This Summer has been a lot of firsts and changes for me including moving in with my boyfriend, Kollin. Our move in process and relationship is a bit different than the "norm" because we went from dating from 8th grade to high school, 4 years apart in college and now, bam, moving into a less than 500 square ft apartment in Chicago.
To be honest there were important people in our lives that asked if this was the right step, what we really wanted and if it was best for both of us and our relationship. Kollin and I didn't have much hesitation because the four years apart has really proven we've come over large hurdles that made thinking about even being in the same state a no-brainer.
So, it's been two months and I thought I would share some things we've learned about each other, ourselves and our relationship that we love, surprised us, that we don't like and things we want to change together. Most of these are from my girl-perspective, but some of them are things we both found.
1. You have to give up some of the girly.
This is almost a given, but going from living in an Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe themed dorm room, pink and green and glitter covered sorority house and a five-bedroom house with five other girls to a 490 sq. ft. one bedroom with a boy is a big change!
I tried my best to buy things that were gender-friendly, but still had the elegant look I wanted and had his style included as well. During the time Kollin and I were finally getting settled into everyday life, my two best friends moved in together and I had a moment of jealousy. What girl doesn't want an apartment to decorate completely in her style and have the ultimate bachelorette pad?! Luckily, Kollin understands my love for fashionable things and puts up with the weird reasons that I have to have the gold file folders and white silk peonies in crystal vases. Because of having to give up the girly, you're going to miss girl time.
2. You'll miss girl/guy time.
This comes with the territory of moving to a new city and making friends obviously takes time. Kollin is one of my absolute best friends and most of the time knows what I want before I want it, but every girl needs her girlfriends and every guy needs some time to do manly, guy things. No matter how many things you have in common with your man, there are only certain people that you can watch Pretty Little Liars with and talk about lipstick shades with, which leads me to my next point.
3. Have your own time.
When we first moved in Kollin and I spent every waking second together. Our tiny apartment kinda forced that (lol), but we had been apart for so long that we wanted to spend every experience with each other by our sides. During college I thought Kollin was the only person that I could never get enough of. I don't get annoyed easily and it takes a lot for me to get mad (same for Kollin), but with every relationship comes the point where you just need some alone time to do your own thing and spend some time devoted to just yourself. At first, I felt guilty thinking 'I finally have the love of my life everyday and I want time alone?'
But after a conversation with Kollin, we figured out that to be the best couple we can be we need to be the best versions of ourselves and that means doing what makes us happy - even if that doesn't involve each other. It doesn't make you a bad girlfriend or boyfriend to sit back and say, "I need some time to myself and I need to do something for me." Be upfront about your personal needs.
4. Have the hard conversations.
When we first moved into the apartment we didn't have internet or TV for 6 days (yikes, I know). Having just moved to the city, we used a lot of that time running around exploring and site-seeing. But, for the moments we were in the apartment we were found among some time to just sit and talk... and talk and talk and talk.
I was on Pinterest on my phone one afternoon and found a link to 50 questions (similar website linked) you should ask your partner before you get married. While we aren't in a hurry to get engaged, the questions proved really important to learning more about each other.
We spent the next three hours talking about things we didn't know about each other, some of which sparked a little bit of differences, some debate and a lot of reassurance of why we love each other. While I thought I knew so much about Kollin, it is amazing what I found out from sitting two feet away from him asking him about faith, marriage, children, friends, stories and funny memories. Some of the answers were a little hard to hear and some questions were hard to ask. But, the outcome of those conversations have brought us so close and remind us that we actively need to be devoting ourselves to our relationship daily.
5. Choose each other everyday.
When telling people we were going to move in together or talking about our relationship in general, Kollin and I love to ask older couples what advice they could offer us. Pretty much every person says: never stop dating and communication. These two things are pretty regular relationship advice, but one night reading an Instagram post I found something that brought it all together in one phrase. This article explains the author's trouble with his relationship and not actively choosing his girlfriend everyday. What exactly does that mean?
Choosing your partner means actively choosing to focus on the amazing parts of him or her and loving that everyday, rather than focusing and pushing the things that aren't important or that are currently wrong. Focus on what you adore about each other in times of hardship or anger. Focus on what made you fall in love with them and remember that everyday. Ask yourself "Why am I choosing him/her today?" It doesn't have to be an intense or elaborate answer, but focusing on this in your relationship keeps your relationship the focus of your life and gives you fresh eyes on something that may seem like a bigger deal than it is. Choose your partner and his or her love everyday.
6. Remember the end result.
We have all had those moments of weakness where we may say something we wish we hadn't, overreacted or had a brat moment that totally didn't need to happen (totally me sometimes with that last one). I am totally the person that is a control freak and likes things the way I like them. Kollin is way more easy-going and just lets things be. So, of course, there are times where we aren't completely on the same track about everything.
But, no matter what happens day-to-day in life, remember why you are where you are. Even if the apartment four floors above you floods and it is raining in your apartment [Yes, this really happened!], remember why you're there - the person in the crisis with you who is running from room to room with bowls trying to catch the water from getting on your new white, shag carpet (God love him).
Nothing is going to go exactly the way you want it to and that includes your relationship. So, remember the end result - you are with the man or woman you love and are luckier than millions of other people in the world for that sole reason.
Thanks so much for reading! xx