I originally published this post on iEatGrass.com.
Yesterday afternoon I set off to yoga class. As I drove my new stylish ride, a hulking white minivan, down the coastline toward the studio, something felt weird. I felt like I was missing something. And then I realized it was the first time in nearly a month that I have visited any place that didn’t include a toilet without my boyfriend.
Twenty two days deep into our new cohabitation setup, my guy and I have been working, eating, playing and sleeping in a 700 square foot studio space on stilts. When we run errands, we run them together. When we visit friends, we go together. Until yesterday, we’ve been running and doing yoga together, too. Together together together.
Once I realized I had the next two hours to myself, I did a little happy dance inside. Not that I don’t like being around my guy; obviously I do. I have spent the last 528 hours within 10 feet of him, and you have to like someone a real lot to pull that off without accosting them with a rack of bananas. (Seriously guys, those racks are like 50 pounds.)
While we have been playing nice all month long, I know our relationship will be seriously strained if we don’t get more alone time on the reg. I think the relationships that do best are between people who know how to say “leave me the f*ck alone for a little while, and then I’ll make you chickpea cutlets,” or more eloquently, “I love you, but please get out of me.”
I’ve been in those relationships where you’re up each other’s asses all the time. For a few very special couples, this can work just fine. Wedding bells and gaggles of grand children abound.
But for the rest of us, one of two things can happen:
The first is you burn out. It may begin as bickering. Then, the little things start driving you mad; you’re rolling your eyes behind their backs when they tell you how many reps they did at the gym that day. Pretty soon, you feel like you’re going to implode from rage if you have to watch them crunch crunch crunch their morning granola for one more f*cking second. You end up so annoyed with one another, you may say things you don’t mean (or mean things you don’t say) and the relationship is headed downhill.
The other option is that you lose sight of yourself. Perhaps you enjoy all the together-time, and it never gets old. A night on the couch with your partner, some medicinal marijuana and your Netflix instant Queue is a dreamy evening – even if you repeat the dream 7 nights a week.
However, you create such an identity with one another that you literally have no idea what to do with yourself when you’re apart. That’s super cute and the Notebook-y, but it really isn’t healthy for your own individual development.
Some ways to avoid this is to make “me dates.” Every monday (or whenever) evening, you have the place to yourself. Your partner heads to a friend’s, the coffee shop, the movies, wherever. Or maybe you head out and leave them behind. Or maybe you alternate! My boyfriend and I have made some new friends here, and all of them weirdly enough are couples, so we all hang out as couples. It’s good to be social, but we’re still being social together, and this doesn’t fill our “alone time” quota.
Another option is to get into hobbies that don’t include one another. You may even want to specify that it’s something you’re trying to do solo. In an old relationship, my yoga nights were my solace. Until my partner wanted to get into yoga, too. It would have been selfish of me to deny him the right to bend and flex, no? So I brought him along with me, but the more enthusiastic he became about his practice, the more robbed I felt.
If you’re uncomfy telling your partner your new hobby is something you want to do alone, then just pick something they would NEVER get into…like a roller derby team or a knitting circle. Just don’t pull a Paul Rudd a la Knocked Up and pretend you’re working when you’re really going to fantasy baseball or to see Spiderman 2. Be honest with your need for solo time.
My guy and I have been half-joking about suggesting couple swaps, where I go hang with one half of a couple while their significant other comes to my place to play ping pong and drink beer with my guy, bromance style.
I’m worried if we suggest this, our new friends will think we’re swingers. Or maybe they’ll be down for the swingage! I do live in a very open minded community. Things just got a bit more interesting…
So how do you work your alone time into your relationship? Anyone else out there working from home along with their partners? How do you avoid accosting them with the bounty from fruit trees?