Contrary to touted relationship insights such as, “couples who sleep in the same bed have more sex,” and the encouragement that sleeping together keeps a couple emotionally closer with one another, much like the idea of living with a romantic partner, we have been taught that there is only one right way in which to handle this situation.
When you “really” love someone and are “truly” committed to them, you eventually shack up. Otherwise, the relationship has stagnated, it isn’t the “real deal,” and people are not fully invested, so the thinking goes.
Similarly, we assume that if a couple decides not to share a bed, there must be something amiss in the relationship.
This is not automatically so though.
And in fact, sleeping separately can add some wonderful aspects to your romantic relationship.
Following a disastrous fall skiing, which resulted in surgery and not being able to put any weight on one leg for two months, there were several nights in a row during which my love and I ended up sleeping apart. Things were quite busy for him at work, so we would spend an hour following dinner together, talking, playing a board game, with me reading to him, or watching a television show together. Then I would go to bed while he went into the other room to do some more work. He then slept in the other bedroom so as not to disturb me by coming in late.
While initially, I was against this arrangement (for the reasons described in the first paragraph), I came to find much benefit to the scenario.
Better Quality Sleep
I slept better. He experienced the same. When sharing a bed, via both people tossing and turning naturally throughout the night, this can result in waking each other up unintentionally. Especially if one of you is a light sleeper.
When sleeping together, we each tend to wake up a couple of times during the night. When sleeping apart though, we both reported waking up once, if at all. Each of us getting far more quality sleeps during these evenings of sleeping apart.
Healthy and Rejuvenating Time to Yourself
I enjoyed the time before bed to wind down, be alone with myself and my own thoughts, and to do as I wished. The time was spent reading, though occasionally thinking or writing. He felt similarly, being able to have that time to himself, on his own for a little while before retiring for the day to bed.
A Sense of Anticipation at Seeing Each Other Again
I didn’t feel any semblance of weakened emotional connection, as some psychologists remark is a risk at sleeping apart. Though this could be for a couple of reasons.
My love and I have an emotionally solid, close relationship already, so it doesn’t seem likely this minor change would threaten or diminish that. And, this is not going to be a routine, permanent shift for us. It is only some of the nights during which my leg is in a cast and thus, a top-notch sleep is needed, which is made easier without another presence in the bed and with greater space for stretching out.
Sleeping separately can create a sense of missing one another, of feeling excited to see each other again in the morning. It’s a brief period apart, following which you feel excited to see their face the following morning. A nice little brief spurt of breathing space, which can serve at a renewal of sorts, lending toward anticipation to be in their company again the next day.
Much like a couple living together is considered a necessary step in every single relationship (and, if it doesn’t happen, the couple is seen as strange, non-committal, and not fully in love), sleeping in the same bed is also regarded as the only way it’s done, at least in “happy” relationships.
The truth, though, is that sharing a bed doesn’t have as much to do with this as we think. Plenty of miserable, estranged, not particularly close or happy couples share beds all the time. Thus, much like living together is not a real signifier of commitment or depth of love, neither is sleeping in the same bed.
A relationship should be navigated in a way that feels most right for you. Not because of dictations made by society about what is “normal”, are touted as the “way everyone else does it”, and because we are told it’s what is the “right” way to do things.
There is technically no “right” way to have a relationship. Human construct is what has created those ideas. Without our human-constructed ideas of what makes relationships normal or not, in reality, there are not any right or wrong ways to have a relationship.
Dare to buck tradition and do what is right for you and your love. Whether that means sleeping apart or together, and whether it means living together or apart. Your relationship with flourish and thank you for it.
(My article: The Case For Not Living With Your Romantic Partner, Ever).