Are you ready to make the move to live with your significant other? It’s a big step, but cohabitating couples can benefit from learning one another’s quirks and living habits. But don’t do it before you’re ready because breaking up while living together can be a real bummer.

In March 2012, my boyfriend and I decided that we would look for an apartment together. Not only did it make financial sense, but we were already spending a significant portion of our time with one another, so we thought–why not? It can be tough at times, but it was the right decision and we’ve already resigned our lease to reside in our two-bedroom apartment for another year. Here are my tips for new cohabitating couples:

Accept Your Differences

Cohabitating couples must first learn to acknowledge, understand and accept each other’s differences–not only as individuals, but as different genders. One of the biggest challenges I had to overcome after moving in with my boyfriend was that I was living with a boy! Not to be biased, but men typically have a much more laid-back perspective on things like cleanliness and order. Coming to terms with the fact that both of you are going to have a different opinion on these types of things will ease a lot of tension, but both parties need to have this understanding. If one of you likes things extra clean, you may just have to take matters into your own hands.

Don’t Be Hard-Headed

You and your sweetie are going to fight–it’s inevitable–but the way you handle it is what matters. There are times when I get mad at my boyfriend about the dumbest things, and we get into an argument. But after cooling down, I realize that I was actually in the wrong. Don’t be stubborn and wait for an apology, because you’re probably not going to get it. By just being willing to admit that you’re wrong, you both will grow stronger as a couple.

Acknowledge Good Qualities

It’s easy to nitpick and say what your significant other is doing “wrong,” especially when you are living with him or her. Saying a simple “thank you” after your beau did the dishes or cleaned the cat’s litter box isn’t hard, and can make living with one another so much more satisfying. No one is perfect, and always pointing out a person’s bad qualities will really wear on him or her after a while.

Take Couple Time

Once you’re living with your significant other, it may seem like you’re with one another all the time, but that doesn’t mean that you are acting like a couple. Sure, you may spend the whole night together going to Target, but that isn’t romantic, is it? Make sure to plan regular dates with one another, whether you decide to go out or stay in your apartment. Just cooking a nice meal and opening a bottle of wine on a Thursday night can be a great way to bond as a couple, as opposed to roommates.

…and Some Alone Time

Even though my boyfriend and I live in the same apartment, we spend less time together than some of my other couple friends who live separately. Taking time to hang out with friends will make your time together more special. Some of my girlfriends and I make it a point to have a girls night a few times a month. Naturally, this makes it easier for the guys to hang out with one another too.