Not Sleeping With Your Partner Is Still a Taboo, But It Doesn't Mean Your Relationship's Doomed

In Depth

Sleeping next to someone is great in theory: you get the benefit of their body heat, cuddles, and someone to throw in front of you if a serial killer comes in the night (we’ve all thought it). In practice, however, it’s a different story. And while not sleeping with the partner you live with may still be seen as strange, more and more people are embracing the practice.

The New York Post profiled several couples that live together but sleep apart and found that some relationships actually do better when partners spend their nights in separate rooms. Rachel Kramer Bussel, for instance, hasn’t slept in the same bed as her partner Drew since they started living together. And that’s not because they’re trying to bring back the era of Lucy and Ricky’s sexually sanitary twin beds—Bussel’s a writer of erotica who says her sex life is great—it’s because they have different needs when it comes to falling and staying asleep:

“We’re totally different when it comes to how we like our surroundings. I thrive when I have piles of books and magazines; he can’t relax in a room full of clutter. He also wakes up early; I work from home and prefer to stay up late and sleep in a bit,” explains Kramer Bussel.
“Before, we were both resentful of each other at night. Now we’re excited to see each other every morning.”

Sounds great, but it’s still not something many people are upfront about, especially when not sleeping together goes against cultural norms. According to Jennifer Adams—author of Sleeping Apart, Not Falling Apart—, however, just sleeping separately doesn’t mean your relationship isn’t great. It’s why you sleep apart that makes the difference.

From a blog post Adams published in October:

In my opinion, the #1 relationship killer of a reason for sleeping separately is that you are trying to escape your partner. Not because of their snoring, or bed tumbling, but because you don’t like them anymore – for whatever reason, and whatever degree of dislike that might be. If you don’t want to share a bed at night because of underlying relationship issues, you might find it difficult to work at keeping the intimacy needed to support heading to separate spaces each night – or even some nights.

Some experts worry that sleeping apart may lead to the deterioration of a relationship, but for people like Kramer Bussel, who says she once accidentally punched Drew when he woke her to say goodbye, it might be worth the risk. And when they do spend time in bed together, Kramer Bussel points out, it’s because they want to be, not because it’s expected of them.

Contact the author at [email protected].

Image via Shutterstock

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