It's one of my favourite Friends episodes; 'The One' where Rachel comforts Monica as the penny finally drops that her life is about to change now that she's 'going to live with a boooyyy'. A favourite of mine because it demonstrated female friendship at its best. Rachel didn't hate Monica for turfing her out in favour of a bloke, neither was she spitting with jealousy that her friend was settling down before her. Now the scene resonates much deeper. Why? Because for the first time, I don't find myself siding with Rachel's sadness that her all-girl roomy experience has come to an end, but instead I'm drawn to Monica's anguish, tension and uncertainty like it's my own. Because it was I who earlier this year began living with a boy.
It's not that I hadn't lived with men before; I grew up suffering dead arms from my older brother and as a teenager all I needed to do was jangle the car keys and my dad would be up like a whippet, ready to play taxi driver. Ours was a house divided equally, two women to two men, and we all knew the boundaries and the roles we had to play. The title of 'golden child' was mine from early on and I knew just what tactics to employ to keep it. But this didn't quash my fear when the time came to move in with the other half, it made the uncertainty worse.
What role would I play now? Housemate? Co-TV remote controller? Domestic demigoddess? A walking testament to The Kama Sutra? And who could I go to for answers? My staunchly single friends forced me to pledge to maintain my independence, pushing a blank Excel template into my hands with the suggestion that I should use it to create a cleaning rota. A colleague explained she'd been forced to admit her eating habits when her boyfriend caught her ploughing through a family bag of Doritos without pausing for breath. My best friend simply recounted the lesson her mother had passed on, which went along the lines of 'I wanted to punch your dad in the face every day of the first year we lived together.'
Not quite the practical, comprehensive guidance I was hoping for. But there was no delaying moving day. I packed up my stuff, he packed up his, and we spent a long day weaving amongst the traffic of South West London like a weary Max and Paddy without the nodding dog. Four months later and I'm loving every second (well, 98% of 'em), but I can't help feeling a calling to pass on my learnings to date. Like the modern-day Socrates of SW18.
Disclaimer: These observations are based solely on my own experience. Hopefully you'll be shacking up with a bloke further along the evolutionary chain.
He will eat all your food. I'll admit I can eat. I'll work my way through half a French stick and a whole Camembert without feeling the slightest bit of remorse. But not these days. When I get an attack of the snack monster, I find the fridge empty and the cupboards bare, because my cohabiter has already been there, eaten that. I now buy my own treats to consume at my desk and on the way home from the office. I suggest you do the same.
He will raise your daily calorie intake. The law of averages (or some such scientific-sounding algorithm) should argue that if he's eating your food, you'll get skinny. Nope. In man world, there is no 5:2 diet or Dukan quick fix. Each meal is centred around the beige stuff, whether that be noodles, rice or potato, and the protein and veg merely serve as a garnish. There's no easy way of avoiding this one, except by perhaps taking on the task of cooking yourself, or heaping his plate full so you're only eating a third of the mammoth measure rather than half.
You will not be able to shift the blame for plughole-gate. He doesn't have long hair, so that rancid tangle in the bottom of the bath is pointing all its split ends in your direction. There's no housemates or sisters to guilt into clearing the gloop anymore, you're on your own. That being said...
You will find his hairs in the fridge. I've come across a chest hair in the FRIDGE DOOR. So if he can't control his follicles, there's no reason why you shouldn't dupe him into clearing up after yours.
You will have different ideas of what constitutes washing up. I ummed and aahed over including this one, so cliché and banal that it is, but it has to be done. Washing up in my mind is scrubbing and rinsing every pot, pan and utensil with my own actual hands. Washing up to him is sticking the crockery within arms reach into the dishwasher, in the hope it will mysteriously fill up and switch on at a later date. Decide which definition is going to work best and both follow it.
It all sounds a bit miserable actually, doesn't it? Well, trust me, it's not. Living with my best friend is the most fun, enlightening and comforting living experience I've ever had to date and I'm one pet shop visit away from persuading him to buy a house bunny. What could possibly go wrong?
Want to share your experiences of moving in with a partner or give me some advice? Tweet me @spreadingthejoy