Living With A Woman Again For The First Time
For the second time in my life, I am going to give cohabitation a shot. There’s a new couch in my living room, a new stand for the television, and a new dresser in the bedroom. Gina has a key to my place, and spends more time there than she does at her place. She is scheduled to be all moved in by the beginning of October, at the earliest, beginning of November the latest.
I have done this before, with someone else, back in 2007-2008. Longtime readers of the blog may remember when I first started writing this blog in 2009, many posts referenced my experiences living with my ex-girlfriend. For a refresher, here is a quick post I wrote almost four years ago. “The One Who Got Away”
One would think having gone through so much after my first experience with living with someone, I would know better than to do it again. That is, after all, how many people feel after they try and fail to do something the first time. They change the rules, convincing themselves such a decision will prevent them from the same outcome as before.
But, I have always maintained, living together wasn’t a mistake. Of course, many mistakes were made, most of them by me, but those mistakes would have been made even if she didn’t live with me. If I’m being honest, the closeness of our living together, the fact that I couldn’t hide (and tried in vain to do so) with the person I shared a bed with every night, is what eventually became my downfall.
In spite of those mistakes, and going through the pain of not only a breakup but it being compounded with her moving out process, I had a blast living with my ex. It was such a good experience, I came away convinced I would do it again, I just needed to be sure I changed things about myself for it to be successful.
The time that has passed since my last experience and this one I’m going into with Gina does not feel like it flew by. I wasn’t an uncle, my biological father was still alive, I never stepped foot inside a therapists’ office, and I had no idea what it was like to live life unemployed. That’s just a brief highlight reel of my experiences post-living with someone, but you get it. Things changed a lot once I was living on my own again. Even though Gina will be moving into the same apartment I once shared with someone else, she is not moving in with the same man who once lived there, and I don’t have the same life I had when I lived with someone the first time.
I always tell someone, living with your partner puts your relationship in dog years. My ex and I only lived together for 10-months, but that kind of intimacy was so intense, I could easily write more than a chapter about it. I could write a whole book, with 10 chapters on the experience. One of those chapters would be on the extreme social isolation I felt during that time.
Even though I already had some years under my belt of living here, my social life at the time my ex lived with me was very quiet. None of my closest friends from college were around, whereas now at least three of them live here. Other people I consider my closest friends were not even in my life during that time in my life. When I talk about my past life now of living with someone to people who are in my life now, I have to include a whole story about who my ex was and how we met. In other words, that time in my life of living with my ex, were like Obama’s years attending Columbia.
Not to speak for Gina too much (as share things about our relationship on here, it’s actually something I try to avoid) but she has expressed anxiety about moving into an apartment I once shared with someone else. Granted, I have spent more time living there as a single man than with a partner, those 10 months I’ve told her about have prompted questions from her about my past experience and whether or not I’m certain I want to do it again.
I have assured her things are different, all the way down to the bed. Even before we moved in some new furniture, my old furniture was changed around several times over in between my ex moving out and me moving in with Gina. But with all my old stuff now far away in either some landfill or a homeless person’s makeshift home, there is not one thing in my apartment now that I once shared with my ex.
Yet, the questions remain, not only from Gina, but from other people, including my mother. When I told my mom Gina and I are making plans to move in together, I said that even though I’ve done this before, it feels remarkably different than the last time I was making these plans.
For one, Gina and I have a completely different relationship than the one I had with my ex. Gina and my ex are both completely different people, but as I explained to my mom, the biggest difference between my past experience and the one I’m walking into is me. I told Gina something similar, and they both challenged me to explain what I mean when I say I’m a different person.
The fact is, the last time I asked someone to live with me, there was a part of me that looked at it as some sort of rites of passage into adulthood. I was 27-years-old and trying to prove to myself I was an adult. And therein was the problem: I wanted to make an adult move before I became an adult. I was of an adult age, but not a mature mindset. I was selling myself on the potential of the man I would become, and with that came a cockiness that was built around entitlement more than the embodiment of the actual man I was. When I asked my ex to move in with me, all I was running on was my love for her and a false premise that love was all I needed.
I am not asking Gina to move in with me just because I am in love with her. I could tell you how part of this move is being done to put our relationship on a path towards marriage, but that was the plan the last time I did this, so even though it’s true, again, I know better than to say that’s all I need. When my ex moved in with me, I felt like I already won. The idea of losing never crossed my mind, which is probably what led to this 0-1 record I hold when it comes to relationships in which I lived with the person.
As Gina and I scour the web looking for other things to make this place that was once my own, then mine and someone else’s, then my own again, into ours, I have thought a lot about how my past led me to this current situation. While I can acknowledge my past mistakes, it took me years to not let them jade me and instead, learn from them. Losing made a man out of me, and what I’ve learned is, even boys know how to win, but men know how to go on winning streaks. This move I’m making with Gina is not a second chance to get it right, it’s my only chance to get it right with her and I don’t want to be wrong.