Sharing a Bed Fucking Sucks

Alison Stevenson
Aug 6 · 5 min read

It was one of the main things I looked forward to when I fantasized about being in a committed relationship: regularly sharing a bed. I pictured myself falling asleep with someone by my side. I saw us embracing one another until the sun came up. Then I’d picture us sleeping in the next morning and eating breakfast in bed together. As much as I enjoyed stretching out on my bed alone, I often craved some sort of warmth beside me. I’d cuddle my pillows and my blanket like it was a stand-in human. I would wake up in the middle of the night and wish someone could be there to ask me if I was okay. All the cute shit I saw in movies, basically. That’s what I wanted, and knew I was missing out on. The bliss of bed-sharing seemed perpetual.

Now, fast forward being one year into my new relationship. Everything I thought I knew about consistently sharing a bed was completely wrong. To put it in the nicest words I can, it fucking sucks. I am mad at every single television show, movie, story, and image that tricked me into thinking this would be anything other than misery.

Today, I long for the kind of sleep I had when I was single. What is it about men that makes them toss and turn so much in their sleep? Fellas, are you dreaming of living inside a tornado? And why did no one tell me of the blanket tug-of-war that happens nearly every night, too? I hate playing games in my sleep, especially ones that demand arm strength.

The worst part of it all is that I can’t fall asleep the way I normally do. My routine has had to completely change. I will admit, my sleep routine isn’t very healthy, but it’s a habit I find extremely hard to break. Ever since I was a child, I’ve had to fall asleep with the television on. Believe me, I know how bad this is so don’t give me the long speeches on how I’m ruining my deep sleep. I am aware. But, it’s the only way I can comfortably close my eyes. I need external noise — something that’s more than recorded sounds of the ocean or a bird chirping in a rainforest. It has to be television specific noise, or else I am unable to properly close my eyes and rest. Rather, I am left alone with my thoughts, which usually involve imagining all the ways I might die or reliving moments of my life I wish had gone differently. These thoughts go on for too long, and it’s just better for everyone if I get to hear reruns of Frasier instead.

My boyfriend, however, does not understand this. He has the audacity to have normal sleeping behavior, and can somehow be left alone with his thoughts. He is some sort of well-adjusted freak. I hate it.

So, we try to make compromises. I sleep with headphones in, while something plays on my phone. But, it’s uncomfortable. I sometimes get my way and leave the television on, but then he needs a sleep mask and earplugs. Uncomfortable for him. We both make sacrifices for one another in many small ways. I give up needing the entire blanket. He gives up needing a firmer mattress. We are constantly compromising in order to sleep next to each other, and I have come to realize that this is the reality of bed-sharing. Yes, sure, the cute cuddly stuff happens too occasionally, but it’s mostly this. Hell.

It has gotten to a point where I now think of the sleeping arrangement I had back when I shared a room in a dorm with fondness. My roommate slept in a twin bed on the opposite side of the room. We could talk for hours and enjoy one another’s company, but still had the comfort of sleeping exactly how we wanted to in our own separate mattresses. The perfect arrangement, really. If I could afford another bed right now, I’d do it. Seriously. My boyfriend and I could fuck, chill, cuddle, etc. on the primary bed and when it’s time to actually go to sleep, one of us could hop on over to the second bed and get right to doing just that. These are the new bed-sharing fantasies I have. The kind where we don’t actually have to share a bed.

I don’t know if my experience is similar to other couples. My purpose of putting this out into the world isn’t to figure out whether or not I am alone in finding bed-sharing to be a curse. What I’m really trying to get at is that this is one of my many former relationship-having fantasies destroyed by reality. When I was single, I yearned for a romantic partner who I believed would improve areas of my life I was made to believe were in need of improving. I imagined my relationship life would have to be inherently better because that is what single people are fed on a daily basis. The truth is, your trading your old problems for new ones. Nothing is inherently better or worse about being in a relationship, it’s just different.

That’s not to say I don’t love my boyfriend, or that I don’t find him to be a benefit to me. I wouldn’t be willing to take on these new frustrations if I didn’t want to be with him. However, the fantasy of coupledom I was sold is very clearly a lie, on so many levels, and I wish that single me knew better how good she had it. Even at times when I felt great and fine about being single, I was compelled to believe that having an exclusive romantic partner would still improve my quality of life.

So, yes. I miss my bed feeling big and like my own. I miss falling asleep to various sitcoms and sacrificing my quality of sleep because of it. I miss waking up in a sweat because I have too much blanket, and I especially miss the corners of my sheets not popping out every night because someone likes to do full 360 spins in their sleep. I miss all of these things, but on the other hand, I know that if I was back to having those things again I’d miss having my partner next to me. That’s just how we are, isn’t it? We crave what we don’t have, and in that craving, don’t take the time to appreciate what we do have.

All this is to say that I wish I appreciated my bed more when I was sleeping on it alone. For those of you who take it for granted now, let me tell you this. It’s not better on the other side. It’s just different.

Alison Stevenson

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