Breaking the Norm: Living With My Partner During Undergrad

By Alexandra Cochran
Blog Content Contributor

Most people wouldn’t take such daring chances of moving in with your significant other while being so young. It might be easier to not share an apartment with anyone, but the personal growth I’ve witnessed in myself will always be worth it.

With marriage statistics declaring 50 percent of couples end up in divorce, you shouldn’t have to rely on legal binding in order to live with the one you love. I was 19 years old when my now boyfriend and I met on the Internet. He happened to live on the opposite side of the country but we eventually realized that our interests, conversations and related humor brought us closer and ultimately lead us into a long distance relationship. This relationship began as Internet friends – very pure and honest. Since it felt like we were strangers, we never held back any opinions. We broke that anonymity and began visiting each other over holiday breaks. During this time, he was studying at the University of Colorado in Boulder as I was studying in Miami, Florida. Three months into text battles and selfies, Jordan and I realized our relationship would excel if we made the decision to move in together. 

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“I’ve learned than when living together, things either get easier or more difficult. In our case, it’s become easier.”  Photo by Alexandra Cochran.

I definitely took a huge leap in the decision to move away from my family to join him in Colorado. And although my parents weren’t my number one fans about this idea, they are more than supportive now. Today, three years into our relationship, Jordan and I feel like we have accomplished so much after overcoming such life changes – moving to three different cities, troubles with finding new jobs, and sometimes making smoothies for dinner because you’re too broke. From the time we began dating to now, everything is still just as exciting. We had grown together and slowly were doing this thing called, “adulting.” I do admit that there were definitely some setbacks to living with a partner but nothing that isn’t soluble. Arguments were bound to happen but just like marriages or other situations where you might live with your significant other, you’re expected to argue in order to compromise and learn. Each negative situation has lead to us figuring out more of who we are as individuals. I’ve learned that when living together, things either get easier or more difficult. In our case, it’s become easier and I wanted to share some things I’ve picked up along the way.

It’s important to keep your identity. It’s difficult to be selfish when you’re not only in a relationship, but share the same bed with your partner. It’s important to make sure you have things to call yours: your favorite mug, your own conditioner or your special blanket. If you’re living together, you’re spending together and budgeting will be eventually discussed. Yes, it’s so important to be on the same page with not only your habits of spending, but how your income will be allocated towards essentials that you share. You can totally keep funds separate but for the sake of who buys the groceries and how to handle utilities, split all costs. I make my own money so I’m going to pay my way and fair share of things. We use Venmo almost five times a week. I know that “what’s mine is yours” sounds cute but just keeping track of who owes who and how much, gets tiring and can all be avoided. I’m an overly emotional person and when it comes to communication, I’m the first one to express myself but not all people are open books. It’s critical to keep a designated space for yourself especially if you share a small apartment. Whether it’s to study or just to listen to music alone, things can be a hundred times better if you can have a separate place to avoid feeling like you’re suffocating. All things I’ve mentioned so far go hand in hand with maintaining your independence whether it’s financially or physically, it’s essential because between the good and the bad, you always have yourself.

Three years has brought us into a comfortable environment where we don’t expect life-changing surprises about ourselves because so far we know each other pretty well. If you’re looking for the stars to align perfectly before you make a life changing decision, you might miss your chance. If you have the support, go for it; you’ll never know what could evolve if you never try.

Featured image by Alexandra Cochran.

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