound up with a 1-hour commute each instead of me with the 2-hour and him with the 5-minute commute), but ultimately worth it for a few months. Looking back, we probably could have just waited, but moving in together was exciting and fun (and sometimes when you meet that person you just don’t want to wait, you know?!), so I can understand where the boyfriend is coming from — but there are other options than bunking in with his roommate.

  • K_

    Four years later, I still miss my single lady apartment in a cute, urban neighborhood, and I still look at real estate there.

    I frequently think about how much I enjoyed living there, and then I think about all the reasons it makes more sense that we live where we do. We can afford a home office. And a garage. The view out my office window is a dirt road and a forest — not pavement. I can take my son on walks without a death grip on his hand.

    • ferrous

      Yes, this. I had an adorable downtown loft, which I gave up when we bought a house. And it’s a wonderful house that we’re making our own, with trees in the yard and guest spaces and a mortgage cheaper than my rent. But even though we are “making sense” now, darn it if I don’t get wistful driving downtown.

  • emilyg25

    Ha, I’ve been married for six months (together for two years) and I STILL mourn my single days. Like the OP, I moved to a new area by my own badass self and created an awesome life, solo. It’s been hard to adjust to being one half of a couple, though obviously very worth it. Fortunately, my partner is super understanding of my weird independence issues and difficulty with transitions. He gives me plenty of space to adjust on my own.

    But I agree with Meg. See if you can extend your lease and save your cohabitating for after your move. It sounds like the roommate issue is still bugging you, and that makes total sense.

  • BD

    Before my relationship with dear husband got serious, I had long term plans of saving up enough money to buy a small tract of land in the Texas countryside and build an efficient micro-home just big enough for me, one dog and one cat. It was going to be a lovely micro-home, and I was going to paint in it and read in it and open all the doors and windows on nice spring days and listen to the birds in it. Most wonderful of all, it was going to be for me, and no one else. Then I met my now-husband. And that long term plan of the one person/one dog/one cat micro home went out the door. We have bigger plans now, with a bigger home, possibly more cats and even children in the long away “someday” time, and I’m so excited about and look forward to all of it… and yet, there are still times when I miss the one person micro-home that never was. I still daydream about what materials it would have been made of, and how I would have decorated it. At first I felt guilty about these feelings, until I realized that I was mourning the road not taken – that road would have been awesome, but that doesn’t make the road I’ve chosen any less awesome than it is right now. These are things I think many people think about once they settle down, and it doesn’t make us “nutjobs”.

    • Meg Keene

      This is like a poem.

      • Ella

        There’s a great Kazuo Ishiguro quote that I use as a mantra when I’m experiencing ‘other life’ sadness: “There was another life that I might have had, but I am having this one.”

        Works (almost) every time.

        • e

          In portuguese the word for this is saudade. It’s a pleasant melanchology over a thing that has passed and cannot be had again, sometimes because it never was. The person not kissed. The ship you’ll never sail again.

          • Ella

            Beautiful! The thing about the Ishiguro quote always makes me focus on what is great about this life and remind me that I chose it. In the depths of saudade its easy to forget that…

    • Sonora Webster

      Ooh, the tiny house was a total dream of mine too. I don’t even think my fiance would be able to stand up straight in the house I had planned.

      Also, thanks for the reminder! I’ve been spending so much time on wedding blogs lately that I had totally forgotten about tiny house blogs! See you guys later…

  • Jessica

    How interesting. I have a different problem along the same lines. Since My Dude has been deployed, I’m longing for my own studio-type space rather than living with my room mate A. When he first left there were a lot of days when she was there for me, but we’ve kind pulled apart a bit and I really want to move out on my own, to get a taste of what it’s like before My Dude gets back and we have to figure out how to live together again. The last time I lived on my own, it was really a room in a house with 2 other women and the landlady’s 13 year old nephew. It was not ideal and I couldn’t wait to get out of there and into an apartment with my boyfriend (now husband). I want a space that is mine and mine alone, if only for 3-4 months.

  • ART

    I totally cried when leaving my lovely, it’s-my-own-dammit apartment to move in with my amazing, yes-he’s-the-one then-boyfriend (now fiance). I still miss it. But for me, for us, moving in together (to his town) when we did was the right choice, and I wouldn’t make it differently given the chance. However, I think Meg’s suggestion of seeing about extending your lease might be a good idea, and would save you the hell of two moves in the span of 3-4 months.

  • Lizzie C.

    I still miss my single-lady apartment too: a tiny studio with pergo floors and tastefully painted walls, and a walk-in-closet that I considered turning into a bedroom for about 5 seconds. And a MURPHY BED. My now-husband moved in with me after we’d been together for 5 months, and while we made the space work, it didn’t feel the same with all his outdoorsy gear lining the walls. Now we moved back to my hometown to be close to his job, and while he loves it, I miss the city, my chic apartment, and feeling like I’ve succeeded at striking out on my own.

    In terms of creating separate spaces in a shared home, what’s worked best for us is that my husband has a man cave (formerly known as the dining room) for all his “geeking out” stuff. I don’t have my own “lady cave” (which sounds like a euphemism anyway), but with my husband’s stuff contained, I don’t feel like I need one. So if you don’t have space for both partners to have their own retreat, maybe just one cave is enough.

    • TeaforTwo

      Agreed! We’re in a pretty small space right now, and it drove me craaaazy at first to have my (messy! tech geeky!) husband’s stuff “everywhere.” It’s a 700 square foot loft, and I always say that you can see every part of the apartment from any part of the apartment, so there was no room for anyone to have a cave.

      Then we bought a secretary-style desk for him. When it’s open, it’s a huge tangled mess of wires and old coffee cups and clementine peels. And when we have company or even if I’m just home alone, the desk folds up shut and you (really, I) don’t have to see any of the clutter. It’s the best piece of furniture we have ever bought.

  • Lauren from NH

    This stuff isn’t such a big deal for me. I went to lots of away camps as a kid and did away summer programs as a teen. Went away to college, rocked out my independent self, went to Thailand and Vietnam for study abroad and then went back again all on my own. Living with people in college was great. The pros absolutely out weighed any of the cleanliness cons. I was excited to move in with my partner because I like have people around to anchor me. I can get too independent. So many things are a million times better when shared. It’s nice to do them alone occasionally, but making pancakes on Saturday morning is much more fun when there is someone there to stuff their face with you. Just my perspective on the flaws of my single independent ways.

  • AJ

    We moved into his place because cheaper rent, better landlords, sweet location… but, two years later, I still sometimes have pangs of missing my 1br apartment with the cute brick fireplace and ancient 1950’s stove. Glad I’m not alone.

  • http://readingandthensome.blogspot.com/ Martha Smith

    This is all so interesting to me – I only lived alone for 3 weeks when I first moved to my current city while I was waiting for my then-boyfriend-now-husband to get here and it was awful. I cried and cried and cried from loneliness. Granted, I was also friendless in a completely new state with just Harry Potter 7 and my Gilmore Girls DVD collection for company . . .

    I have 3 siblings, so personal space and being alone weren’t things I was accustomed too. While I can certainly be alone and enjoy myself alone at coffee shops, books stores, reading on the porch, I don’t think I’d do well living truly alone. I had roommates all through college and moved in with my boyfriend almost immediately after.

    • Meg Keene

      I donno. The single lady period I’m referring to came with plenty of roommates (I couldn’t afford my own place in NYC, nor do I ever want to live totally alone.) It’s still my single lady period.

  • Kayjayoh

    My thought is that two moves in just a few months would break me. I’d try to get a lease extension and spare myself the strum und drang.

  • NTB

    You are totally normal.

    I struggled so hard with this, and honestly, even after being happily married and living with my husband for almost two years, I still struggle from time to time.

    I mourn my singledom, but I also mourn the close emotional relationship I have with my parents. When I was newly married, I cried myself to sleep for probably about a month because…yes…I missed having solidarity with my parents and my family. I felt like I had to share them with my husband, which isn’t a bad thing, but it changes dynamics quite a lot. Part of having your own place is hugely psychological.

    I missed my tiny studio apartment. I missed reading magazines at the kitchen counter in my underwear while stuffing my face with whatever disgusting leftovers were in the fridge. (I still do that sometimes anyway, fuck it.) I missed graduate school and sprawling out in bed until 10 am without answering to anyone.

    My life isn’t better now, but it’s different, in a kinda good way. Tom started living in our current place about 3 months before I moved in, and it was hard moving into “his” space, I am not going to lie about this. Over time, we made it work, though. It was definitely and adjustment for us, but we were already married, so we had to work our shit out. There were a lot of fights–there was one about a shower curtain that lasted for days; we didn’t speak for almost a week, but it worked out.

    Roommates are another story, though, as many have already said. I agree with Meg on the issue of possibly extending your lease until you feel more comfortable making a decision? :-?

  • Brooke

    I really hear you here.
    When E and I first moved in together, it was so hard. I was living in my beloved hometown, a 10-minute drive from my family, in an adorable little pink cottage just perfect for one. I’d started my own business and grown it to be fairly successful, too. It’s a face-to-face business, so moving away meant giving it up entirely. I loved my house, my business, and my life.
    But…E and I were in a long-distance relationship, and his job can only be done in one city. My business could be restarted anywhere. So my only chance to make things work with E was to pack up, leave my little pink house, completely abandon my business and have to start it again from scratch, leave my beloved hometown behind, leave my family including my aging grandparents who may not be around anymore by the time I’m able to move back…if I’m ever able to move back…
    “Difficult” doesn’t begin to describe it.
    But it was what it was–the only other option was indefinite long distance with E, so I knew that moving was the only way we’d have any chance. So I took the risk and moved in August of 2012.
    We’re engaged now, and I love him with all my heart. I started my business again from scratch in my new city, and I’ve grown even more successful than I was in my old one. I won’t pretend that I don’t miss my family and my hometown and my pink house. I do. In fact, when we go home to visit, I intentionally avoid driving down the street my old house is on. It’d still be painful to drive by and see someone else’s car parked outside, y’know? I miss my old clients, (but I love my new ones), and…every time I leave that hometown after a holiday a dark little part of me worries that this might be THE trip, you know, the last time I see one of my grandparents.
    Despite all that, though, when I imagine what my life would be like if I’d stayed…I see a lovely life in an empty house. I chose E, and he chose me, and our new life together is worth it. Not without mixed feelings, but ultimately worth it.

  • Sarah

    I’ll join the chorus on this one. I didn’t ever really doubt that moving in with, and then marrying, my now-husband was the right thing to do, and we did each step at what we knew was the right time for us. That notwithstanding, it was weird. I had just two years before started my first full-time job as a lawyer and had my very first apartment all to myself. No more roommates. No more bills paid in any part by my parents. I was an adult and I was doing it all on my own. I LOVED that time of my life. I didn’t love being single, I didn’t love casual dating, but I loved being independent. When my husband came around, I loved him and being with him more than I loved being single, but damn if it wasn’t hard giving up my very own place to go live with him. Never again will it be just me making my own decisions. I’m happier with him that without him, that’s for sure, but I still do miss my single independence. The trade-off has been worth it, but I still mourn what I had to trade.

    • Sarah

      oh and for what it’s worth, it was a weird transition for him too. We’d both lived with roommates but we’d never lived with partners before. He tells me my stuff was EVERYWHERE the first few months. He felt like I took over his space. He mourned his independence as I did mine. So there’s that.

  • Robin

    I cried for a week when I moved in with my now-fiance. It was just such a shock, especially given that we’d been living three hours apart up to that point and only saw each other every couple of weekends. I felt like I was NEVER alone and honestly thought that I’d made the biggest mistake of my life in moving in with him at 23 (I’m fairly introverted and also fairly independent). You know what though? I may rarely get to spend any time by myself when I’m at home, but you wouldn’t believe how our relationship has grown over these last three years (and we were together for 3.5 years before we even moved in together). We have gotten to know each other and probably ourselves so much better, and our relationship is much smoother for it. And the scariness and feelings that I’d suddenly given away all my independence eventually faded as I realized I was still the exact same person as I was before we moved in together. So I guess my advice is just to let yourself acknowledge that this is a big step and it IS scary and anxiety-provoking. It’s normal to feel this way, and, at least if you’re like me and probably many others, the scariness will gradually fade after you’ve made the leap.

  • Beth R

    My husband and I have lived together for 3 years now and I still sometimes really miss my little studio. I lived there for a year before meeting him and then another year before we moved in together and I miss it most when I’m wiping beard shavings off the bathroom counter or sweeping crumbs off the floor in the kitchen from some meal he made during the day. :)

    I really enjoyed living by myself and found it to be an empowering life change after a break-up with a previous live-in boyfriend. I would say that the first six months of living with my husband were the toughest of our relationship and I think a lot of that was me fighting against giving up the independence I had created for myself in my little studio space.

    Liz is right, though. You don’t give up your independent spirit just by moving in with someone. I found that it felt pretty awesome to know that I could totally take care of that random household task myself, but that now I would have company or help if I needed it.

    I also agree with Meg that if you are committed to living together when you move across the country, it probably isn’t necessary to “practice” now when you feel so strongly that it’s something you don’t want to do. If it feels right to live together when you move, but doesn’t feel right to do it now, I don’t see why you should force yourself to, especially if you can extend your lease.

  • Lily

    been 3 and a half years and I’m STILL mourning my singledom. and my amazing perfect house. most days tho, it’s all worth it.

  • Nellie

    This is my life right now. We started talking about moving in in January, but I am and was in Meg’s camp of holding out as long as I could. I’m planning to attend grad school in the fall, but we don’t know where and it will most likely mean long-distance. I knew that moving-in would mean two big moves this year.

    I don’t have any clawfoot tubs in my house, but I did have a tree of paper (mostly – there are some tiles and medallions here and there) taped up with scotch that spanned most of my bedroom in my home. Postcards from friends in New York, Korea, San Francisco, London, Benin, and Bali, including the first postcard R ever sent me. His phone number scribbled there at the end, the one I didn’t call, because we ran into each other on the street just a few days later. Maps and train tickets from our trip to Myanmar. Instax photos paper clipped across twin – my nieces laughing as R had a shark painted on his face at the Renaissance Festival, the too-small overalls his mom never threw away that he tried on when cleaning out the garage. New York Times clippings carefully cut and mailed from my honorary grandma – Democratic National Convention, the secret of gecko feet, ways to get rid of hiccups, and Hanoi restaurant reviews.

    A few weeks ago I decided that traveling every other week for work over the next few months, I just want to come home to one bed. And I want R to be in it.

    So last night, I went back to my home, had dinner with my housemates, and picked up the last of my things. I also took down the wall. It’s just sitting in a suitcase in our apartment now.

    I thought I would cry when I had to take down the wall. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it now. I’ve never been one for scrap books. But looking at all of those pieces of love shared with me by friends and family around the world, I just felt grateful to having this moment to spend some time with that feeling.

    And this morning, I woke-up to the handsome man I love next to me. For one of many mornings between now and the fall semester.

    • Jess

      This was beautiful.

      I could have written this phrase “A few weeks ago I decided that traveling every other week for work over the next few months, I just want to come home to one bed. And I want R to be in it.” Only I did that for two years, and came home to two beds in two apartments.

  • AmyN17

    This is one of my favorite posts ever. Thank you.

  • joanna b.n.

    All so good, but MADDIE you NAILED this to my HEART. Here I am, holding puzzle pieces that I adore, no box in sight, 5 years into marriage – Yes. That is what it is. And believing in the future and the self I don’t know yet, but who will clearly be every bit as awesome as I might hope. That’s my life in a well-worded nutshell. Thanks for this!

  • dearabbyp

    When my fiance (then boyfriend) and I decided to move in together, it meant leaving my top floor, Lower Haight hardwood, sunny, rent-controlled apartment. We moved into a place in a great location in SF but every day I came in all I could see (and hear, thanks stompy upstairs neighbor) were the things missing from my old place. I even had nightmares where we would break up and I would end up screaming, “I LEFT MY APARTMENT FOR YOUUUUUU!”

    AHEM. Resentment is not a fun thing. Thankfully (for both of us) I made him move to LA and we both love our apartment now. I still think about that apartment but knowing now that I would have chosen to leave it anyway makes it a little easier. Nightmares are gone!

    So in actual response, if money isn’t an issue, luxuriate in your amazing apartment a little longer if possible. If you move in with him and roommate, just remember it was an eventuality that you’d have to leave your place. And see if you can hook up a friend with your awesome place so you can visit it often. ;)

  • Granola

    Just sayin, it sounds a bit like you’re gearing up to move twice in the space of 8 months, which sounds abjectly terrible and I’d avoid it at all costs if you can, so I’m backing Meg’s suggestion of a lease extension.

    Plus you guys can then decide what stuff you want to keep an get rid of together when you find a new place, instead of you having to deal with your stuff, into his apartment before you move it to the new apartment.

  • Anne

    It’s totally normal to have doubts before moving in with someone. I’m a very independent person who’s always needed my own space, and I was definitely nervous about moving in with my boyfriend. Fortunately, it’s worked out great. However, moving twice in 8 months plus uprooting your life to another city sounds like piling stress on top of stress. It takes many couples more than 4 months to work out the kinks of living together, plus then you’ll have completely new bugs to work out in your new city.

    If you can stay in your current apartment until your cross-country move, I would try to do that. It sounds like he’s asking you to move into an apartment which he shares with a roommate, yes? I would not be thrilled at that prospect myself. It can be challenging when someone moves into a space that their partner has had to themselves up until now. Tell him you want to build your first place together, and enjoy a few extra months in your clawfoot tub. Apartments you love are rare. Hang onto yours.