Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Living Spaces

I have a living room again! Huzzah!

It's the simple things you miss, amirite? Since I moved in with The Boyfriend a few months ago, unexpectedly and in something of a rush, the two of us have been somewhat short on space. Over the weekend we finally rearranged the apartment enough that I was able to move my bed out of the living room space and into my very own room!

This is about the time when, as I am explaining this situation to my friends, they generally express shock, concern or disbelief about the fact that my bed was set up in the living room to begin with.

"Heh, like you need your own bed. Wait, you don't sleep in the same room? Why not? Are you guys doing ok? You're acting like a couple of old people who don't like each other anymore, is something wrong?"

During which I, having heard this a dozen times or so at this point, do my best not to cringe or facepalm too hard.

The Boyfriend and I have an awesome relationship. We also do not sleep in the same bed and have separate rooms...a fact to which I attribute at least some of our success as a couple. So! For the edification and benefit of my dear friends who seem to have gotten their ideas about how a couple ought to behave from romantic comedies and sitcoms, I have compiled a list of reasons you and your significant other should seriously think about giving each other a little more space.

First of all, people sleep differently. Personally, I roll around a bit while sleeping and like to have my cats in bed with me. The Boyfriend is allergic to cats and snores sometimes, plus he likes to stretch out while sleeping. Sleeping in the same bed for us is counter-productive to, you know, sleep. Seriously guys, being well-rested is incredibly important to your relationship. If you aren't getting enough sleep you will be crabby, short-tempered and you will have less energy to do fun things. Over time, you may also grow to resent your significant other for always waking you up or stealing the covers when it really isn't their fault. People can't control the way they sleep. So if you have the space, get your own damn bed.

Better yet, get your own room because people have different standards of cleanliness. When two people share the same space, whomever has the higher standard for what is acceptably clean will end up either doing more cleaning or more nagging, and both paths lead to resentment. Let me make it very clear that there is nothing inherently morally or ethically superior about having higher standards of cleanliness, but if you like things clean it stresses you out to be in a space that is dirty. Personally, if my space is a mess my options are either clean it immediately or be very uncomfortable until I do. If you don't care about mess and are sharing a space with someone who does, it still stresses you out to have to do extra work to please someone else's arbitrary standard. Having my own room means I can be exactly as clean as I care to be without enforcing those standards on someone else, and vice versa.

The extra space comes in handy too, because people like different things. I did not lose interest in crafting, costuming, writing or volunteering because I moved in with someone who does not share those interests. I still need someplace where I can shut the door, put on some loud music and make something. If I want to wake up early on Saturday morning to volunteer at the Natural History Museum, I do not want to also wake up The Boyfriend when he really just wants to sleep until noon on his day off. Neither one of our desires or lifestyles trumps the other.

And that's the real point. People in relationships are still individuals. You can love someone while not wanting to deal with their snoring or be a part of all their hobbies. Being a couple does not mean merging into a single unit. The media likes to portray relationships as an endless stream of compromises, where couples argue with each other over chores and feel obligated to participate in things they hate to make someone else happy. Yet they always resolve those differences because they are SO IN LOVE and fall asleep holding each other. FYI, no one likes having their wants and needs deemed 'less important' than someone else's and that is an extremely uncomfortable way to sleep.

I'm not saying that couples should never compromise. It is a relationship, after all. But I am not willing to compromise my ability to sleep or deal with the stress of living in a messy space because it is generally accepted that people who are in love sleep in the same room, and I wouldn't expect The Boyfriend to make that compromise either. We both want space for our things and hobbies that can be decorated and maintained however we like. Because we are individuals, not two halves of a couple.

1 comment:

  1. "People in relationships are still individuals."

    Probably the best bit of relationship advice everybody should take to heart. I learned it the hard way. Don't try to force each other to like or do the same things, just because you're living together doesn't mean you're now one unit that must do everything together!