The other day I spied an unusual configuration on my way to the bathroom at a friend’s place. There were two bedrooms, both in a concurrent state of use, despite the apartment being shared by a committed monogamous couple who like each other very much.
Do you feel that? It’s the shift in our collective consciousness. Having escaped the shackles of whatever mid-century standards that made TV producers put Lucy and Ricky in neighboring twin beds, shacking up before marriage got so normal people stopped thinking about it. TV now leads the way in eviscerating any morality about “taking it slow” or “having boundaries” and that’s great. But it makes a couple’s probable desire to be a little bit apart seem like an extreme rather than a completely reasonable way to share a home with someone. It’s not that it’s unheard of for people in cohabitational relationships to have separate bedrooms, but when you do hear about it, it’s usually a bad thing.
Maybe this arrangement makes more sense for those living in a city, where any cube of space to call your own is at a premium. People often move in together to save money, but going from having your own room to sharing one with a partner is a net loss in my book.
There’s a more straightforward case for having your own bed — sleep. Sleep is often conflated with sex because they both happen in a bed. But many are loath to admit that permanently sharing a bed breeds disharmony. Relationships are not about sleep, and sharing a bed can get in the way of you getting yours (sleep) because of someone’s snoring or restlessness or the inability to share a blanket.
As a chronic insomniac, there is no experience I cherish less than toiling through hours of pre-sunrise angst in silence while a man rests peacefully beside me, unaware when I could be watching TV or drinking tea or smoking weed. I also work from home, which actually means working from bed, and sharing a hybrid office with someone would be really unprofessional of me.
Before this sounds like a frigid diatribe, I’d argue that separate bedrooms make sex more intentional and consensual and even fun. There’s no reason you can’t still sleep together, but when you have your own room, there’s a completely neutral option of not doing so as well. Having options is freedom.
When I contemplate sharing a bedroom with someone for a lifetime, or even just a long time, it feels like a handed-down expectation from someone who spent their life in an existential prison and wants me to do the same. There are lots of wonderful things about living with the person you love, but it only works as long as you stay sane in the process.
Having separate bedrooms before it becomes a painful necessity is not a statement on how you feel about your partner but the respect you have for yourself. Yes, there is a housing crisis and fools in love are eager to nest despite all warnings, so this will probably fall on deaf ears. Even though we can’t all live in separate homes connected by tunnels like Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton did, a girl can dream.