Why are there relationship problems after moving in together? It’s supposed to be the most romantic time!
And yet, across the board, it seems to create a whole new host of communication challenges: bickering, misunderstandings, secrets, silence, tension, stress, emotions…
The good news is: it’s normal! The better news is: in this post, I’m going to share with you how to solve these new issues with grace and ease.
Believe it or not, the lessons you’ll learn today will serve you exponentially in the years to come. You can thank these issues for showing up now because it’s going to make the rest of your life together so much easier!!
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?
The Problem That Solves Everything
I know exactly where you’re coming from. I’ve lived with my partner for 9 years now and we love it! I can honestly say that because of our systems and agreements, the “Shelter in place” mandate added zero stress to our relationship.
And the great news for you is: I can point to the exact challenges in our first year living together that taught us so many of the relationship lessons that have carried us through nearly a decade and a global pandemic with romance and fun!
And the moments that taught us the most were the moments when he pulled away.
It’s one thing to be cool with him taking alone time when you live apart and you don’t need to be physically around him when he pulls away and turns off the warmth. But it’s a whole other kit and caboodle to actually be confronted with his cave time and still have to be around him.
Vocabulary Spotlight: Cave Time: Time where a man pulls away from intimacy to be by himself or with other men to rebuild his testosterone levels and find wellbeing.
Suddenly when you share the same space and he pulls away, it can feel cold, lonely, and terrifying. You ask yourself:
- Why is he so cold and distant all of a sudden?
- Is it something I did?
- 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! Great problem! This is the problem that actually solves everything. Let me show you.
Why He Pulls Away from Your Closeness
- Why is he so cold and distant all of a sudden?
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.
- Is it something you did?
Most of the time, it is NOT something you did. He just needs a break from being a partner for a minute so that he can just be an individual. This is a human need but it is also a biological need for men.
- What should you do to make it better?
You should ignore it. But it’s hard to ignore something when you’re not clear on what you’re dealing with. So you need to set up an easy language you both can use to communicate around this need for taking space. This is one of those agreements that has carried Glade and I through so much.
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’m ready to reconnect.”
Ideally, no one ever pulls away and you’re both perfect partners all the time with so much to give and no personal needs. But this is not reality for human beings. So, let’s clarify what you actually need in order for a realistic system to work for you:
All you really need to know is 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 hurt, tears, or neediness) then he will gradually learn 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.
Neither of you will be good at this at first. This is important to note so you don’t get frustrated or lose hope. Practice this line and give each other a lot of space to make mistakes. Moving in together gives rise to this relationship problem but it also creates the opportunity to develop this skill. Your work here will pay you back one hundredfold over the coming decades.
Once you’ve gone through the learning curve, this becomes 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 it’s a couple of 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.
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 and that’s why he got all cranky. 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 a win-win 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.
Why He Wants to Keep His Schedule a Secret
Over time he’ll loosen up, build trust with you, and become more and more open about what he’s doing and where he’s going. But for right now, two things are happening:
- 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’re mothering him.
This will go away 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!
- 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 gets the alone time and the privacy he needs.
Over time, 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 Use to Be Like This!
Bickering is a very common and classic relationship problem after moving in together.
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. It is not a sustainable system for wellbeing.
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:
- Overly prickly
- Overly sensitive
- Needy and insecure
Alone time will help both of you individually and exponentially as a couple.
I even teach a 6-week course about this for women! Women are the heart and soul of a relationship and when they get empowered with the You-We-Me-Time ™ system — the sustainable system to experience fulfillment, joy, and lasting romance — the relationship thrives.
So, find a good book and go to another room, take a hike, immerse yourself in a baking project while listening to loud music, visit your family if you can, get a glass of wine with a friend, take an online 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.