Now that we live together, we don't get along

Lauren Gray

Hello Lauren,
I have been living with my boyfriend for 3 months and we have been together for 2 years. Lately we’ve been bickering more often and our communication seems to shut down. He pulls away and I get sad. It’s hard when this happens because we used to never be like this. Yesterday he said he needed space from me. He said he's mad he needs to tell me where he is, and I expressed it makes me feel safe to know. I am scared he is pulling away. How can I handle this without losing what I want?


Hi Chloe,
I know where you’re coming from. I've been with my boyfriend for 3 years and we've been living together for about 2 of them. I’m not going to lie...

It's a BIG FAT transition!!!
It's one thing to be cool with his taking alone time when you live apart and you don't need to be physically around him when he pulls away. But it’s whole other kit and caboodle to actually be confronted with his cave time and still have to be around him.
Suddenly when you share the same space and he pulls away, it can feel terrifying. You ask yourself:

1.    Why is he so cold and distant all of a sudden?
2.    Is it something I did?
3.    Should I: try to make it better by being overly giving? Ask him what’s wrong? Make him jealous to get his attention? Pick a fight to engage him? Or simply ignore it?
Great questions!

The Answers:
1.     He’s cold and distant because he needs alone time to balance his hormones, take a break from the honey-do list, and either deal with his problems or ignore them, whichever he needs in the moment.
2.     Most of the time, it's NOT something you did. He just needs a break from being a partner for a minute so that he can just be an individual.
3.     You should ignore it. But it's hard to ignore something when you're not clear on what you are dealing with. So you need to set up an easy language you both can use to communicate around this need for taking space.
How to communicate the need for taking space
The best system for couples who live together is one where these words are said out loud and are met with understanding, acceptance, and a 'no big deal' attitude:
"I just need some space and I'll let you know when I want to reconnect"
All you REALLY need is to know WHEN he's pulling away so you don't have to guess, have your gestures rejected or take his change in attitude personally.
As long as he feels safe that his request will be met with love and understanding (not pouts, tears, or neediness) then he will gradually learn how to self-connect and ask for the space he needs as soon as he needs it.
This is a training process for both of you.

Make sure to give each other a lot of space to make mistakes. Living together is a BIG adjustment. Don’t underestimate it.
Once you've adjusted though, it's business as usual. “I need some space today” are words that are casually said in our house on a regular basis.
We know to respect the request and trust that the one taking space will let the other person know when they are ready to connect again. Sometimes, it’s just for an hour, sometimes its a couple days. But because we have practiced this over and over again, the FEAR is gone. We trust that we always return to each other in love.
It’s just the early days of living together that are hard. Once the bumps are smoothed out, it's magic sharing a home with the one you love. You become each other's home.
What is that boy up to? (Keeping tabs on your Honey)
When it comes to wanting to know where he is and what he's doing...he feels like this encroaches on his space. The more you respect his space the faster he'll return to you and the more generous he'll be with his love.
However, I understand wanting to know when he's coming home. I too feel safer knowing when to expect the front door to open.
So my advice is to compromise.
He doesn't need to report to you WHAT he's doing or WHO he's with (you need to trust him) but he needs to text you WHEN he’s coming home.

This should include a text earlier in the day/night with an estimated time of arrival back at home and another text when he's ACTUALLY on his way home.
This will give you the peace of mind you need and give him the freedom and privacy he needs.
Why he wants to keep his schedule a secret
In time I think you will find he will become more and more open about what he’s doing and where he’s going. But right now, two things are happening:
1.     He is used to a certain freedom where he can come and go as he pleases and he doesn’t need to tell anyone about it. The last time he had to report to someone, it was to his MOM.

So naturally when you start asking him for his schedule, he rebels because it feels like you are mothering him.
This will go away with time as he realizes that you are not going to tell him what he can and cannot do (like his mom,) you just want to KNOW!

2.     He doesn’t feel like his boundaries are being respected. Out of self-preservation so that he can get the space he needs, he exaggerates his boundary and refuses to tell you anything. This way he can ensure that he get’s the alone time and the privacy he needs.

Overtime, he will relax his boundaries as he sees that you support his alone time and that it’s “no big deal.” 
Why so much bickering? We didn't used to be like this!
The bickering you spoke of is very common and classic to a newly moved-in-together couple.
This is because you are not taking enough space from each other.

Whereas before your relationship had a natural together, not together flow, now that you share the same space you are together ALL the time!
This doesn’t work.
A good way to know whether you are spending too much time with your partner and need alone time is when you experience one of these three clues:
1.     Overly prickly,
2.     Overly sensitive,
3.     Needy/insecure

Alone time will help both of you individually and exponentially as a couple. 
So, find a good book and go to a coffee shop, take a hike, immerse yourself in a baking project while listening to loud girl music, visit your family, get a glass of wine with a friend, take a zumba class, find a nice patch of grass and journal, plant something and take care of it...The more projects you start, the more fun taking alone time will be.
If you want to successfully grow in love with the man you live with, this is the way to do it.
With love,

read more blog posts from Lauren Gray
  • Victoria
     4/15/2016 8:56:07 AM
    this has helped so much and its a crazy coincidence because she posted this 3 years ago and to this day individuals like myself are going through this same dilemma.
  • Lgraney
     9/6/2015 5:48:49 AM
    My Boyfriend moved in with in me about two months ago. Both of us have been living on our own for more than 10 years for each of us, and for me, I get upset when I see the habits that he had when living alone are creeping into my space. How do I keep it at a minimum without making living with me miserable for him? Thank you Lauren for your advice!! Xxoo
  • PartyDiva Sharon
     7/8/2015 7:06:34 AM
    I've been in a pen-pal type relationship for about 3 months. Very different than anything I have ever experienced. Met on a dating site and we communicate via texting everyday. I feel so close to him and he says the same about me. We have not met in person, but I feel it's not far in the future we'll meet. I enjoy your blog so I can be in the know about men in general. Thanks for all you do! Especially explaining the time warp thing :)
  • Lauren Gray
     11/5/2014 6:09:47 PM
    Vancity93, That must be really hard. I think if you follow the advice in this blog, things will get better. I recommend not only letting HIM have space but also to take quality me-time of your own, something that nurtures you and makes YOU happy. Living together aint no small thing and if you'd like more support, I'm happy to work with you one on one: Sending you and your sweetie lots of love and light.
  • vancity93
     10/3/2014 8:47:46 AM
    Hi Lauren, First time posting anything like this but I need some help and I don't no where else to turn! I have been in a relationship for a year now, and a month ago we moved in together. We had the best relationship, so much fun together and great communication .Everyday since we met we have been together, and we never had a fight. Until he moved into my apartment, and things got bad. I don't no if its because we moved in to soon, or what.. We have been bickering non stop, about anything and everything,our spark is completely gone and sometimes it feels like he just hates me. There is no intimacy between us, its even hard for me to get a kiss out of him without it being a struggle. I have never lived with anyone, always by myself and he just moved out of his parents. I no it takes time to adjust .. and I have been trying to give him as much space as possible, but even when I go back home it goes right back to the way it was before. Im lost on what to do , because me trying isn't working anymore.. Any advice? Thanks so much !! :)...
  • Lauren Gray
     3/7/2014 1:30:08 PM
    Writerchick92, from one writer chick to another, I'm so glad this post could give you some relief. And thank you for your share! :-)
  • writerchick92
     1/24/2014 7:59:11 AM
    I am soo relieved after reading this post. My boyfriend and I have been together a year and a half and we moved in together three months ago, and it has been hard! It's also been great and was a good decision. I have an idea in my head of how a relationship should be and when it's not like that, I get really worried. I think the idea of how a relationship should be came from movies and tv shows, not from actual real life relationships, so I'm learning to adjust. We both are independent people who like to do our own thing and when I do want to hang out with just him, especially since our schedules are the opposite, it gets a little hard. When he comes home at night after not seeing each other all day he either wants to go to the gym or go to bed because he has to be up early. The day to day living together is an adjustment because I miss when we used to be so excited to see each other and want to be close to each other. We still do, don't get me wrong, but obviously if you see someone every day you don't feel that 'oh I missed you so much!' feeling. This has helped me a lot I love how she explained how it's completely normal for a guy to push away, and to trust them when they want to go out and do their own thing. Because I do the same thing, and I would get pretty mad if my boyfriend tried to stop me from doing the things I want to do. Being in a relationship is definitely not easy, especially when you live together. I think being in a real relationship means it's not always going to be easy, just like a lot of things you want out of life. You have to work at it and go through the trials and errors, and if you love someone enough and they love you enough, it'll only make the relationship stronger. ...
  • Lauren Gray
     11/11/2013 4:45:23 PM
    Hi jaw23, A few things are happening. One, you will notice this happening in newlyweds as well: anytime there is a big commitment, it's easy to feel trapped. This heightens the effect when you don't feel like your needs are being met. Every problem/misunderstanding you have gets projected into the future: "this will be this bad for-e-ver." That's why he freaked out over every little thing and "over-reacted." Two: He projected his past experience with women onto you. Even though YOU never specifically gave him a curfew, he felt the pressure of other women looking to him for that (mom, ex-girlfriends, etc.) He wants to make you happy and he's going off of what other women expected of him. Whether you live with him or not, definitely have a conversation with him about what YOU want and how that may differ from what he's experienced in the past. Show him HOW to make YOU happy. Three: If you move with this relationship, the task I would challenge you to do is to communicate more, lay the foundation of trust so that he feels like he CAN go to you with issues in the relationship and that "conversation" can be a safe and loving thing. If you'd like further help I offer one-on-one training with my Email Advice Package: Best of luck to you!...
  • Jah23
     11/11/2013 9:39:22 AM
    Hi Lauren, I've been dating my boyfriend for about a year and a half and we recently decided to live together. Because my lease was up on my apartment and his wasn't, we decided that I would move in with him. He told me when we were talking about living together that he hasn't lived with anyone for a long time and that it may be a rough transition for him. Knowing this, I went into it with an open mind and ready to make sure to be extra sensitive to his needs. Almost immediately he started acting different towards me, not talking to me as much, not answering my texts or emails, not wanting to touch me or kiss me, not telling me he loved me. I figured this must have been what he meant by "rough transition" so I didn't make a big deal out of it and just kept trying to give him space and be there when he needed me. About a week after I moved in with him, he asked me to move out, saying this wasn't working for him. During this talk he got very angry and emotional, bringing up issues he's had in the past with me and our relationship. It was like the flood gates were open and he was going to tell me everything he was ever upset about even I thought we/he had moved on from those issues. It was really hard for me to hear. He also said he felt like he had to be home at a certain time everyday when though I never asked him to do that. He said he wants to be able to keep his own hours and schedule and not feel bad about it. I ended up taking some of my things and staying with a friend that night. Now I have my own place and we're trying to work things out. I just don't know if we should try to continue our relationship or not. Where do we go from here? I'm hurt and sad that he didn't even want to try to make things work. A week seems like a pretty sort time to really get a feel for living with someone. I feel like he just gave up when things got uncomfortable for him. I'm just confused because mo
  • gretelyns
     11/4/2013 8:10:53 AM
    Thank you Lauren for your letter. I feel better knowing what you just said. My guy in not the communicator and never has been. He struggles with that but with all you and your dad have taught me over the years, it get filtered into our relationship. He is learning so well and I just sit in amazement at times when he uses the tools back to me. Not letting things go silent is huge and makes a world of difference with us. Thank you for that reminder. Wording things in his language is so important and one I work on very carefully. Again you have guilded me along so well. ;) If I think about it, these big strong men can be so fragile when it comes to our words. Its a weapon many women use and don't realize the damage we do in our relationships. I was recently told by my pastor that it's like if a man were to hit a woman with his fist every time he got mad or upset at us. We would run, dodge, fight back and most just get away. It would hurt and be painful. He told me that for a man when we use words that blame, condemn, belittle, its just as if we are using OUR fist on them over and over. Ouch! That opened my eyes wide! Its been my biggest challenge to choose words that do not do that to get out my needs and wants across to my man. Its like learning a totally NEW language. I am really getting it down now with this guy and it is so amazing how well it works. He is still a bit "gun shy" cause his ex beat him up with hurtful words for 12 years but he is slowly coming out of his non trusting shell. I cant thank you enough for all you have taught me! Love ya Gretch <3...
  • Lauren Gray
     11/3/2013 1:45:14 PM
    Hi Gretelyns, Great question! I think you can trust in the fact that you and your partner have good communication and have been able to come up with solutions together so far. This is a great foundation. Knowing that it will be a significant transition also sets you up for success because you don't come in with the expectation that it will be "easy." At the same time, it doesn't need to be "hard" or "scary!" It's just about exercising your communication muscles so that you come up with clear agreements as soon as things start to come up. (Don't go silent long enough for resentment to sink in.) And just remember the points I brought up in this blog. You'll do great!...
  • gretelyns
     11/3/2013 10:38:11 AM
    Hey Lauren, What about going from a LDR to living together. How huge of a shock will this be? Will it be like starting over in a whole new relationship? I hear you and your dad saying LDR are fantasy in a way cause you really dont get the day in day out of things. I agree with this completely. I have been in a LDR for a year and a half and see each other 1-2 times a month for 4-10 days at a time. As things do come up we find solutions for right away and work at them each time. Not easy but so far so good. At some point we may live together but my fear is it will shock us and not looking forward to it. Is knowing and expecting this to happen half the battle?...

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