My boyfriend and I recently took a trip to New Haven, CT to IKEA. Beforehand, numerous people warned us of the arguments we’d have there. It’s almost an urban legend at this point, with dozens of articles and horror stories about ruined relationships across the web.
Now we’ve only been together for a little over a year, and were buying furniture and various other items for our first apartment together. That it itself sounded like a recipe for disaster. We’re also not prone to arguing–we have some minor spats here and there but we’re very diligent about talking things through, so it’s never progressed further–and were told that IKEA would be the place where we’d have our biggest argument yet.
He’s very level headed, I am sometimes irrational. He has never been to IKEA before, I’ve been countless times. We feared stress, tension, maybe even tears, but magically avoided it all. Here’s how:
Talk home decor
Months before we actually embarked on this trip, we talked home furnishings. The way my home is decorated is INCREDIBLY important to me, and I expected my boyfriend to be indifferent, like most of the men I know. He is not. He cares just as much as I do, but has pretty different taste. Whereas I’ve always been fond of white furniture (probably because I was never allowed to have it as a teen), he is ardently against it and prefers dark wood. I live for marble accents, and the occasional gold, and he finds both tacky. If it weren’t for having these discussions in advance, this would’ve definitely caused some tension. We’ve not only learned each other’s likes and dislikes, but come to terms with them. At first, I would get so angry about these things, like “How dare he have an opinion?!” but now I fully understand and even agree with most of his points, and vice versa. Don’t assume your S/O won’t care. Ask ahead of time and gauge where they’re at. Doing that made this trip so much easier for us–he got his dark furniture, I got my decorative pops of color, and we both left super happy.
We figured out when, where and how. My parents, who are big IKEA fans themselves, graciously offered to take us in their pickup truck. They even insisted on going to the larger New Haven location (an hour and a half away) rather than the closer Stoughton, MA store. We went on a weekday after 3pm and luckily there were very few people in the store, helping ease any potential stress.
Have a budget
I’m lucky enough to have received some money from my father as a Christmas present this year, so my goal was to spend no more than what he gave me. I ended up with $120 left over (which I’ll surely spend on our second IKEA visit).
Utilize the Shopping List
IKEA graciously offers this tool, which I found much more convenient than the typical shopping cart option. It allows you to check in-store availability beforehand, and gave me a total for all my items, too. It was super handy, and helped me keep my spending in check. There were a ton of things that I wanted, of course, so I added each and every thing to the Shopping List, and slowly narrowed it down to necessities and a few cute decor items that I couldn’t resist. Once I made it into the store, I checked my list and made sure to find everything on there. Not all of the pieces ended up in my cart (a pair of curtains there didn’t live up to the online-hype and we weren’t 100% sure we would need cutlery or dinner plates) but I was so glad to be fully prepared. One of our main concerns had been that I would get overzealous and spend a bunch (it’s happened many times before), but this helped keep me aware.
Discuss, but don’t overwhelm
Knowing this was my boyfriend’s first time in IKEA, I was prepared for him to be overwhelmed by all of the options and my need for his opinion on things. We had talked about it a lot before, but weren’t quite sure how things wouldn’t shake out IRL. In the store, there ended up being no need for concern. While there was a lot of discussion, it was all light and agreeable. We didn’t push each other in any certain direction, since we already knew each others’ limits. We knew our needs, accepted each other’s wants and left it at that. There’s no need to beat a dead horse.
Remember why you’re there in the first place
You and your partner came to IKEA for a reason. In most cases, it’s to build a future together; to build a home and some reasonably-priced Swedish furniture. The end goal is to spend the rest of your life together in a beautiful home of your own. Don’t let these minor things tear you apart, especially not in the middle of the lighting section of a giant furniture store. Be understanding. If it does feel overwhelming and pressured, step away and take a breath. If you’ve gotten to this point, you most likely know that your partner doesn’t have ill intentions. Trust each other.
I hope these tips help you and yours when you make that first IKEA trip, and let me know how your adventures go! Good luck, friends!