Outside of getting married or having a kid, the decision to move in with your SO is one of the biggest (and most potentially wallet-draining) in a man’s life. There’s so much on the line: your priceless collection of minty-fresh kicks, those twice-weekly raids with your console-gaming crew, “no pants Sundays” — and, oh yeah, your relationship. Here’s how to move in together without losing yourself (or your significant other).

Where to live?

After the first flush of being psyched about taking the plunge into domestic bliss-ville (pop. 2) has passed, it happens that you and your SO might start talking about logistics: what will go where, whose TV to keep, how to divide the closet … and then you realize that each of you is talking about the other person moving into *their* place, not the other way around. Awkward.

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This is like the Yalta Conference of moving in together, and should be treated as delicately. You and your partner need to have a frank discussion about how to divide postwar Germany … um, I mean, whose residence is best suited (on all vectors) for cohabitation. Some things to consider:

Whose place…

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  • Makes the most financial sense?
  • Is more spacious, comfortable, or well-appointed?
  • Is closest to the pizza delivery place? No, not Tony’s. The good one.

Honestly, though — unless one of you owns your current domicile, and this move isn’t just a stopgap, “my roommates kicked me out for eating all the good peanut butter” measure, you’re probably better off looking for a new-to-both-of-you primary residence. That way, you won’t have to fight a losing battle — and yes, you are going to lose — as to whether or not your collection of vintage South American action figures looks best in the living room, the bedroom, or in a dark storage unit 10 miles away. You’ll both stay more stress-free by meeting each other halfway, on virgin territory.

Moving D-Day

So you found a place that you both like and can afford. The last of your boxes have been loaded into the truck and it’s time to bounce. But as you pause in the doorway of your soon-to-be Last Known Address, you get hit with a fever dream of the next 12 hours: sweaty, exhausted, hangry arguments with your SO over why you packed the condiments with your high-school trophy collection; where your beloved leather couch is going to go; and who forgot to call the cable company for an Internet hookup. It’s enough to make you check the lease for a breakup rider.

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It’s important to treat this whole endeavor with more care than you would during a typical moving-in-with-bros situation. A few things you should add to your moving-day checklist:

  • For god’s sake, hire movers. It’s the best money you’ll ever spend, trust me. And it’ll eliminate the need for any strained, beads-of-sweat-popping-out, “no, you have to lift up your end!”–style exchanges. If you absolutely can’t afford movers, ply your buddies with pizza and beer and send your GF to a spa for the actual heavy-lifting portion of the day.
  • Communicate early and often. Once it’s time to start unpacking boxes and arranging furniture, don’t just unilaterally put things places. Take this process a little more slowly, and ask your SO where she thinks X lamp should go, or whether or not Y rug really ties the room together. Remember that this is where both of you live now, and you should jointly decide how it gets set up. (If you didn’t follow my advice, and she’s moving into your place, the same thing applies: You have to make room for her stuff, and make her feel like she has ownership of the space, too.)
  • Mark the occasion. Take some time to commemorate the fact that this whole moving in together thing is good and exciting. Get a bottle of Champagne, order from the *good* pizza place, set up a cardboard box in your living room, and light a candle or two. Voila: moving-day date night. It’ll pause the frenetic proceedings and give you guys some time to look deeply into each other’s eyes and avoid thinking about a time in the near future when you will be arguing about whose turn it is to do the dishes.

Save the cave

Listen, I’m going to break it to you: Unless you have literal unlimited rooms in your new place, your man cave, at least as it was in its heyday, will be no more. On the other hand, your home will no longer smell strongly of used sweat sock. So there’s that. Regardless, there’s no need to freak out about losing touch with your old dude self; you can incorporate parts of your man cave into your new home, so long as you do it strategically.

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  • Decide what’s *really* important to you. You can’t have it all. The aforementioned action-figure collection is going to have to go. But a current-gen video-game system and a big flat-screen TV? These are things you can sell your significant other on, so long as you take the correct tack, which is: You can “borrow” your parents’ login info to stream — in high-def! — your fave premium cable shows on them. (You can leave out the part about that new first-person shooter that’s dropping come Christmastime.)
  • Get involved in home decor. If you don’t want your new crib to look like no guy has ever set foot in it, you need to get involved in how it’s decorated. When your SO says she’s going shopping for furniture or pillows or linens, get on the Internet and find some places in your town that cater to more dude-ish decor. Tag along on the shopping trip and suggest hitting those places as well. That way, you’ll end up with a half-and-half mix of both of your design sensibilities. (However, if your design sensibility is mostly just “as many framed hockey jerseys as possible,” you might be a lost cause.)
  • Get thee to a garage. Ah, the last refuge of the dedicated Cave Man. There’s a reason why dads since time immemorial (or, I guess, since cars were invented) have retreated to the garage to durdle around: It is a space that repels prettification or taming of any kind. (Permanent oil stains will do that.) So if you find yourself missing that man-cave vibe, get yourself some lawn chairs, a cooler full of beer, a scavenged TV set, and relax with your pals in the humid dustiness of your garage. Honestly, you’ll appreciate all the more how floral your new place smells once you go back inside.

Change, though stressful, is a good thing. And did you really want to be living in your hole of an apartment for the rest of your life, anyway? No. Real men move in. Follow these tips, stock your new medicine cabinet with Gillette Clear Gel, and you’ll be on your way to peaceful, stress-free cohabitation in no time. #NoSweat

Premiering Soon: The new video series YOU GOT THIS! presented by Adequate Man in partnership with Gillette Clear Gel. Tune in here!

Hunter Slaton is a senior writer for Studio@Gawker. He lives — happily — with his wife in Brooklyn.

This post is a sponsored collaboration between Gillette Clear Gel and Studio@Gawker.

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Illustration by Rob Dobi.