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Advice: 5 tips for living together successfully

Anna Pulley, @annapulley

RedEye's sex columnist

10:42 AM CDT, October 10, 2012

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I recently moved across the country and in with my main squeeze, but we are kind of freaking each other out. We are both feeling so moody and sensitive that none of our normal ways of comforting/relaxing are working right now. How can we normalize things?

—Regretful roommate

Moving in with someone is difficult enough, but moving across the country and losing your support network adds another layer to the crap casserole, to turn this into a terrible food metaphor. Here are some ways to cope.

Time
I know it's obvious, but time does a bang up job of solving most problems. So does apologizing, but we'll get to that later. It's jarring to suddenly have to accommodate a living, breathing, farting, leaving-the-mustard-out-of-the-fridge person into your space, especially when she is mucking up your feng shui and leaving bras everywhere, but sooner or later the dust settles and it's like that person was always there. You'll find your routines, your life will normalize, and soon you'll be arguing at Costco like everyone else. Until then…

Ask for space and time to yourself
If your apartment is big enough to allow it, carve out a space just for you. If it's not, welcome to Chicago! You'll have to get creative. If you need an hour after you get home from work to sit in silence and watch "Dexter" re-runs, ask for the time and space to do so. We all need alone time, just as much as we need to socialize, and if you're not taking care of yourself, then you're not going to be in the best space to take care of your partner. In the same vein, respect her alone time needs as well.

Co-habitate = co-mmunicate!
Don't let tiny issues fester. If something's bugging you, speak up. Resolve problems before they become monstrous. Be polite, but direct. Avoid passive-aggressive notes about dirty dishes or spit on the bathroom mirror. And don't forget to say please and thank you (more than you do).

Don't take your partner for granted
If you see someone every day, it can be easy to neglect the little things you used to do to show her she is your favorite person ever. Kiss hello and goodbye. Leave cute notes for her to find. Do a chore you know she loathes without being asked. Turn the TV off during dinner. Fix her coffee the way she likes it. Tell her she looks great in that. Whatever rituals work for you, it's worthwhile to put in the extra effort required to let your love know she's the greatest thing since the toast you fixed for her that morning.

Get a life
Don't rely on your partner as your sole source of comfort, stability and time-wastage. Especially in a new town, make sure you're getting out, doing things you love, meeting people and cultivating habits that are beneficial to your health and well-being. And above all else, when things get irritating or wonky, remember that you moved in together for a reason, and that reason is sky-rocketing rents combined with a shitty economy. Just kidding, it's love. Probably. And as the Beatles sang, "Love is all you need." And "Dexter."


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