*** One of the hardest things to establish in long term relationships (LTRs) is balance between me-time & we-time. In order to cultivate healthy and successful LTRs this is one of the first fundamental tasks we learn to negotiate. If we do it well from the start then the right course is set. The following is my inside look at how intentional time apart can help you sustain an energetic balance of alone time and together time ***
So, my boyfriend actually likes to sleep alone. Sound weird? Well, at first it may have been awkward and suspicious for me, but as I accepted it as ‘just his thing’ – yes he had to do some reassuring – it’s amazing what started to develop.
I immediately noticed the healthy personal space this time apart created; it became a very well balanced division between his life and mine. I actually can’t remember a monogamous relationship where I’ve NOT co-slept with my partner. I mean, ever since I was a teenager I’ve always sort of morphed into a unit pretty quickly!
But after I was able to talk through my initial insecurities with my current partner and implement some self soothing techniques aimed at calming the compulsions of my conditioned “expectations,” I realized that I actually enjoyed maintaining my own space.
Now, if my partner wasn’t extremely affectionate, loving, and generous with me I probably would be missing the oxytocin that comes with bedtime cuddling; for the first time I actually appreciate the reset I have with myself at night and again when starting the day afresh and alone, as it allows me to be my own POINT OF ORIGIN. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate the exception when I get to sleep over, but I no longer expect it in a monogamous relationship. NOT sleeping over actually makes the days and evenings even better together – for now at least – I mean it is still the beginning.
For the first time I really feel that I have BALANCE – prioritizing time with him to get all our intimacy needs met (there’s more than just one type guys: read up on the 8 intimacies), AND ‘me time’ for beach walks, fitness activities, time with my girlfriends, general laziness, journaling, facemasks, grooming, binging on my shows and movies, being productive on my self development goals, etc… Not that I can’t do some of these things with him, but it’s not good to continuously dilute the quality of our time together when we could simply use the opportunity to venture solo and meet our individual needs more intentionally. One of my favorites: go find a hammock spot and meditate for an hour!
The importance of self discipline is key here. Self development challenges us to attend to our insecurities and triggers, many of which are masked by constant interaction with others who help us avoid our fear of emptiness and loneliness; or otherwise our fear of intimacy and self exposure motivates us to busy ourselves with superficial actions so as to avoid or suppress our true nature. It’s prescribed chaos really, noise that fills and distracts the real matters of the heart – growing into our best selves – because our best selves find equanimity in our aloneness and synergy in togetherness.
Getting back to my own experience: In order to successfully endure the intital discomfort this involuntary separation caused, it was essential to emotionally mature beyond fearing and avoiding loneliness. Thankfully, the last two years I was single helped me to develop a healthy relationship with SOLITUDE. Without it my WANTS far outweighed my NEEDS as I latched on to the hope of establishing a relationship with EVERY love interest.
It is with this healthy relationship with solitude that we discover what we NEED to be HAPPY. Believe it or not, we have all of the ingedients to fulfill the recipe for happiness ALONE. But…
ROMANTIC LOVE is the icing on top of the cake of happiness as long as it’s a healthy and compatible PAIR-BOND. However, if you don’t make the most of your time alone, maintain that breathing room, and sustain the individuality you bring to the relationship dynamics – then you aren’t facilitating a healthy and secure foundation for an interconnected and happy system.
So, go ahead – SLEEP ALONE even when you’re monogamous. You’re first commitment is to your own comfort, well being, and success. What better way to protect those goals than to honor that time apart.
It’s not all about maintaining freedom and independence, though. In order to establish healthy qualities in your relationships you’re going to have to look at gender roles and sexual dynamics. Look out for upcoming posts exploring these elements.