Overcoming Singleness Anxiety

Throughout our entire childhood and upbringing, we were taught that we are supposed to look for love and marriage. We were taught that we should get married. We were taught that love and/or marriage would make us happy… or even that love and marriage are needed in order to be happy. This is ingrained in us by our parents, our teachers, the movies, TV shows and everything else most of us were exposed to. This is normal. And at first glance, this doesn’t seem like a problem at all. So what’s the issue?

The big issue with our pursuit of love… it makes us unhappy

If we believe that we need to find love and get married in order to be happy, this naturally makes us believe our life isn’t good enough the way it is. This subtle and often unconscious belief that “life isn’t good enough the way it is” creates a sense of lack, a sense of incompleteness, or a sense that something is missing from our lives. For some of us, this sense is very subtle and can only be noticed through continuous efforting to find someone to love us… but for others, this sense of lack is very apparent and strong.

In addition, once we believe that love and marriage are required to be happy, we naturally believe that we can’t be as happy if we don’t find love and get married. This is automatic. If we believe it is “best” to get married, of course we are going to believe that it would be “worse” if we never get married. Once we believe that it would be “bad” if we never find love and get married, we being to fear that outcome and experience stress and anxiety about it.

As long as you believe that love and marriage can make you happy, you will have this sense of lack and fear that you won’t find love

So, if you would like to feel complete now, if you would like to feel relaxed and anxiety-free now, there is a simple way to do it. Discover that another human being does not have the ability to fulfill you. If you can discover that love and marriage can’t make you happy, then you will no longer feel like you are missing something in your life, and you will no longer fear not getting love and marriage.

Let’s examine whether love and marriage can fulfill you:

All of our unwanted emotions are created by thoughts. To believe that someone else can make you happy, means that you believe another person can eliminate all of your negative thoughts. Of course, we don’t recognize this is what we are believing, but nonetheless, that is the underlying assumption. The only way we can be happy is if we don’t have thoughts that make us unhappy. If we believe that love and marriage will make us happy, we are inherently believing that love and marriage will somehow eliminate all of the different types of negative thoughts that currently create our unwanted emotions and prevent us from feeling fulfilled. But is that true? Let’s look at 7 different types of thoughts that love and marriage can’t eliminate.

1) Do you have any insecurities or judgments about yourself?

Are there parts of your personality or your appearance that you don’t like? Do these thoughts sometimes make you feel ashamed, embarrassed, lacking, or worried about others’ opinions? Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

2) Do you have aspects of your life that you think aren’t good enough?

Maybe your job isn’t good enough, your apartment isn’t good enough, or you don’t make enough money. These thoughts make you feeling lacking and insufficient, and create anxiety. Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

3) Are there people in your life which you think aren’t good enough?

Do you judge people that you come across? Do you sometimes get angry at co-workers? Do you have issues with your parents? Do you think your friends don’t always do the right thing? Do you think people should treat you better? Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

4) Do you worry about what other people think?

Do you worry about whether you have your parents’ approval? Do you worry about whether your boss will like your work? Do you worry about what others will think of your appearance and clothes? Do you sometimes not do what you want because you are afraid of what other people will think (i.e. dancing etc)? Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

5) Do you sometimes feel guilty or ashamed about your actions?

Do you sometimes do things you don’t want to do? Are you sometimes unable to do things that you really want to do? Do you still have habits that you think are bad, but can’t stop them? Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

6) Do you sometimes feel restless and bored?

When you are just sitting or lying down and your mind is constantly thinking, this creates the feeling of being restless or bored. Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

7) Do outcomes and events sometimes occur that you don’t like?

When you have negative thoughts about a particular outcome or event, doesn’t this sometimes create sadness or anger? Nobody else can get rid of these thoughts for you.

Relationships can eliminate a few negative thoughts, but they will almost certainly be replaced by new ones

Getting into a relationship will likely help you get rid of the thought “my life isn’t good enough because I don’t have a partner or someone to love me”. This will likely eliminate part of the sense of lack and shame that you had. But, it is likely to be replaced with new thoughts about how “my relationship isn’t good enough”, “they don’t love me enough”, “they don’t appreciate me enough”, “our relationship isn’t as good as their relationship” and these types of thoughts which will create more lack and shame

If you get married, you will almost certainly lose the thought “it would be if I never get married or find someone to love me”. Since this thought created some anxiety, whatever anxiety it created will likely be gone. That will feel really nice in the beginning. However, this thought is likely to be replaced with a new worries about whether they will stop loving you, worries about whether they still love you, worries about what you need to do to keep their love, worries about whether they will cheat on you, and possibly others. These new thoughts will continue to create anxiety and worry. It makes us fear that we will lose their love and constantly seek reassurances that they love us.

If you are seeking love and marriage to make yourself feel happy and whole, you are looking for someone to use.

Let me ask you a question: Why do you want to find love and marriage? Really, take a moment to answer that. If you knew with absolute certainty that getting someone to love  you and marry you would make you unhappy, worried, and angry all the time… would you still want to pursue love and marriage? Almost certainly not. Why would you pursue love and marriage if you knew it would make you unhappy?

You likely wouldn’t. If you would want to pursue love and marriage when you believe it would make you happy… and you wouldn’t want to pursue love and marriage if you believe it would make you unhappy… then it makes it pretty clear that you are just pursuing love and marriage because you believe it will make you happy. In other words, you don’t want love and marriage… you want to be happy, and you just happen to think that love and marriage will make you happy. Love and marriage is the means, not the goal.

But, here is the reason why I bring that up. If we are seeking love and approval to be happy, then we are actually seeking someone to make us happy. In other words, if we are seeking someone to make us happy, we are actually looking for someone who we can use to make us happy. This is why we tend to think that receiving love means having someone to fill our needs (or wants).

If we are using someone to make us happy, then we aren’t really loving them. We just love how they help make us feel. That’s fine, there’s no problem with that. It’s just not based on love. If we pursue someone to make us happy, then we will “love” them when they seem to make us feel good and we will hate them when they seem to make us feel “bad”. This type of “love” is completely conditional. The bottom line is that if we don’t truly love someone, then we don’t feel this love or the fulfillment that comes with truly loving… unconditionally and selflessly. By pursuing love to make us happy, we are setting ourselves up for a relationship that’s not actually based on love.

When you discover that love and marriage can’t make you happy, you can be much happier right now

When we believe that love and marriage will make us happy, it creates a whole lot of suffering. And this suffering absolutely doesn’t end when we find someone to love us.

But, if you are able to see that love and approval can’t make you happy and fulfilled, then you can stop feeling like something is missing from your life and stop worrying about whether you will ever get it. Then, you will be left feeling much more free and happy right now.

If you want to feel whole and happy, you need to identify and address the thoughts that make you feel this way

Since other people cannot change all of our negative thoughts to positive ones, we need to question the truth of our negative thoughts if we want to be happy. If we don’t believe the thoughts which make us feel unappreciated, insufficient, or unlovable, then we will be completely happy regardless of whether or not others love us.

In addition, once you are already happy, then you can enter into a relationship without wanting anything from the other person. When you are fulfilled, you can enter into a relationship without an ulterior motive… without using them. Then, any relationship will be much more enjoyable. It will be based on love.

Therefore, somewhat paradoxically, discovering that a relationship can’t make you happy will make it much more likely that you will end up in a happy relationship.

Now, I would like you to ask yourself a few questions:

Can love and marriage eliminate all the thoughts that create my unwanted emotions and make me feeling lacking and unfulfilled?

If love and marriage can’t eliminate all (or even many) of the thoughts that make me unhappy, is it true that love and marriage can give me the happiness, wholeness, and fulfillment I want?

If love and marriage don’t have the ability to fulfill me (or anyone else), then is it true that my life isn’t “good enough” just because I don’t have love and marriage?

If love and marriage can’t fulfill me, am I sure that I would be happiest if I got married?

If all of my unwanted emotions and sense of lack are created by thoughts, then is it true that I need to get love and marriage in order to be happy?

Is it possible for me to feel completely whole, happy, and fulfilled without getting married (by addressing my thoughts)?

If I can be fulfilled without getting love and marriage (by addressing my thoughts)… and love and marriage don’t have the ability to fulfill me… then can I admit that it wouldn’t necessarily be “bad” for my life or my happiness if I never get love and marriage?

via How To Stop Feeling Lacking and Worried About Being Single.

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I Am Happier, Heavier

Rachel Oh Uiginn Estapa

It’s not insane to believe that once you lose weight, life gets better.

For years, I heard stories from those who have shed pounds, recharged their lives, never felt better, and speak so confidently that once the weight was gone, they became the person they were meant to be: a thin and happy one.

I do not doubt their happiness when they share their story, but I also don’t believe that by losing weight, they have some superior knowledge about happiness that us heavier-folk don’t. How do I know this? I’ve been fat and thinner. And I’ve been at my happiest, heavier.

End of high school and into college, I was BIG and used to decline attending parties because I didn’t remotely have anything cute to wear, so I hid behind sarcasm and baggy shirts. And dating-wise… wait, WHAT dating life?

Midway through my freshman year of college I joined Weight Watchers and the gym, becoming obsessed with both. Within seven months, I lost 55 pounds, fit into a size ten and even felt sexy for about fifteen minutes!

But as the scale dipped lower and the compliments on my weight-loss wore off, something else emerged: I felt exhausted, disappointed and still unhappy.

“Ugh, I just can’t keep this up…” I recall saying to myself after a Weight Watchers meeting, of which was my lowest weigh-in ever. I felt defeated and broken that after all my effort, not much beyond the scale changed.

Wasn’t I supposed to feel amazing? Different? Instead I felt burnt out, over-worked, stressed about every meal and workout… and I wasn’t even at my “goal” — that was still another 40 pounds away!

Within five years, I gain the weight back and while initially bummed, I actually felt a sense of relief.

My story is 98% of all dieter’s stories, but for whatever reason, the myth that overweight people are lazy prevails. If you’ve never embarked on losing lots of weight, you probably cannot understand how all-encompassing the process becomes and the toll it takes on your mental and physical self.

Losing weight isn’t about willpower or determination. People embark upon weight loss “journeys” because they want to fix themselves. And I understand why — it’s very painful to believe something is wrong with you.

I wanted to feel happy, but dieting wasn’t making me feel happy. Isn’t my quality of life worth more than my pant-size?

My road to thin was paved with anxiety. I was constantly overthinking what I could eat, how much I should workout, and how to balance being a young adult and on a diet. Sure, the physical results where was I was aiming for, but I didn’t anticipate my quality of life being so frantic and worrisome.

My lesson wasn’t to learn how to lose weight — it was to learn how to accept myself. Instead of plotting another diet to lose the weight I re-gained, I decided to turn my focus towards learning about authentic happiness, holistic health and well-being. And today at 29, I’m madly in love with who I am and in learning to love myself, I learned how to love other people much better too.

Some might believe that my story means I am anti-weight loss, but I am not. I’m anti-shame, guilt and fear as an avenue to weighing less in the hopes of being a better and healthier person for it.

I believe we each have a unique spectrum of health, and it’s up to us individually to have the self-awareness to gauge if what we do each day is healthy or unhealthy, not just for our bodies, but for our overall well-being. Being larger isn’t an automatic indicator of poor health, as I’m more fit today that I was when I weighed less. Deep down, you know if your actions lean more towards healthy or unhealthy, and this goes for anyone at any size. A more holistic approach to your own body’s needs and happiness may end up serving you better long-term because the best lifestyle is the one you’re excited and happy about.

My travel from heavy to thinner and back to heavy again taught me how deceiving the allure of appearances can be; that confidence comes from a strong will of speaking your truth, and that sustainable health and happiness stems not from calories in versus calories out, but of an attitude of gratitude.

And it’s with learning gratitude my real body-love story began. Gratitude for my body for all it does and in kind, I now treat with respect and balance.

I got married in a large body. I created my own business in a large body. I did my first professional photo shoot in a large body. I adore this large body and even if I lost or gained weight, the core of who I am does not change.

Rachel Estapa, founder of More To Love, is a writer, coach and speaker on plus size body image, health and happiness. See more at http://www.moretolovewithrachel.com

via I Am Happier, Heavier | Rachel O’h-Uiginn Estapa.

Moving in together – a guide for guys

Imagine having your girlfriend there to fall asleep with every night, wake up beside, and eat meals with, every day. This thought can make you want to call her to tell her to pack her bags and move in with you, or shudder with fear. But if you venture into this unprepared, you’ll want to ship your new roommate out with the empty boxes.

Living together as a couple is one of the big steps of any relationship, right up there with marriage and starting a family, only your commitment isn’t bound by vows, nor are you bringing another human life into the picture.

As well, moving in together shouldn’t cause the same cold feet as marriage — it can be an excellent experience, making every day feel like a honeymoon. You just need to make sure you’re ready.

r-u-ready?

While living together can reap some of the advantages of marriage, it also packs in some inconveniences. Forget about going out without telling her who you’re going with, where you’re going and when you’ll be home. Think twice before you grunt, scratch and burp after every meal and during football. And hockey. And baseball. And golf. Oh yeah, while we’re at it, forget about watching only sports. You’ll also need to make time for figure skating, prime-time dramas and the soap operas she records every day.

So how can you tell that you’re ready to make the big move? A good start is by considering the following points:

How long have you been together?

How long you’ve been together isn’t the most accurate gauge of whether or not the move should be made, as time is relative to the point of your life in which you find yourself. A year together for a thirty-something couple is probably not equivalent to a yearlong relationship for 22-year-olds. As well, the decision should be based on how much you want this person to be a part of your everyday life — literally.

How much time do you spend together?

If you find that you’re with your girlfriend seven nights a week, at one of your apartments, and even spend every waking hour with each other, then perhaps living together is worth it. But keep in mind that those seven nights of “sleepovers” are not necessarily equivalent to actually living together. No matter how much time you spend with one another, the precious moments you have at home, on your own, might be enough to give you the breather you need. When you live together, there are few places you can escape to.

Are you ready to live with someone?

You might feel that you’ve lived on your own for enough time already, and are prepared to share your living space with that special someone. If you’re simply tired of being alone and want someone to come home to — and luckily for you, that someone is your girlfriend — then maybe the time to share a space has arrived.

Do you know who you are?

Speaking of having lived on your own, it might not be a good idea to go from living at home with your family to moving in with your girlfriend, unless it’s against your family values to live on your own until you’re married. It’ll also be a shock to your system when you learn that your loving roommate does not intend to do your laundry, fold your underwear and socks, and cook you dinner every night, just like mommy did. But once you’ve lived out on your own for a while and know how to fend for yourself, it might be an easier transition to make.

Are you eventually going to marry her?

If you know this is the woman you want to spend the rest of your life with, why not start out by living together to get a feel for what lies ahead? If you’ve discussed marriage with each other and you know she’s the one, then there’s no better time to call the movers.

Are you doing it for the rent?

If you spend countless hours at each other’s apartments and figure that you may as well cut your rent in half by living together, eventually you’ll probably want to cut your time spent together in half. Saving money on rent should be considered a result of moving in together, not a motivation.

race to one space

You might be elated to move in with your sweetheart, and as long as the two of you are ready, it can be a great step. Whoever said that you don’t know someone until you live with them must have lived with his girlfriend, and even if you’ve been an item for years, the little things you’ll learn about each other will surely surprise you. Traveling together is one of the “relationship tests” every couple should endure, but a vacation is a walk in the park compared to sharing the same living space.

While getting a dog together to test your ability to care for another life form as a team and traveling overseas can serve as wakeup calls, living with your girlfriend can be a rude awakening to say the least — so make sure you’re ready. Do not live together if one of you is being pressured in any way; you must both be prepared to go into this head first, because if you approach the move prematurely and it doesn’t work out, it could mean the detriment of your relationship.

I may have already talked you out of moving in together, but I hope not because I do believe that it’s a necessary step in a serious relationship of long-term capacity. And if you go about it the right away and with the right attitude, you might never want to leave home at all — that is, when she’s there.

survival tips

Sacrifice and compromise

If you’re a neat freak who can’t stand your girlfriend’s tendency to leave plates piling up in the sink, don’t wig out on her if she waits until the end of the day to do the dishes, and by the same token, she should make a concerted effort to clear the sink. As well, if you’re an early bird and your girlfriend has lunch at dinnertime, let her sleep and don’t be noisy in the morning. Make some sacrifices just to put her at ease, and make sure the effort is reciprocated — this is your roommate with benefits, after all.

Make schedules

Speaking of making compromises, a good way to ensure that you both fulfill your end of the bargain is by scheduling each other’s duties. It doesn’t have to be carved in stone, but at least a schedule can outline what each one should do to make sure they’re pulling their own weight in the apartment. You can divide everything from doing the groceries and taking out the trash to vacuuming, and no, performing a sexual favor or two won’t get you out of toilet cleaning detail (okay, maybe just once).

Outline details immediately

Making schedules of household chores is nowhere near as important as outlining the “contract” of your living arrangement — the lease. It is imperative that you both understand and agree to the terms of the lease and however it is split. The same goes for house or condo ownership, if you decide to purchase. Of lesser importance but key nonetheless, are the terms of your living arrangement. Make sure you’re on the same wavelengths where your budgets and social lives are concerned.

Get your own life

Speaking of social life, it’s important that you each maintain your own lives outside of the apartment walls. You should understand if she wants to go out with the girls or have them over for dinner, and she should equally understand that you could go out with your buddies, without feeling guilty if she’s staying home alone watching reruns. And don’t feel guilty for having your own plans once in a while — you each need your separate lives, so that you don’t reach the point of total dependency.

Set up alone time

By the same token, make sure that you each have time to chill out on your own, apart from socially. Even if you don’t have separate rooms, your own space doesn’t need physical walls — establish that you might just sit in the kitchen reading the paper or want to watch TV alone in the den. She should do the same, and make sure to respect each other’s “me time.”

Designate purchases

It might also be a good idea to split up your large purchases. Rather than dividing the cost of the couch and fridge, I recommend splitting up the actual purchases, such as furniture vs. electronics, or bedroom vs. kitchen. In the case of an eventual breakup, it might be hard to split the bed down the middle, even if it is a king size.

call the movers, we’re coming

As you can see, there’s more to think about and work on than simply finding a place you both agree on and calling the movers. Make sure you establish all the details of your living arrangement, and understand that there is nowhere to run and hide if you get into a fight and can’t get away with bringing a new girl home.

But don’t get scared because although this is a huge step in any relationship, it is worth taking if you love spending time together and want to share more than memories — the good and the not-so-good.

via Moving in together – AskMen.

boyfriends for rent

Chinese young people, especially women, are under so much pressure to present acceptable boyfriends to their parents that some rent fake sweethearts, as Tan Weiyun reports on the Chinese Single’s Day today.

Clean-cut, bespectacled and financially secure Matthew Fan, 27, started to “rent” himself out as a fake boyfriend two years ago. He’s single.

“I wanted to earn some pocket money when I had just graduated from university and started to work,” says the Chongqing native who works full-time as an accounts manager. “This rental business isn’t bad, especially during the Chinese Lunar New Year when there are family reunions.”

Fan might not be handsome, but he’s attractive enough and he’s definitely reassuring to anxious parents who want their daughters to demonstrate they have a viable marriage prospect, a steady boyfriend.

On Chinese Single’s Day today, Fan and other rentable young men note that as the year ends, there’s more need for their services at New Year’s Eve parties with parents and the endless Spring Festival family parties of the Chinese Lunar New Year (beginning on January 30, 2014). Mid-Autumn Festival is another lucrative period of family reunions.

While some young singles are getting high at singles parties, some are quite low because they’re alone. They know they will soon be faced with ceaseless, annoying inquiries from nosy parents and relatives: Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend yet? When are you going to get married? You’re getting old.

Come on. Not again. But this badgering annual ritual cannot be avoided, especially at reunions, and some single men and women are turning to rent-a-boyfriend/girlfriend services to keep their parents and relatives off their back.

Fan, and advertises online — charges 800 yuan (US$131) per day in China and 1,500 yuan per day in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau. There’s a three-day minimum and his employer pays transport, accommodation, dining and other fees.

“I only rent my time, not my body — you know what I mean,” Fan says. He has a girlfriend who doesn’t know about his moonlighting.

Type the keyword rent boy/girlfriend on Taobao.com, China’s largest online shopping website, and more than 250 search results pop up. They provide a range of services and prices range from 500 yuan to 8,000 yuan per day, or around 50 yuan an hour on average.

Services include accompanying clients back home to see their parents, chatting with parents, attending social gatherings, going shopping and taking part in various other activities.

The price list per hour can be quite detailed. In some cases, dining is 50 yuan an hour (the employer pays), shopping 30 yuan, seeing a movie 30 yuan (double price for a thriller). A by-courtesy-only kiss costs 50 yuan, which will also include a free embrace, free hand-holding and a free goodbye kiss on the cheek or forehead.

“It all depends on how you look at it. If you look at it as a business, then it’s much easier,” says 26-year-old Xu Li from Yancheng City, Jiangsu Province, a postgraduate of Shanghai East China University of Sciences and Technology. He works part-time as a simulated sweetheart.

Usually, he and his client exchange photos online and settle on services and prices. Then they meet beforehand for a rehearsal. She briefs him on her situation and her family; they establish the boyfriend’s job, salary, family background and how they fell in love.

via Bogus boyfriends for rent to please parents – People\’s Daily Online.

Without Regrets

We all have something stored in our memory banks of the past that we wish we could have done differently, or something we wish we didn’t do.

As we get older we learn and grow. But that doesn’t mean we have to regret what we did before we learned how to do things differently. If we didn’t go through those experiences we might not have grown into the strong and knowledgeable people we are today.

So what I’m proposing is that we get rid of the negative thoughts—the could have’s, might have’s, and should have’s—and start living a life that won’t make us feel regretful. Not even at an older, wiser age.

Here is a list of 40 things you can do to practice living life with no regrets:1. Realize that it’s okay to make mistakes. Just make sure to learn from your past mistakes, forgive yourself and move on.

2. Make your health and wellness a top priority and always take care of yourself so you’re ready to take care of others.

3. Follow your own path—not one that others want you to follow.

4. Find the humor in life and laugh like there is no tomorrow.

5. Relax and move with the flow of life by being unafraid of change.

6. Be adventurous by trying new things and taking more risks.

7. Have more intellectual curiosity and embrace creativity.

8. Try to find happiness with as many different people as you can.

9. Think for yourself instead of letting other people’s opinions influence you too much.

10. Try not to judge people before you get to know them.

11. Be thankful for what you have now instead of thinking about what you don’t have.

12. Wish well upon everyone equally and try to admire without envy.

13. Share your happiness with others instead of hoarding it all for yourself.

14. Don’t try to change someone—love who they are now.

15. Enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

16. Know that happiness is bigger than any bank account.

17. Control negative thoughts so that they don’t contribute to the outcome of your life.

18. Use your energy wisely because spending energy complaining, worrying or being impatient is just wasted energy.

19. Be bold. Find the courage to change things that should be changed and accept that there are some things that cannot be changed.

20.Love your work. If you don’t currently love what you do, figure out what you would love, and take the first step toward that life.

21. Turn your discontent into a mystery and enjoy trying to solve it.

22. Face problems from different angles in order to find solutions.

23. Gain independence by realizing that on this earth we are all dependent upon each other.

24. Change your perspective by taking on a wider view of things.

25. Don’t waste time trying to bring disagreeable people around to liking you.

26. Become the person you would like to spend the rest of your life with.

27. Be honest with yourself and others by saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

28. Treat people with respect and compassion.

29. Live in the now by loving the present and being aware of your thoughts and actions. Think happy thoughts and speak powerful words.

30. Try not to put things off until later.

31. Never hold grudges.

32. Face your fears head on and try to do the things that you think you cannot do.

33. Spend time with people who make you happy while also not depending on other people for your own happiness.

34. Stand up for yourself and others and don’t let anyone or anything hold you back.

35. Be yourself and love who you are now.

36. Be a participant in life rather than an observer.

37. Do the things that you love to do as much as you can.

38. Write out a list of goals and achieve them by doing them step by step. Don’t give up when things get difficult.

39. Do something every day that makes you feel proud of yourself—commit random acts of kindness whenever you get the chance.

40. And always keep on moving forward.

via 40 Ways to Live Life Without Regrets.

7 Things to Consider Before Living Together

It didn’t take long for me to realize that living with my girlfriend might require a slight adjustment period—we were still packing my stuff for the move to her place. I was lugging yet another heavy box through the kitchen on my way downstairs to the van, sweat streaming from my face, when Kirsten looked up from the cutting board she was carefully wrapping in newspaper.

“Oooh!” she sighed, spotting a snow globe we picked up during our first vacation together. “Remember where we bought this?”

I’m dying, she’s dawdling. Maybe, just maybe, I started to think, Kirsten and I are not a single soul split betwixt two bodies.

Shacking up is a good way to save on rent and get lovin’ without scheduling an appointment. But there’s more to moving in than sex and money. “You’re agreeing to share your lives, not just your living space,” says Marshall Miller, proprietor of unmarried.org and coauthor of Unmarried to Each Other: The Essential Guide to Living Together as an Unmarried Couple. “When a couple agree to move in together, they’re often at a high point of feeling good about one another. But cohabitation quickly gets to the nitty-gritty of life.”

Come to grips with these seven revelations before you move in together and maybe the relationship will outlast the lease.

Your Relationship Will Change

Now that you’re “domestic partners,” things are going to be different around here, mister. Effective immediately. “Cohabitation,” says Miller, “is a lot like turning the TV to your favorite channel—and then leaving it on 24-7. You’re bound to see some stuff you don’t like so much.”

For one thing, your beloved won’t always look as hot as she used to when you picked her up on a Saturday night. Yes, that gorgeous lady is still in there somewhere, but now you’ll have to get acquainted with the stinky chick who just came home from the gym, and the testy woman who’s too preoccupied with the Weiner account to succumb to your frisky antics. Know this and accept it before going in.

Your Sex Life Will Change

Not every night will end with the two of you naked, sticky, and sweaty. “When you live apart, you make time for sex—any minute you can get your hands on each other, you do,” says Logan Levkoff, a sexologist and advice columnist. “But when you’re around one another all the time, the frequency of sexual activity may taper off.

“The solution,” Levkoff says, “is still making time for intimacy but changing your expectations. Realize that you can be intimate without having intercourse.”

This means you’ll need to accept the transition from hardware to software: less bonking, more spooning.

Gentlemen, Start Your Swiffers

Divvying up domestic chores is one of the first things a cohabiting couple needs to discuss. Forget equality. “Everything doesn’t have to be fifty-fifty,” says Andrew Cherlin, Ph.D., author of The Deinstitutionalization of American Marriage and Public and Private Families: An Introduction. “If one of you works 50 hours a week and the other 25, there’s nothing wrong with the less busy person taking on more of the housework.”

Reduce the tension and tedium by volunteering for housework that doesn’t drive you crazy. My buddy Josh hates washing silverware, but unlike most people, he doesn’t mind scrubbing pots and pans. So after dinner he tackles the heavy metal while his wife merrily tends to the flatware. Compromises like this make a relationship work.

Love is Annoying

It’s inevitable: Now that you’re living together, you’re gradually going to discover each other’s irritating habits. She makes a weird noise while she sleeps; you fart with abandon.

“One way to soften the blow is to try living together for a spell before you actually move in,” Levkoff advises. “Just make sure it’s a normal, mundane week so you’ll get a real feel for what the morning rush is like, what the dishwashing situation is like.”

The key, no matter how long you’ve been living together: When confronted with one of those fingernails-on-the-chalkboard-of-life moments, don’t let it slide. But resist the urge to bite her head off.

Wynne Whitman, coauthor of Shacking Up, prefers a gentler, more constructive approach. “Instead of yelling, ‘Why the hell do you always leave your briefcase on the floor?’ try saying, ‘It makes me very happy when you put your briefcase away.’ This phrasing makes your roomie think she’s doing you a favor, and it doesn’t seem like a chore.”

You’re Not Engaged—Yet

There is a subtext to this move. According to the Annual Review of Sociology, about 75 percent of cohabiting couples say they plan to marry their partners. Additionally, 55 percent of marriages today are preceded by cohabitation.

But not every couple who live together are destined to walk down the aisle together. “We interviewed a woman who assumed that moving in with her boyfriend was an engagement,” Whitman recalls. “But she never actually spoke to her boyfriend about it. When she found out he didn’t want to marry her, she was heartbroken.”

Like it or not, when you move in with your girlfriend, you’re sending a message: “I’m ready to settle down.” Unless you’ve made it clear that living together is not a formal engagement, she’s likely to think there’s a diamond ring in her immediate future.

Your Problems are Wedlocked

Live-in couples have to deal with many of the same issues spouses do. One of the thorniest is keeping the relationship fresh. Because you’re no longer dating, it’s crucial that you maintain the relationship’s fun factor. For starters, don’t become too reliant on one another.

“It’s really important not to put all your eggs in one basket,” says Whitman. “Often, people make the mistake of giving up all their other relationships just because they’re living with someone. You need to spend time apart to appreciate the time you spend together.”

Live and Learn—Together

You may discover, as I did, that your girlfriend’s good qualities more than make up for her uselessness as a mover. Or you may find that her insistence on replacing the toilet-paper roll so it feeds from the bottom is too much for you to take. Either way, you’re in this together. Find a way to get over, through, or around every obstacle and your relationship may evolve into something even more wonderful than convenient sex.

“There’s a misconception that people who cohabit never want to get married,” says Whitman. “I disagree. I think, on the contrary, they want to make sure they have only one marriage. They want to make sure this is the right person before they commit.”

And before they have to lug all those boxes back down 13 flights of stairs.

via http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/relationship_tips_cohabitation/printer.php

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