Want to live with your boyfriend? Follow these rules.

Before moving in with your boyfriend, make sure you know about his ‘quirks,’ including pet issues

by Julia McKinnell

Will he keep sleeping with Snowflake?

Photo Illustration by Lauren Cattermole/Maclean's

First, think of all your deepest, darkest secrets, then write them down and show them to your boyfriend. For the author of a new advice book called How to Move in With Your Boyfriend (and Not Break Up With Him), that list would have included: my hair sheds like crazy, and I never bother cleaning it up; I read my boyfriend’s emails when I’m bored; I’m bossy; sometimes I forget to flush the toilet when I pee.

Tiffany Current didn’t actually hand over this list but she claims she should have, and advises others to do so in this slender guide that takes the stance that most live-in relationships are doomed because too many couples rush in under a haze of “love mist.”

Another thing: if you’re still telling friends that you’re dating the perfect guy, you’re not ready to move in. “No man is perfect,” she writes. “If you think your boyfriend is, you’re either delusional or you haven’t met the real him.” Insist he divulge his quirks, too. Swap lists. “Think of it as an incredibly weird and awkward bonding experience.”

It’s better to decide now what you can live with, she writes, giving the example of Allison, who didn’t approve of pot smoking but instead of talking to her boyfriend about it, ignored it. “She figured it was just a phase. Well, after a few months of cohabitation, Allison discovered something.” Smoking pot wasn’t a phase, “it was his way of life. This did not make Allison happy, especially because she had given up her beautiful, rent-controlled apartment. After trying to learn to live with this bad habit for a few months, Allison gave up. She broke up with her boyfriend and moved out.”

When you’re ready to move in, do a trial run first, she suggests. Don’t give up your apartment. Move into his apartment, or he can move into yours. “Make sure this living situation has a fighting chance before you give up everything in your name.”

And when you do go for a place for the two of you, think short-term, she advises. Look for sublets or apartments with month to month leases. She uses the example of Yvonne, who decided after a month that her boyfriend had turned into the “roommate from hell.” She wanted out but they’d signed a year lease. “It was not a pretty situation. They were forced to live together for the next 11 months.”

When decorating, remember: “A lot of boyfriends come armed with ugly furniture and bizarre keepsakes. How are you supposed to mesh his raggedy stuff with your fantastic stuff? It’s a little thing called give and take.”

She tells her own story. “When my boyfriend moved in with me, he brought along his Aztec spear, his Geronimo painting, his skull masks, and his sculpture of two cats making love. Did he want to put everything up? Of course! Did I let him? Absolutely not, because I wasn’t comfortable having a tribal mask directly over our bed. But I did allow him to hang his spear over our closet door. That was my compromise. Now it’s your turn. Take a look at your boyfriend’s stuff. If you’re at all frightened by what you see, just take a break and check back when you’ve recovered. Now pick out a few items that you actually like (yes, you do have to choose something) and have your boyfriend do the same with your stuff. Once you have those approved items, start placing them around your apartment.”

Pets are another issue you must discuss. “What if you’re a pet-free person who suddenly has pet ownership thrust upon you?” Find out “if his Siamese cats run out of wet food, does he expect you to stop by the pet store to pick up another can? What about your boyfriend’s very old and very ill pet ferret? Are you supposed to pitch in and help pay for its monthly medication?”

When it comes to sleeping arrangements, “Yes, your boyfriend may have slept with his cat Snowflake for 10 years, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Stand your ground,” she writes, and whatever you do, don’t get a new pet together. “That’s kind of like getting your first perm on prom night. Why? Because first, you need to see if your live-in situation works before you bring anything else into the equation.”




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