Something unusual happened to me last week. I was filling in my standard time-filling, never-win-anything survey and I took a moment to think about a mandatory tick box. Although I am unmarried and without children, I now I have a label. I ticked de facto instead of single.
I have lived with my boyfriend for two years, and the road to compromise has certainly been a bumpy one.
Before moving in, I read the right articles. I mentally prepared myself for the toilet seat being left up, dirty jocks and the obligatory fear of the romance dying. I also pictured breakfast in bed, weekend activity days and furniture 'crafternoons'.
I left my comfortable, K-Mart sponsored share house with my girlfriends and dutifully returned all their clothes and make up (okay, some, I returned some of it). I was ready to be a grown up. I had no idea what was really in store for my relationship's next step.
If you are thinking of taking the plunge, I strongly suggest you pay careful attention to the below.
You will spend 90 percent of your time waiting
Gone are the days of arriving at the bar 10 minutes early and pondering whether to run or order another sav blanc. When I say you will be waiting, I'm not talking about waiting for a shiny diamond ring, I'm talking about proper waiting -- patiently (or not) seething inside.
You share a bathroom now -- well, if you're as fortunate (or unfortunate) as me you only have one. So you will wait. You will wait for the toilet and you will wait for the steam to clear in the bathroom to get ready for work because he forgot to turn the fan on again.
The bathroom sounds familiar right? Well, it's not just that. You will wait for everything.
You will wait for him to get home from work. You will wait for him to stop watching the cricket to do his share of life admin. You will wait for him to get ready before you go out together.
You will wait for him to do the dishes and you will wait for him to make dinner... it's his turn after all.
Males move slower than females. Much slower.
You will feel like the CFO of a multinational company
Once you live together you share everything. Not just a couch and a bed, literally EVERYTHING.
Water bill? You owe me $19.85. That muesli you had for breakfast? That was on special for $2 this week, so I'll let it slide, but you get it next week.
Are you being taken out for a fancy dinner? May as well split that bill too.
You will have obligation visitors
In a share house, you can usually say a polite hello to your roomies' friends or family and disappear. You cannot do this when living with a partner.
If their family pops in, you must offer refreshments and appear interested in the latest news about their renovations. If friends pop over, you must smile and engage conversation.
Don't forget that your residence must always be a few steps above squaller. Just in case.
The Bridget Jones' underwear syndrome exists
As weeks and months progress living together, you will both lose your sexy. Night creams will be brought out, make-up becomes a thing of the past and when the weather is hot, it will be completely normal to sit on the couch in your Bridget Jones underwear eating Zooper Doopers.
Date night changes
Watching movies together and cooking dinner isn't fun anymore. You need to make the effort to go out together (and hopefully return home together). Cue -- above waiting advice.
You will eat protein with every meal
Most men do this. They just do. Carbs too. Goodbye salads and soups of single life, hello steak, three veg and bloating.
You won't run on your own time anymore
One of the most challenging facets of sharing living space is sharing hours. Very rarely will your routine run in sync. Someone will be home first and someone will work late. The 'texting your parents to tell them you will be late' days may be in the past, but welcome to a whole new level of having tabs kept on your movements.
These existed before you lived together, but prepare for amplification. Your partner may chew like a cow or wear too much Lynx deodorant. Living together invariably opens a whole new can of worms you didn't even know existed.
If you are as fortunate as me, your partner will happily eat his cereal out of a plastic bowl to eliminate both the spoon clanging sound and the anxiety.
Social status change
It's not as normal for your girl gang to dance around your lounge room getting ready for a Saturday night out anymore. When you catch up with people sans partner, they will ask you where they are. Your friends may feel less comfortable visiting you than they did previously, particularly those of single status.
Feet, hair, behind the ears, they just do. But like 10 problems, smells fade (you just get used to them) and you realise that your share-house days are behind you, and you would never want to live with anyone else.