Live Together, Sleep Together?

Do we need to sleep together in the same bed to have a good relationship?

The idea of Separate But Together is one of my most beloved relationship concepts, yet the one that often feels the furthest from being a reality. The cultural idea of relationships doesn’t leave much room (literally) for the idea that two people can love each and be together but not live together, sleep together, or often not even be able to be in the same home together without totally being in the same space all the time. NO. THANK. YOU. (I know, I know, not all people, not all relationships… but there is a cultural ideal here, and that is what I am speaking about.)

The other day I interacted with a Tweet that really spoke to me—said the thing that I’ve been saying for a long time (all the way down to the ground floor and the walkable city!) Of course, I had to add to the ideal situation that my BFF was right there with me, along for the ride.



Then this morning, I read an article in the NYT – I love you, but I Don’t Want to Sleep Wth You. It again brought up the idea that not every long-term committed romantic cohabitating relationship involves sleeping in the same bed full time. Not even the same bedroom is required. The article talks about the rise in separate-bedroom partnerships. It’s becoming more and more common. Many decorators and construction people have noted the trend as couples seek to make two sleeping spaces feel as important as the main bedroom.

One construction manager mentioned he has had multiple requests for two bedrooms (each with its own bath, of course!) joined in the middle by a den or small living space. This allows the couple to hang out in an intimate shared space but then easily choose their space at the end of the evening. (Together? or Separate?)  I mean, if I were EVER to decide to live with someone again and I had the means to do it? This would be ideal (as long as BFF was nearby, of course.) Clearly, this ideal bedroom situation would require an ideal financial situation, but a girl can dream, can’t she?


The problem I have with this now is two-fold. (maybe more, I mean, it’s so layered.) In the quote from the article above… the last line? I almost yelled out loud… “DOES IT REALLY MEAN THAT? I mean, does it?” The quote is from Dr. Cheryl Fraser, a clinical psychologist, sex therapist, and the author of “Buddha’s Bedroom.”  She obviously has opinions about sleep and bedrooms. (No, I have not read any of her work.) When I read that line of the quote, I thought that some of these professionals need to update their thinking! I think the same about counselors who assume polyamory is a type of commitment avoidance, or my OBGYN who wonders if I am still having sex at 50, or the urologist who tells me I can use coconut oil for vaginal dryness but doesn’t tell me that the oil will degrade latex condoms. Their notions are becoming outdated, and their education is not keeping up.

Get with the program, people! Who knows, maybe I see the world now through such a changed lens that it’s frustrating when other people (often older- like me) can’t see it. Maybe you will marry for love. Maybe you will move in with someone for love. But I don’t think the connection between love and sleeping in the same bed is as direct a line as she seems to think. The article also implies that this is a bigger trend than ever before and seems to be happening even more frequently since the pandemic. THAT I understand as I was living with someone during the pandemic, sleep became a real issue between us (along with many other things), and we ended up in separate bedrooms more often than not.


The thought process connecting love to sleeping in the same bed completely ignores other ways of living and loving. Take polyamory, for example. (Of course- I am a polyamorous blogger- it has to relate there!) When I asked Laura Boyle (@ReadyforPolyamory – Twitter), a non-monogamy and polyamory advocate and educator, if I could use her tweet, we briefly interacted. She told me that the reason she wanted this “‘niche request’ for a dating app” is because, for her, “nonhierarchical polyamory is non-negotiable, which is probably not everyone’s [relationship style], but it’s certainly trending.”  If you’re new to polyamory, hierarchy is a hotly debated concept in non-monogamy.

In the hierarchical polyamorous relationship configuration, people tend to prioritize one or more partners (designated as primary) over others (often designated secondary or tertiary). This predetermined arrangement between a couple explicitly shapes the nature of their other intimate involvements. (Springerlink – Sharon M. FlickerFlavia Sancier-BarbosaAmy C. MoorsLindsay Browne)

If you have non-hierarchical relationships and do not place more value on one primary relationship over the others, you wouldn’t necessarily sleep in the same room with one single partner and leave the others out. Ideally, everyone would have their own space and share beds as they saw fit.


I have the same issue as a person who prefers an egalitarian style of polyamory and one who is strongly solo-poly.

Relationship Escalator. The default set of societal expectations for intimate relationships. Partners follow a progressive set of steps, each with visible markers, toward a clear goal. … The Relationship Escalator is what most people grow up believing (or more accurately, assuming) that intimate relationships “should” look like, how they are “supposed” to work — and indeed, what any emotionally healthy adult “should” want.” – Amy Gahran

As a person who doesn’t need my relationships to “become” anything specific, I do not need (actually, I don’t really want) to live with anyone and will never get married again. I enjoy my own home and my own company. So the idea from the article that we marry for love and then want to sleep together in the same bed… makes me feel like she’s not leaving room for people who may love deeply and be completely committed to each other but never live together or share a bed regularly.  In my ideal world, I will have multiple, long-term, committed, romantic love relationships in parallel to each other, with none of them living with me.

However, (I believe one should never say never) the only way I could be persuaded to live with someone was if I had my own space. At a minimum, that would require my own bedroom (preferably an office/den, as well) to maintain my autonomy to the degree I am most comfortable with. But wanting this (requiring it really) doesn’t mean I am not totally in love and committed to my partner. This love doesn’t require me to get married and sleep together in the same bed. It just requires that my partner and I communicate and build the best relationship for us, and preferably what works best is not to cohabitate or sleep in the same bed every night. 🙂


But what about people who are not polyamorous and nonhierarchical? The article is actually about monogamous couples. The writer makes it clear that sleeping in separate rooms is more common than ever. The reasons people sleep alone range from snoring, different sleep schedules, and different sleep routines to light sleeping or simply needing more personal space. It seems to me that, more and more, everyone is challenging cultural relationship norms. More monogamous people are looking at their relationships and asking themselves, “Do we really need to do it this way?” I think that is wonderful for everyone.

I am not one of those polyam people who believe polyamory is the more enlightened way, nor do I look down on monogamy as a relationship option. I think monogamy works for many people, and hey, do love the way you do love. I do wish more people looked at their monogamy with intention and didn’t simply fall into what “everyone does.” But I think that is happening. This article is one example of ways people are creating different ways of doing relationships.

Most of the comments on the post were in favor of not sleeping together in the same bed. Thankfully the ones who were opposed approached it from the love of their partner, not with the view that sleeping in separate bedrooms was evil and irresponsible. It was lovely to read how many people are taking their relationships and doing what works best for them. That’s the real ideal!


From the sheer number of internal links in this post, you can conclude that together but separate, my autonomy and sleep issues are ideas that keep me writing and keep this blog going. I could go on and on. I could also tell you all the reasons, from normal to terrible experiences in my life, why living with someone, or more specifically sleeping together in the same bed full time, is so not for me. But that is a post for another time.

In the meantime- I love an article like this that not only shows a different way to do relationships but also makes you think about different ways to do relationships. (LOL) This article had me talking to friends about it and motivated me to write today. All of that is a good thing.


Do you aspire to sleep separately? Do you have strong feelings about sleeping together? I’d love to hear it!

One Reply to “Live Together, Sleep Together?”

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