I live next door to my boyfriend. We have been together for more than 20 years. It was the typical story of boy meets girl; they fall madly in love, and then real-life steps in, and financial, health, and other issues destroy the relationship. We broke up for eight years and then slowly worked our way back to each other but with some significant differences. What I learned from our story was invaluable, and I am writing a book about our experience to help others. I want to share the keys to a healthy relationship, and one of the most critical is space in your relationship.
We Aren’t Meant to Be Joined at the Hip
Covid taught us a lot of hard lessons. One of the most eye-opening was that too much togetherness destroys otherwise healthy relationships. Being forced to work at home and be around your loved one 24/7 was hard. Let’s face it; constantly being around the same person can be very irritating. Everyone has their own annoying habits, and when you live together, neither of you can escape them.
We are all individuals, and even close couples need space. We tend to forget that when we are in a relationship, we still need alone time, privacy, and rooms that are just ours to spread out and be ourselves.
I like to play video games on my phone, and I don’t want anyone to judge me for it. I also like it really quiet. Glenn plays music all the time. We are just different people who want to live differently. That is okay. We also love each other deeply and are very connected. We text and talk on the phone and see each other as often as we like, but at the end of the day, we have our own safe spaces to return to.
Being in a relationship where you live with your partner means you are forced to be in compromise mode all the time. That is not healthy. Choosing to compromise is okay, but one of you will always be unsatisfied. For example, I like things much warmer than Glenn. He likes it cold. In the summer, he keeps his AC on constantly, and it’s freezing over there. If we lived together, one of us would have to be physically uncomfortable due to our personal preferences. That discomfort would wear on the relationship. Resentment would set in and come out in small ways.
The Living Separately Trend
I speak to many women from ages 35 up to 80+, and the older they get, the more they feel the need for personal space. When we are young, it’s easier to handle more compromise, and maybe we don’t even really know ourselves yet. As we age, we become more firmly rooted in who we are, what we like, and how we want to live. Plus, we are less tolerant of discomfort and don’t want to compromise.
I am at an age where I have finally learned how to prioritize self-care and my own needs. When my daughter was little, I couldn’t do that. But now I can, and I know how important it is for me to live the way I need to be okay. One way is that I live apart from the love of my life.
Some couples have decided to set up different areas of their homes for each person, and some even sleep in separate bedrooms. They are not doing this because their relationship is on the rocks; they are doing it to care for themselves and be better together.
How Living Next Door Makes Our Relationship Better
Glenn and I used to have many issues. Most days, there was tension between us, and we would argue about stupid things. We spent years working on ourselves to be better people, which improved our relationship. During our time apart, we grew to be best friends. One way we keep our relationship healthy is to live next door and retain that same separation from when we were friends but with a renewed closeness.
We live right next door (we own adjoining condos) and can be at each other’s front door with ten steps. So, in an emergency, we are close by.
However, we both like to eat different foods at different times of the day. If we lived together, scheduling meals and making things we both enjoyed would be tough.
We go to sleep at different times. He is usually in bed early, and I stay up later. He also gets up often in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. I would get zero sleep if we lived together.
The best part about living next door is that it takes so many of the usual argument topics off the table. We rarely ever get into a fuss anymore. We spend quality time together, and then I come home, put on my comfy clothes, eat the foods I like, and watch what I want on TV. It’s the best of both worlds.
Nothing is out of place; if my house gets messy, it’s because of me, not someone else.
Do Yourself a Favor Prioritize Space in Your Relationship
I cannot tell you how many times a day I am reminded why this is a great setup for us both. I like my privacy. Glenn knows he must text me before coming over because I often meditate and don’t want to be disturbed. It’s about respect and healthy boundaries, which would be harder to enforce if we lived in the same home.
The benefits of space in your relationship are immeasurable. Living separately is even better. So, think it over if you are on the fence about moving in together. You might want to retain your freedom and independence a little longer. Or you could set up areas of the house where you can both retreat and have some alone time to recharge. We all need that.
The happier, more rested, and content you are, the better you will be in your relationship. Trust me, I am living the dream.