Moving in with a boyfriend is usually a step you make with a lot of consideration, planning and (if you’re me) anxiety. However, COVID changed the game entirely. Lockdowns and restrictions meant that many couples, from those who had been dating for a few weeks to those on the precipice of a move-in, made some really spontaneous decisions. One of those couples was me and my partner.
My boyfriend Tom and I have been together for six months, but a month ago when Gladys Berejiklian announced a second lockdown for Greater Sydney, my sister (who I normally live with) promptly moved in with her boyfriend. And, in turn, Tom moved in with me.
At that point we’d been together for around five months, but that’s going from the first date. Sure, we could have done the “intimate partners” thing Gladys approved, where you could visit each other, but given I’d be living alone it seemed like a fun idea to just have him move in.
Jokes aside, it’s been pretty enjoyable and easy. But I’ve learned a LOT in this first month – about our relationship, about Tom, but mainly about myself.
1. I’m Seriously Controlling
Who knew that being single for the better part of my 20s would turn me into a controlling monster? I really thought I was “laid-back” and “chill as” until Tom moved in, and all my tiny living dealbreakers became far more apparent, both to me and to him.
For example, I have some really strict bedroom rules. Like, you have to shower before bed. You can’t sleep naked. You need to RINSE YOUR FEET (!!) before getting into the bed, even if you just showered (unless you wear slippers around the house).
Before Tom lived with me, I was far less rigid about the rules. Probably because we were in that early-days love bubble and he was a guest. As soon as he became a mainstay, and my routine shifted, I found myself far more irritated if any of my bed boundaries were crossed.
2. Like, Seriously Controlling
It didn’t end there. I liked the Wettex hung up on the tap, not left in the sink. I hate when the toothpaste is squeezed right at the top, so it gets all clogged. I like my WASHING hung out a certain way, for god’s sake.
It’s like I didn’t even realise how particular I was until someone else was in my living space who did things differently. See, my sister and I grew up in the same household and, for the most part, share the same living habits. Tom was like this alien who invaded my space and ruined everything.
I’m learning to be less rigid about my ways and concede with some stuff. Like, I’ll just DEAL with the toothpaste thing, you know? It’s been a process of working out what I need to live comfortable, versus what I can give up on so Tom can feel comfortable, too.
3. We Are Moody In Different Ways
Lockdown is bloody hard going, as we all know. It’s a complicated time to move in together, because you’re not only dealing with the bugbears of living with someone new, you’re also coping with the emotional and mental impact of isolation.
Tom goes inward when he’s having a rough time, while I’m all outward. I want to cry and talk about my feelings and stresses, he needs space and time alone. At first, I took this personally – because I want comfort when I’m sad or anxious, I took Tom’s withdrawal as rejection. This just caused drama for us because I’d react (outwardly) and make his situation even worse.
I feel awful about it now but I guess it’s all part of the learning process. We’re not 100% there yet, but I remind myself now when he’s emotionally AWOL that he just copes with stuff in a different way to me, and I need to let him do that.
4. We Need Two TV’s
When we were dating, it was like “oh wow! We just love every single show TOGETHER! How compatible!” We’d exclusively watch crime series’ and HBO dramas.
Now, hoo boy. I’m addicted to Love Island, Tom can’t stand it. He wants to watch Seinfeld to relax, I’m like “there are so many new shows we haven’t watched, why are we watching Seinfeld. Again.” Don’t even get me started on the AFL.
At the moment the rule is if it’s an important viewing, it gets the main TV. So AFL wins on the weekend and I go sit on my laptop for Love Island. During the week, I get the TV for Love Island.
We still watch some stuff together but if this living situation goes beyond lockdown, I’m buying a second TV.
5. Companionship Is So Lovely
Before this, I’d never lived with a partner. In fact, Tom is my first stable, secure relationship in over a decade. Living together has seen us surge into the companionship, cruisey part of a relationship and honestly, I love it.
At first, it gave me anxiety. I equated comfort with boredom – normalcy with plateauing. And god, is there a lot of normalcy in lockdown, where you can only really spend time with your household and do mundane stuff like cook and play puzzles.
But once I stopped overthinking and started just enjoying our down-time, I found such peace in just enjoying each other’s company. There was last week’s highlight of finding black mould on my bedroom windows and spending an hour cleaning it off together. Realising the sunniest spot in the house was the front courtyard and sitting there most mornings drinking our coffee.
As someone who lives quite a high frequency life outside of lockdown, the “stop and pause” is always a shock to my system. But where last year I experienced it alone, it’s been really lovely to sit in the limbo state with someone I love.