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Growing Mold Together

My boyfriend of two years wants me to move in with him. "Count your blessings," my girlfriends tell me. Well, that's exactly what I'm NOT doing...even though I'm very much in love with him, and happy with our relationship, which I'd describe as "committed and stable." I just got out of college a year ago (as did my boyfriend), and this is my first time living alone and being completely independent. Even though my boyfriend stays over at my place a lot, and I stay over at his place even more, I like having my own space to come back to. Quite honestly, I can't see how he and I can merge our styles of living, which are very different on major levels -- namely, decor and household cleanliness. Am I being selfish and immature in my reluctance to compromise?

--In Love With Pig Pen

PEOPLE ARE annoying. All people. If you were living with Gandhi, it would only be a matter of time before you were screaming at him to get the damn sandals out from under the coffee table.

People are disgusting. All people. Why do you think movie stars have tinted windows on their cars? Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts have just as many boogers as the rest of us -- and, I'm sure, excavate them exactly the same way as the guy in the bumperless '76 Pinto with the doors duct-taped shut.

People are scary. All people. Even Cindy Crawford sometimes goes to bed Cindy Crawford and wakes up Bruce Vilanch. (On an even scarier note; Brad Pitt is now indistinguishable from Bruce Vilanch, thanks to Pitt's rejuvenation of Grizzly Adams chic for his latest role.)

Anybody who knows any people should know better than to live with one of them. This goes double and then some for people like you and your boyfriend, since it sounds like you think Windex is an aphrodisiac and he's in the process of turning his bathroom into a bacteriological petting zoo. Move in with him, and you're bound to slip into a Satanic snarl the fourth or fifth time you remind him that the kitchen sink isn't the place you leave dirty dishes for the archeologists to find.

Yes, a whole lot of couples do live together; perhaps because they're hoping to suction every molecule of love, lust, affection, and respect out of their collective lives. That's what always having one's partner around tends to do. To keep your relationship alive, keep separate apartments -- one for you; one for your boyfriend and his microbes. This means making plans to see him instead of making an effort to step over him. This, in turn, should make him seem more like an honored guest than like some smelly couch you haven't managed to pawn off on the thrift store.

Do dress accordingly. Now, I'm not suggesting that you get your hair sculpted into a birdcage every time you and he have plans to watch a video. It would, however, be a plus if you chipped off your pimple medication, splashed on a little makeup, and styled your hair so as not to give the impression that you're applying for a job to frighten away crows.

Finally, forget the dumb idea that lovers should know everything about each other. Ideally, the person you love should be under the impression that you're the one person on the planet who's never cut one. Intimacy, schmintimacy. Trust me -- nobody's going to love you more because they know you fart.

Copyright ©2002, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, "The Advice Goddess," which appears in over 70 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.