I love and hate my boyfriend right now, and I’m not sure what to do. We’ve been dating for almost 2 years now and moved out together a few months ago. There are days where he’s fantastic, kind, thoughtful, and I love him. Then there are days where I really hate his guts and certain things he does. The little things annoy the heck out of me to the point where I just shut down and give him the silent treatment. I think he loves and hates me just as much because sometimes he gets angry at me just for being me. I don’t want my relationship to end but I’m worried things are just getting worse. Is this normal?
--- Boyfriend Hater
Dear Boyfriend Hater,
Its very typical of young couples to have problems when they begin living with one another, especially if neither has lived on their own before. So don’t worry too much! That being said, its definitely not an ideal situation. Moving away from home can be very stressful and sometimes people take out that stress on their partner. Although you’re an adult, while living with your parents you likely depended on them to make your life a little easier, without even realizing. It is likely that as you transition into a more independent lifestyle your responsibilities feel endless, or you may subconsciously expect your partner to do things for you that your parents would have done. When you’ve had a long week at school and you don’t feel like cleaning or doing laundry, it’s important to realize that your significant other most likely feels the exact same way. Don’t depend on a partner to be a surrogate parent when it’s convenient for you, and you’re likely to fight much less. Staying on top of your responsibilities will make both of your lives easier.
Another common problem for young couples who live together is money. living on your own can be very expensive, especially while in school and unexpected costs can pop up a any time. Even if you and your boyfriend don’t fight specifically about money, if one (or both) of you is stressed about finances tensions can build up. People are far more likely to have outbursts or overreact when worried about making ends meet. Its important to be open and honest with a partner about any financial concerns once you have committed to living in the same home. You are now depending on each other to make frugal decisions in order to pay bills and feed yourself. Set a realistic budget that you both think is fair and if you or your boyfriend goes over budget approach the issue gently and without judgement. Getting angry or being impatient will only hinder future communication, especially on touchy subjects like money.
Its likely that the biggest problem that you and your boyfriend are having isn’t that you are beginning to hate one another, but that you are simply sick of each other. The exciting parts of domestic life lose their appeal quickly and when the honeymoon ends couples can be at each other’s throats over the smallest things. When a couple doesn’t live together they have time to be themselves on their own, in the privacy of their home. Once you move in together your every move is before an audience, which would exhaust anyone. But don’t fret! The inevitable invasion of privacy from living with a boyfriend is definitely not a deal breaker, and it does not mean you need to cast aside an otherwise healthy long term relationship.
Respecting each other’s space is key. I know several couples living together that have designated separate places in their home where, if need be, they are free to escape for some alone time. Although If you are living in a small space like an apartment or a basement suite, this may not be feasible, so make an effort to do things in a different room than your partner. Do not be afraid to explain that you need an hour or so to yourself sometimes. As much as you love your boyfriend, if you spent all of your spare time with him you’d go crazy. Even just knowing that individual space is an option can do wonders for a relationship.
Its also important that the time the two of you spend together is good for your relationship. Its too easy to get into a rut when you don’t need to put any effort into seeing the person you are dating. Date nights are of the utmost importance to maintain a relationship, and they are a good way to remember the reasons you fell in love in the first place. Get dressed up and try something new. If money is an issue look into any upcoming free events that are happening in the city, or ask about student discounts. A favorite of mine is the art gallery, which after student and public transit discounts, is only $5 each to spend the day admiring great art with the person you love. You can also take time to go for a walk in the river valley or if it’s too cold walk around a mall. Getting out of the house every now and then is good for the heart and soul.
If you’re looking for advice feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to hear from you soon!