Moving in with Your Girlfriend: How to Save Your Relationship…and Your Manhood

Maybe your lease is up, and the landlord is raising the rent. Or maybe you just got home from bumming -- I mean backpacking -- around South America, and you need a place to crash. Or maybe there's no excuse ... but she's convinced you it would be a good idea. Whatever the reason, you're moving in with your girlfriend. Just don't blow it...

There are some benefits. She has nice towels, and this bowl of dried flowers on the back of the toilet. The place has a happy, lived-in look that seems like a step up from your old dump. You also get to share expenses, like rent and utilities, and that can't be bad!

However, there are drawbacks. Every wall seems to be adorned with artwork. There's this blue painting of a woman with a star over her head who looks like she's dancing, and a big poster with a romantic black & white photo of a guy kissing a girl. You wonder exactly what you're getting yourself into. You're not sure where you'll be able to hang up your posters of bikini girls on motorcycles, or where you'll put your wide ranging empty-beer-can collection … but you're sure this will get worked out. Relationships are all about compromise, right?

Hold up there, Hoss. Before you even pack your first bag, be sure you sit down and read

Moving in with Your Girlfriend – How to Save Your Relationship … and Your Manhood

Everything has a price. Give something, get something. Close a door, another opens. Ideally, everything you give up is going to be useless crap, and everything you gain priceless treasure.

When you move in, you are moving into a shared space. In a perfect world, you both move together into a new place, rather than one of you moving into the other's already-lived-in space. This will make it easier for both of you to compromise when it comes to what stuff you bring, how the place gets decorated, etc.

Sometimes, however, it's not a perfect world. If you move in with her, you're going to move into a colorful, flowery, sweet smelling place that will make you feel like a declawed cat. You will have to “man up” the place with a video game console and an old chair. If she moves in with you, she's going to move into a place that looks and smells like the restroom at a Texaco on the way to Las Vegas. You will have to let her give the place a “woman's touch.” Everything has a price.

Ballerina and body armor

Throw it Out

No matter who does the moving in, here are a few things you should definitely trash:

  • Posters or calendars of anyone with their shirts off (rock bands, bikini models).
  • Collections of any kind, other than CD's or DVD's. Liquor bottles, comic books, toy trains, and action figures all fall into this category.
  • Any furniture that was not designed to be furniture. Spool tables, cinder block shelves, and cardboard boxes used as tables or chairs are definite no-no's.
  • Pictures of, or anything that belongs or once belonged to, your ex.
  • Anything that is broken, chipped, cracked, bent, torn, or otherwise contributes to bad feng shui.
  • Anything with wizards or dragons on it (unless she's also a nerd).
  • Stupid, artsy stuff that you put around your old place when you & your friend were drunk, like brake drums, toy dinosaurs and other “found objects.”

Now, before you get agitated, there are some things that she needs to get rid of too. Here are the ones you should insist on:

  • Posters or calendars of “cute” guys (Hanson, Jonas Brothers, Chippendales, shirtless firefighters).
  • Enough of her clothes and toiletries that you will have some room to unpack your stuff.
  • Pictures of, or anything that belongs or once belonged to, her ex.
  • Anything flagrantly offensive, like Hannah Montana bathroom sets, Hello Kitty shower curtains, pink & lavender bedsheets.

Anything beyond this is negotiable, but keep in mind that she is a better decorator than you, and she probably also cares more about the appearance of her surroundings. Choose two or three things, and fight for them. If that old-but-comfy faux-leather easy chair is a must-keep, then keep it, but consider getting it reupholstered. If you're positive that those Star Wars action figures are going to keep rising in value, keep ‘em, but buy a sturdy storage chest or a cool display case for them.

Also, make sure there's no hypocrisy going on. If you insist on keeping your Star Wars figures, she gets to keep her Hello Kitty. Or whatever it is chicks collect.


Computers & Workspace

You will both need room to work, and space is of the essence. Unless you have very different work schedules, this means setting up two computers. If you have the cash, you should both upgrade to laptops (if you don't have them already), and trash your old clunky desktops.

You also need to keep your papers organized. The easiest way is to get two separate filing drawers or cabinets, and you each file your own stuff however you like. If you are both organized and tidy people, you could probably get away with sharing a filing drawer or cabinet. You decide.

The Bedroom

Ladies like romantic bedrooms, with see-through cloth draped everywhere, and candles and crystals and unicorns. This is a personal issue that you will have to decide for yourself. If she has a white wicker canopy bed with lavender lace sheets and heart pillows, you might want to go bed shopping. If you have a mattress — and nothing else — in your bedroom, you might want to go bed shopping. Ideally, find something in between that she loves and you can live with.


Also, for some reason, women like to “decorate” the bed with lots of pillows. Don't bother arguing.

The Kitchen

For each category of “kitchen stuff,” pick one set (his or hers) and keep it. Throw the other one out. For example, silverware. Does she have a complete set? Do you? Which one is nicer? Keep that one, throw the other one out. Same goes for dishes, towels, pots & pans, hot pads, and so on. In some cities, you have to bring your own refrigerator. Keep the one that's nicest, and give the other one to Craig. For his list.

Note: In some cases, “throw out” means “put in storage” or “send to Mom.” Be honest with yourself here. If you're going to be together for a matter of years, yeah, “throw out.” If this thing really ain't gonna last, hang onto your old stuff, “just in case.”

The Bathroom

She probably has nicer bathroom towels, so just throw yours out, or demote them to rags, and use hers. Unless hers are lavender. Then, go get a set or two for yourself, or shop together and buy something more neutral.

Pick up some Ritual “Nature Calls” toilet deodorizer drops. Or, if you're old-school, keep a box of matches by the toilet. I shouldn't have to explain this.


Guys are expected to:

  • Fix stuff
  • Change light bulbs and toilet paper rolls

If you've been reading my column, you should be pretty good at this by now.

Girls are expected to:

  • Decorate
  • Smell good

There are lots of jobs that can go either way, or can be shared. Sit down together and make a list of things that need to be done. Pick ones that 1) will always be done by one person or the other, 2) will be alternated, 3) will be done together:

  • Cooking
  • Washing Dishes
  • Laundry
  • Bills & Bookkeeping
  • Sweeping & Mopping
  • Vacuuming
  • Cleaning Bathrooms
  • Taking Out the Trash
  • Etc.

TV and Game Time

People have different tastes. She likes Grey's Anatomy and ER. You like Family Guy and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. You both like Dexter. Shouldn't be a big deal. While she watches, you do something else, and vice versa. If it becomes a problem, like you want to play video games while she wants to watch Days of Our Lives, write up a schedule. You each pick a time that you absolutely must watch. Keep doing this until you have two conflicts. Then, you each prioritize and give up a show. If it's still a problem, upgrade your Tivo or watch the shows online. Come on.


Since you're moving in together, you've probably already talked about this, but make sure that if you have a cat, she's not allergic. Make sure that if she has a cat, and you have a dog, they're not going to kill each other. And of course, make sure that the place you're moving into has a friendly pet policy.


Share bills. Share rent. Don't share bank accounts or credit cards.

Breaking Up

So it didn't work out, you're breaking up, and you hate her.

Okay, no matter how mad you are, here are the things you should NOT do:

  • Post that sex video on the internet
  • Run up her credit cards or take money out of her bank account
  • Break her stuff
  • Delete files on, or otherwise sabotage her computer
  • Prevent her from getting any of the stuff that belongs to her

And here are the things you SHOULD do, no matter how mad you are:

  • Keep it civil, not personal. At least until you get your stuff out of harm's way.
  • Get your stuff out of harm's way.

Split up anything shared, or that you bought together, as best you can. Usually, the guy gets to keep more of the CD's and electronic gadgets, while the girl gets to keep a bit more of the furniture and “nice” stuff. This is always negotiable, so keep it civil.

Photo by Stillframe

Before birth, Jesse's mother decided that Jesse Stern was a great name for a writer or musician. He now lives as a touring and studio musician in Los Angeles California. He also has an 80's tribute band, The Young Guns. He plans to wait until 40 to write his first novel.

  • Caitlin

    I think if she has a poster of the Jonas Brothers up on her wall, you might have Chris Hansen knocking at your door.

  • Kasia

    Hello Kitty??? Make sure she is an adult, otwherwise you might have completely different problems 😉

  • Ash

    “Anything flagrantly offensive, like Hannah Montana bathroom sets..” OMG i love it! Great article!

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  • Jen

    Hey…does that pink/magenta? throw blanket on the picture of the bed belong to someone withthe initials S.S?????

  • Terry

    I found i’m a bad man,i browing this blog just because the word:”bikini”
    .-= Terry´s last blog ..Survey shows Americans want more fuel efficiency =-.

  • Nathan

    What’s the big deal with buying tampons, pads, or makeup? Really? Is your manhood so fragile it can’t stand up to a check-out counter?

  • Josh Scholar

    I found this article googling for the phrase “Stupid, artsy stuff”.

    188 hits!

    Also I find the idea that you have to throw out any collections to move in with a girlfriend very depressing.

    I don’t want a girlfriend that oppressive. I’ll let you know how well being this picky works for me if I ever get one…

  • Brock

    I buy tampons for chicks. It’s not like I’m sticking them up my butt get over it. Grow some balls and buy stuff for the broad while she’s in agony.

  • http://[email protected] Nate

    ha ha just moved in with her and found this 🙂
    ps breaking up part is lol

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  • Been there too

    I have now lived with two men and though some of it is pretty accurate, a lot of this is too gender biased and seems like the stuff that comes up when people are incompatible entirely.

    Example: Throw out your collections and the hate of found objects.

    If your partner can’t accept something you like enough to accumulate intentionally then they have not accepted you and you are not going to last!

    2nd Example: Boys fix stuff, girls smell good.

    I do appreciate that the vaccuming etc is no longer just the woman’s job, but I have a right to smell sweaty when I come back from a run and girls still poop and fart you know. (Hopefully not too much in your presence though)

    Also, my boyfriend can’t fix a damn thing. I am the one who knows how to use a drill, build a bed from badly translated instructions, and change the bike tires.

    His job is to play guitar while this is happening and bring me tea. 😉

  • Gwen

    I’ve been reading through a lot of Primer for a couple of days and really like it despite being female. Which possibly explains why I find the gender essentialism in this article so completely ridiculous.

    My boyfriend and I found a new place together when we moved in, and that was great. He was a lot more concerned about things like space to hang up drying clothes and where to put up pictures than I was. We probably *both* should have thrown out our towels, as mine all have cartoon characters and his are poo-brown, but we both still have them. I do most of the maintenance, he does most of the cooking. We both kept our collections (he didn’t have empty beer cans and I didn’t have Hello Kitty figurines, thank you very much). And we both watch most of the same shows, and both play on the consoles we brought in.

    I think that’s pretty normal. Actual people aren’t just these sexist (both misogynistic and misandrous) stereotypes you’re writing about. Way to encourage the perception that men are all macho slobs and women are all frilly and pink.

    And yeah, WTF about the tampons? Clearly Primer’s position is that “not giving up your manhood” means “being a douche”. I’m going back to Art of Manliness before this place makes me too angry…

  • Chris

    Yeah that whole tampon remark was completely stupid. If anything it’s telling everyone else “I have a woman” and “I care about her enough to help her and get her what she needs”.

    Fuck you if you won’t get tampons for your lady. You’re a douche.

  • Danon

    Even though the article starts off talking about how two people in a relationship should learn to compromise and come togethor.. the whole thing really reads to me “how a man should learn to live in a girls space”

  • CG

    There are some good points here. One area, that it misses, however is preparing to move in together by testing it out first. Yes, throwing out some of your “man things” to get ready to move in is something you will likely need to do, but it is more important to first test out the waters. Ie: spend a few weeknights together at each other’s place first. I found this article helpful to help me prepare for my move in:

  • Laobvbey2006

    The tampons thing is ridiculous.  A man who cares about a woman and has some amount of confidence should not be so threatened by a purchase.

  • Laobvbey2006

    The tampons thing is ridiculous.  A man who cares about a woman and has some amount of confidence should not be so threatened by a purchase.

  • Guest

    Typical male chauvinism.

  • Penny

    That isn’t very nice at all. What? Is your manhood threatened by a box of tampons? If you were secure in your masculinity, then you would know that sometimes girls like sweet and thoughtful things like that. Grow a pair– and I hope you never have a daughter or she will be scared for life.

  • OMG this is truth

    Oh Lord. This is a few days from happening to me, and I am a girl. These tips are the best ever. My favorite one: “women like to “decorate” the bed with lots of pillows. Don’t bother arguing.”

    Guilty as charged, and, of course, they’re red.

  • peppermintmouse

    I would NEVER throw out my comics, and I’m a girl. I would die before I encouraged my bf to throw out comics.

  • Jeremy L

    Guys don’t want to fix things, but are expected to? Guys are expected to change the light bulb? Women like to decorate, and are expected to? Women like to smell nice (doesn’t everyone?) and are expected to? What a bunch of bolony… who can stand this content. I’m want to shoot myself now, this is the reason our world is in the state it’s in now. No one thinks about what they say or do, and the impact it has on others… *smacks forehead*