It’s the sort of news that’ll have Grandma pining for the good old days: More unwed couples are living together than ever before, according to a new Census study. The number of shacked-up couples jumped 13 percent in the last year to an all-time high of 7.5 million, and experts say it’s not a decline in morals that’s driving the trend—it’s a drop in income.
The economy, they claim, is spurring unmarried sweethearts to pool their resources in the form of shared rent and utilities.
Which makes sense. It is cheaper to live with your lover. And while I’m technically a love child and thus a terribly unreliable source for conventional relationship advice, I have to tell you that living in sin is also jolly good fun.
When my fella and I first moved in together, I was so utterly enchanted with having him constantly nearby that I followed him from room to room in our tiny apartment.
“Whatcha doin’?” I’d ask.
“Watching the game.”
“Whatcha doin’ now?”
“Untangling these extension cords.”
“How ’bout now?”
“I’m reading, babe, and on a completely unrelated topic, is it going to be like this forever?”
It wasn’t. Adorable quirks (and also mine) have a way of tempering with time. But there’s one aspect of living together that I still haven’t gotten used to, still haven’t learned to love.
Cohabitating gives you the deep, primal “woot woot!” of working in tandem to helm a household; it gives you someone to kill your bugs, and someone to thank you for buying groceries. But it takes something from you, too—the privilege of primping in private.
I don’t mean the unsightly teeth-flossing and toenail-clipping to which every long-term couple must ultimately subject one another. I mean the dark arts that take place when a woman prepares for a night out with her honey—the secret sorcery that is spun between a half-dressed female, her mess of a closet, and the countless cosmetics on her bathroom counter.
Do you remember the feeling of being picked up for a date, and looking magically, miraculously hot when you opened the door? You’d planned the outfit yesterday, painted your nails that morning, and spent the whole afternoon on your hair and makeup. But he didn’t know that. All he knew was that when he got there, you were polished, perfumed perfection that made his mouth fall open involuntarily.
Do you remember that feeling? Good.
Because once you move in with Joe Jaw-Dropper, you never feel it again. Your primping is on full—and frankly, frightening—display.
If your beauty ritual looks like mine, there are primers and potions involved, razors and rollers, glosses and glazes. My date does his best to stay out of my spritzed-and-sprayed hair (I don’t think he wants to shatter the illusion any more than I do), but when he does pop in on my powder-room alchemy, I feel like the Wizard of Oz unmasked: “Uh … Pay no attention to that woman behind the curtain! The Great and Powerful Oz is, er, waiting for her mascara to dry …”
I know, I know, real love is about honesty and acceptance. And a good man should be flattered and appreciative to see how much effort his S.O. puts into her presentation.
But I still miss the days when he thought I was naturally sparkly and coconut-scented. When I could pretend to be perpetually gorgeous and glamified. When I followed my fella around the house—instead of hoping he wouldn’t come in.
Wait … I wonder if that’s what Grandma meant by “the good old days.”