noncohabitation

I am in love: truly, madly, deeply.

We’re inching up on two years together.

And the question that I am most often asked – primarily by other women – often single women is,

“Are you going to move in together?”

The question doesn’t really surprise me but the reaction to my “No” response does.

“Why not?????”

“But you guys are so good together…

Don’t you want to take it to the next step?…

Don’t you want to create a life together?”

And the best: “He doesn’t want to? Is that okay with you?”

Let me address your concerns:

We are so good together because we don’t live together.

The next step, in my experience of cohabitating, would likely be a breakup. So no, I don’t want to take it to the next step.

We are creating a life together. That life doesn’t have to include bickering about how to put the toilet paper on the roll.

But doesn’t he want to? Well, frankly, no. But since when is it entirely up to him? And why would the assumption be that I am dying to live with him and I just wish he’d let me?

Which leads me to three things:

Questioning our society because the consensus seems to be that as a woman, I would naturally want to live with him, not alone. And that if I do live alone, it’s because my man made an executive decision that this lonely heart has to go along with, like it or not.

Questioning my reasoning for not wanting to live with him, or anyone else for that matter. Am I being a puss? Am I avoiding real depth in our relationship? Am I turning into a shrewish crazy cat lady (without the cats) who will spend her final days alone with her weird little dog?

Questioning why so many women (but, certainly not all) that I know feel that a relationship isn’t a success unless it looks more like a traditional marriage?

Here’s what I say to all of that…

I like being alone. It has taken years of struggle, pain, introspection, and “experience” to get to the point of truly relishing my own life, my own space, my independence.

I don’t want to fuck that up.

As it stands, I think this man is perfect. If I started finding his little beard hairs all over my toothbrush, I might not think so highly of him.

I don’t want to fuck that up either.

When we see each other, it’s always a date. We stop everything else and choose to be present with each other. No work, no housekeeping, no wandering into the other room to get some space.

We have sex every time we get together. Not spending every single night together, not scrubbing the toilet free of the other person’s morning eliminations, not staying up late working or watching television, not getting into a rut – not having these issues keeps us from getting into the habit of falling asleep with our backs to each other.

Certainly don’t want to fuck that up.

There are times when I want to skip the shower, let my armpit hairs erupt, eat cereal for dinner, smoke pot and veg, watch Bewitched at midnight, work at 2 am, and snore freely. And I want to do those things completely uninhibited.

I certainly don’t want interference. Or or a witness.

I’m haphazard in my interior design style. He’s tidy. I have plastic beaded curtains while he has original artwork.

‘Nough said.

We each pay our own rent. We pay our own bills. We clean our own toilets, do our own laundry, buy our own groceries, have our own routines.

We have routines and rituals together, but I have some of my own that I am not willing to give up that wouldn’t be as fulfilling if done in company.

Like painting my nails.

Writing.

Reading late into the night.

Watching Bridget Jones 223 times.

Girls nights.

Eating cookies in bed.

Rearranging the furniture.

Letting Elvis snuggle in my bed first thing in the morning.

And who wants to fight about closet space?

Am I avoiding reality? Avoiding really putting in the work to deepen our relationship? Avoiding conflict (without which there would be no growth)?

Nah. We’ve had plenty of challenges, tests, trials. Real things too – surgery, loss, children, moving, overwhelm. We’ve sailed through those things. We’ve got each other’s backs. We have been forced to communicate about awkward issues. We have been tested.

Sharing an underwear drawer is not the only way to grow.

I have a friend who is beautiful – stunning really – and smart and funny and just lovely. Divorced. Single mom. She wants so badly to have a partner in life. To her, a piece of that partnership is cohabitating.

She wants it so badly that she is willing to over-compromise, to look away from red flags, to try to force compatibility, to have her vision come to fruition.

She’s so amazing that it hurts me to watch.

I am so amazing that it would hurt me to over-compromise.

I might sound like I think that I am right on, that I think my way is the best, or only way.

I don’t.

I might even sound a bit cynical and disillusioned.

I am.

I used to listen to middle-aged women talk about independence and think, “She’s just trying to comfort herself in the face of failed reltionships and singlehood.”

Now I understand that it is through failed relationships and hardship and forced independence that many of these women have developed the strength and self-awareness to have reached the conclusion that no, they don’t want to give up that freedom.

I admire these women.

24/7 togetherness does not a successful relationship make.

Not necessarily.

Not for me.

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