By Ethne Tierney
As a girl in her twenties living during these “Tinder” times, where a casual encounter is a few taps away, moving in with my boyfriend seemed like a huge commitment that I was not willing to make. Social Media and friends kept telling me that I was too young and that it was risky, as me and my partner met no more than a few months ago. Little did I know the pandemic would change all of that.
You see, we moved in together by accident. Before the first lockdown, I went for a visit to his place, a few hours away from where I lived. When lectures and my part-time job ceased, and inter-county travel became prohibited, I had no option but to stay what we thought would be two weeks. But the months passed by, and the restrictions were still the same. We knew that if I went back to my tiny room in a shared house, we were not going to see each other, and since social life revolved almost exclusively around Zoom, it would have been lonely too. So, I stopped paying my rent, and we decided to live together in his small room provisionally until the lockdown was over.
It didn’t take us long to realise it was going to be a permanent decision. Now, looking back, I am only grateful that the pandemic forced us into this situation, since we didn’t have the courage to make the first step. It seemed way too early to talk about moving in together!
Living together is great. Every day seems like a holiday. We were surprised by the lack of conflict while staying in such a small space 24/7. It was all the result of open communication about likes, dislikes, dealbreakers and habits; a lot of mutual understanding, and making compromises. We discussed it and we tried to be realistic: we knew there were things we had to give up in order to get new rewards. I found the messiness around the house tedious, and we had to have a chat about that. He kept in mind that he had to share his space now and be considerate, and I tried to understand that things can’t always be my way. We try out best to be tolerant and always find a happy middle.
Another thing that felt weird at first was having my boyfriend there, no matter what I had to do. Seeing me without make up, in my pyjamas and with frizzy hair when I had a particularly bad day felt strange as before we would meet outside and tried to make a little effort on my appearance. And don’t even get me started on sharing a bathroom. I was terrified of him opening the door while I was shaving or using the toilet. However, we got used to and we realised that everybody does those things and that it’s not a big deal.
There were some challenges, but finances were certainly the biggest ones. I was a student on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment benefit, and my boyfriend had a good full-time job. The income difference was notorious. Although he offered to pay a bigger percentage of costs, I was aware that we needed to be equal if we wanted to stay away from possible resentments and conflicts in the future. It was important for me to know that no matter what happened between us, the place where I was living and where all my stuff was would still be partly mine.
Moving in with someone I love so much was a big commitment and came with some sacrifices and challenges, but it has made me a more caring person and the good aspects of it outweigh the bad by far. This is why when people ask me if it’s hard, I tell them it is not. To any couple with strong foundations that would like to cohabit but feel like they are “too young” or that it is not something you do in college, I tell them to be brave. There are no right or wrong decisions in relationships if you care about each other and have the willpower to make it work.