It's not change that's scary, it's the fear of change that makes cohabiting so hard.
Debbie and I have been dating for over two years and we both want to spend even more of each day together—clearly, our decision to share an apartment was both logical and emotionally sound. However, give me a few hours to mull it over and poke holes in our plan, and suddenly I'm transported to second grade, frozen with rigidity.
Of course, whenever I've had trepidation over a change, I've adjusted within days, if not instants. We, the humans of Earth, are an adaptive people, and I am no exception. But even the "reassuring" fact that I chose to move in with Deb is no consolation in this case. What makes these stakes so much higher than those of a seasonal wardrobe shift is that this time it's not just the change itself that I'm fearing, it's the fact that by sharing my living space with another person. I'm forfeiting some of my everyday control, hopefully permanently. A stream of selfish questions steadily surface: "When will I have alone time?" "How will our sleeping patterns mesh?" "Can she keep the bathroom clean enough?" "Will I have to give up porn?"
I know that in order to experience the many exciting and wonderful benefits of cohabitation, I will need to make some sacrifices. Living with my girlfriend means that I won't be able to blast Cannibal Corpse or Pig Destroyer at any hour of the day. Midnight Frosted Mini Wheat dinners and breakfasts of leftover Linguini ai Frutti de Mare will be replaced by appropriate meals shared at reasonable hours. I will no longer be able to poop with the door open. Couples: Will Living Together Ruin Your Relationship?
On top of all the freedoms I'll concede, there are the adjustments I'll need to make to her living style. The bed might not get made right away and dishes might sit in the sink for a few hours. I'll likely lose autonomy over temperature control, and I'll definitely lose closet space. My living room might fill with lady-friends, box wine and snuggies on a Friday night, while the DVR fills with all things Bachelorette (the episodes, the recaps, the reunions, the previews, the fantasy league, etc).
Thankfully, my girlfriend is a reasonable woman. More than reasonable, even. For all the sacrifices I'll be making, I know I can keep the habits and rituals that matter. For example, she's OK with my midnight vacuuming sessions. She'll turn a blind eye to at-home happy hours set to episodes of Intervention. She thinks it's funny when I talk to myself in different voices, and can tolerate the occasional fart (key word: occasional). Without judgment, she allows me to be me. The Threat Of Loss Is The Only Thing That Makes Love Worthwhile
Of course, there are also the awesome things I'll gain from a live-in girlfriend. While the financial boons are great (half-priced cable!), I'm mostly excited about the potential experiences. I'll have a guinea pig for daring culinary experiments, and the joy of being her guinea pig on nights when I'm irresponsibly working through dinner. Massages and compliments will become commoditized and traded. Personal trivia and deeper idiosyncrasies will be uncovered. And, potentially best of all, I'll get the benefit of waking up next to the most attractive woman I know.
Life will be different when we move in together. I know that ultimately, I'll benefit from being forced to finally leave some rigidity behind. I want to learn how to be a better compromiser. Fortunately, Debbie is patient enough to know that when it comes to compromise, I can be a slow learner. I want to be more spontaneous, more accommodating. Our love makes that possible, I know sharing a home is just the next step.