After being in a relationship for a while, it’s natural to want to take the next step. For a lot of couples, that next step is moving in together. But the thing is—you learn a lot about a person once you live with them. All of the weird habits, annoying quirks, and even,(sorry) bodily functions can’t be hidden anymore, because you are now around that person all the time. It takes some getting used to, and here’s what I wish I knew before I made the leap.

Compromising is important, and also hard

When I lived alone, I was able to do exactly what I wanted exactly when I wanted to do it. Every decision was completely mine—from deciding what to watch on Netflix, to what to eat for dinner, to which painting should hang on that wall. But once my boyfriend and I moved in together, I had another person involved, and I had to consider his opinions. Maybe he didn’t want to watch Gilmore Girls for the fourth straight hour, or he wasn’t in the mood for Mexican food. You have to be able to compromise while not losing sight of who you are and what you want.

Figure out finances before you move in, not after

After moving in together, some of the biggest fights we had involved money. I would get mad if I felt like money was being spent on frivolous things, and he would get equally mad about being told what to do with the money he earned. We had to figure out how to split the bills and rent despite having vastly different incomes. We also had to figure out who would be responsible for certain things. It didn’t seem fair for him to buy cat food for cats I brought into the house, and I definitely wasn’t going to be paying for meat at the grocery store since I was a vegetarian. It would have been a lot less stressful if we had laid down some ground rules beforehand.

You’ll always be out of peanut butter (and everything else)

When I lived alone, I knew where I stood with all of my household supplies. I knew how many eggs were left or whether or not I was running out of paper towels. Now I have to accept that sometimes when I go to make coffee in the morning thinking I have enough for one more pot, I won’t always have those grounds left. Communication goes a long way with that, of course, but sometimes that stuff happens. You just have to be a little bit zen about it.

Alone time is a necessity, not an option

I love my boyfriend and all of our adventures, but I’ll admit that on the rare occasion I get the apartment to myself, I am ecstatic. When he’s out of town, I take that time to do absolutely nothing. I eat all of the stuff he doesn’t like, watch movies I know he hates, and rarely ever leave the couch. Of course that excitement only lasts a couple of days before I’m bored out of my mind and ready for him to come home. But it’s good to remember that alone time is so, so important, even when you’re in a relationship with someone you adore. Make sure to carve that out for yourself.

Make sure you enjoy spending time with his family and friends

Moving in together is a huge step. You are deciding to become a part of that person’s whole world. You’re going to be seeing a lot more of his friends and family. I’m so lucky that his family is amazing and his friends are ones I would have picked for myself. But if you’re not on great terms, it’s worth it to work on that before you shack up.

Learn to love his quirks, not fight them.

Both of us have personality traits that drive the other one insane. I’m very Type A and like everything to be clean and in its rightful place. My boyfriend does not share this quality, and it used to make for some hardcore nagging on my part. Eventually you have to decide what’s more valuable to you – is it more important to yell at him for not changing the roll of toilet paper, or is it better just to do it yourself and save that argument for something more important. It’s all about that buzzword, compromise. Sometimes it’s difficult, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

[Image courtesy FOX]