Moving in: Sleeping Together (or Apart)

A few years back I did a write up on all the various ways I knew of for polyfolk to arrange their bedrooms. At some point, I need to go back and expand it a bit to include sleeping arrangements for solo polies, but aside from that it is still a fairly comprehensive list.

If you’ve been dating a while, you probably have routines for overnight visits. These routines may translate well to living together or they may not. Maybe Erin is fine sharing a bed a few nights a month when Dave comes over, but usually prefers to sleep alone. Maybe Ian can take the couch once a week so Vivian and Carl can share a bed, but he’s not going to be willing to sleep on the couch every night–which means the three of them need to work out sleeping arrangements that will work every night, not just once in a while.

Beds: The one place where three sometimes is a crowd.

I suggest using that old blog about polyamory sleeping arrangements as a jumping off point for ideas about what your options are and what will work for you and your partners. Things to look at include how (and with whom) everyone prefers to sleep, how many bedrooms you have available, and how big your beds are.Beds sharing can be a huge jealousy trigger. If Ian and Carl both want to sleep with Vivian, but either don’t have a big enough bed or don’t want to all sleep together, than “who Vivian sleeps with” can become an even bigger issue that “who Vivian has sex with.” After all, everyone has different sex drives, and if Carl is only interested in sex once a week, he probably won’t be bothered by Vivian and Ian having sex twice a week—as long as he and Vivian still have sex once a week. But almost everyone sleeps every night. Carl is used to Vivian sleeping with him most nights, which may leave Ian feeling left out. If Vivian begins splitting her sleep schedule evenly between her partners, Carl will lose a great deal of his regular time with her. Which might cause him to feel abandoned or not cared for. This kind of thing will play out differently in every relationship. The dynamics will be different in quad than a triad, different when everyone can sleep together, or different when one or more people simply prefer to sleep alone. My first, big, suggestion is to simply talk about it before you move in together. Don’t assume that what had worked for visits will work for every night. Be prepared to be flexible. The first way you try to handle sleeping arrangements doesn’t have to be the only way. If it isn’t working, be prepared to try something else. Remember that sleeping together is a type of being together, but it does not equal spending time together. The emotional needs that are met by you and your partner(s) get some sleeping together are not the same as the emotional needs that are met by you and your partner spending time together while awake. You probably can’t trade a night spent sleeping together for another date night.

8 thoughts on “Moving in: Sleeping Together (or Apart)

  1. When I met my first partner back in 2001 we slept together when we could but due to different schedules we weren’t always able to. Sex was difficult due to health and weight issues but we had a decent sex life. Fast forward to 2007 and we had been having issues for awhile. Things came to a head and our marriage almost fractured. I was unfaithful to him. We began sleeping apart-he on the couch (his preferred spot) and me in bed.

    In 2009 we’d started working things out and met our current anchor partner. When he moved in with us he and my partner began sharing a bed. I slept in my own bed (a medical bed due to the lymphedema in my legs). While our relationship isn’t perfect it’s a lot better than it used to be but we three don’t sleep together. I have my medical bed they have the bed in the family room of our one bedroom apartment.

    We care about each other a lot but at the same time we haven’t been intimate in a very long time-at least me with either of them. I know they have and I’m glad they have but there are times when I worry that I’ve become more of a live-in friend in terms of intimacy. We’re open as far as RP-partners go. They have close friends they rp with and I have a close friend I write stories with/rp with. This is the only ‘sex’ I have if you can really call it that and to be honest some times I think I prefer it. I’m overweight and sex has always been difficult for me.

    I love them very much but I often wonder if my BPD might be having an impact on me as far as me being OK with our current sleeping arrangements.

    1. It sounds like you may have two or three different things going on.

      Sleeping arrangements–I recently came across a discussion where someone said that all of his poly partners slept apart routinely and he only slept with any of them on special occasions. He advocated for everyone to sleep alone because he thought it was healthier/led to better sleep. Obviously not a cuddler 😉
      If sleeping alone works for you, it doesn’t really matter if its related to the BPD or not. What matters is it works for you, and doesn’t harm you or anyone else. Don’t stress yourself about it.

      Sex/intimacy: If you haven’t had any sex for a while and prefer it that way, you may be asexual. Asexuality can occur temporarily due to various influences or may simply be an orientation. A lot of asexual people feel comfortable in poly relationships because they can enjoy a romantic relationship with their partners without feeling pressured to meet someone else’s sexual needs.
      You may want to look into some of the asexuality forums and websites and see if what you find seems to fit you and your experiences.

      Poly partner vs. live-in friend: If you are worried that your partners see you as more as a live-in friend than a poly partner/lover/family, the best thing to do is talk with them about it. Sex is only one form of intimacy, and if sex doesn’t work and the three of you want to maintain a romantic/committed/poly relationship, than maybe you can discuss other types of intimacy you can share together so you aren’t feeling on the outside.

  2. When I met my first partner back in 2001 we slept together when we could but due to different schedules we weren’t always able to. Sex was difficult due to health and weight issues but we had a decent sex life. Fast forward to 2007 and we had been having issues for awhile. Things came to a head and our marriage almost fractured. I was unfaithful to him. We began sleeping apart-he on the couch (his preferred spot) and me in bed.

    In 2009 we’d started working things out and met our current anchor partner. When he moved in with us he and my partner began sharing a bed. I slept in my own bed (a medical bed due to the lymphedema in my legs). While our relationship isn’t perfect it’s a lot better than it used to be but we three don’t sleep together. I have my medical bed they have the bed in the family room of our one bedroom apartment.

    We care about each other a lot but at the same time we haven’t been intimate in a very long time-at least me with either of them. I know they have and I’m glad they have but there are times when I worry that I’ve become more of a live-in friend in terms of intimacy. We’re open as far as RP-partners go. They have close friends they rp with and I have a close friend I write stories with/rp with. This is the only ‘sex’ I have if you can really call it that and to be honest some times I think I prefer it. I’m overweight and sex has always been difficult for me.

    I love them very much but I often wonder if my BPD might be having an impact on me as far as me being OK with our current sleeping arrangements.

    1. It sounds like you may have two or three different things going on.

      Sleeping arrangements–I recently came across a discussion where someone said that all of his poly partners slept apart routinely and he only slept with any of them on special occasions. He advocated for everyone to sleep alone because he thought it was healthier/led to better sleep. Obviously not a cuddler 😉
      If sleeping alone works for you, it doesn’t really matter if its related to the BPD or not. What matters is it works for you, and doesn’t harm you or anyone else. Don’t stress yourself about it.

      Sex/intimacy: If you haven’t had any sex for a while and prefer it that way, you may be asexual. Asexuality can occur temporarily due to various influences or may simply be an orientation. A lot of asexual people feel comfortable in poly relationships because they can enjoy a romantic relationship with their partners without feeling pressured to meet someone else’s sexual needs.
      You may want to look into some of the asexuality forums and websites and see if what you find seems to fit you and your experiences.

      Poly partner vs. live-in friend: If you are worried that your partners see you as more as a live-in friend than a poly partner/lover/family, the best thing to do is talk with them about it. Sex is only one form of intimacy, and if sex doesn’t work and the three of you want to maintain a romantic/committed/poly relationship, than maybe you can discuss other types of intimacy you can share together so you aren’t feeling on the outside.

  3. My hubby and I live in a small two bedroom place, one room is a dedicated craft/storage room with no room for a bed and the other is our master bedroom.
    My meta is over 90% of the time, which is lovely, but sleeping arrangements are weird. She only stays over on the weekends, and right now I work nights on the weekends, which kind of works out in a way. Her and hubby will sleep together while I’m at work, but then in the morning when I come home (at like 8am) I kick hubby out of bed so I can sleep and I end up sleeping with my meta (not really preferred but it is what it is).
    I have a cat and my meta is medium allergic to cats so her living with us as long as the cat is with us is a no go, and giving the cat away isn’t an option I’m ever willing to entertain.
    We recently came upon an opportunity to move out of town into the suburbs (we live in our downtown area) into a larger suite that would have a dedicated second bedroom for my meta to use when she visits and the cat would not be allowed in. It would mean a lot more commuting for her or my hubby for visiting each other and that has them both upset. Right now my meta can drop by whenever she likes as we live within a 10 minute drive from her and her work. She sees my hubby basically every day and hangs out at our place a lot. Us moving out of town would logistically make this harder for her and my hubby to spend as much time together as they do right now, but the way they are both reacting is like we would be living in another country. It’s frustrating.
    There are pros and cons to every situation but I see this as a good opportunity to have more space and privacy for everyone, even if that means more commuting.
    The current sleeping situation is getting old for me, fast, and I am having to share a bed with someone who I am not in a romantic relationship with and it honestly doesn’t work for any of us. But when I offer an opportunity for change, it’s rejected because it means sacrificing a little time together, or at least make either of them travel a bit more to get that time together….
    Advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Perspective is a bitch. You, from where you are standing and based on your experiences, see this as a golden opportunity. Your hubby and meta standing in different places and with different experiences, don’t.

      Do they know where you are coming from? Do they know that the current sleeping arrangement is getting old and you need to ask for a change? If not, then to them you are offering a solution without a problem.

      My advice would be forget about this move for now. Sit down with them and lay out why the current arrangement is a problem and what you need for a workable arrangement. Then the three of you can look for a solution together that will suit all of you.

  4. My hubby and I live in a small two bedroom place, one room is a dedicated craft/storage room with no room for a bed and the other is our master bedroom.
    My meta is over 90% of the time, which is lovely, but sleeping arrangements are weird. She only stays over on the weekends, and right now I work nights on the weekends, which kind of works out in a way. Her and hubby will sleep together while I’m at work, but then in the morning when I come home (at like 8am) I kick hubby out of bed so I can sleep and I end up sleeping with my meta (not really preferred but it is what it is).
    I have a cat and my meta is medium allergic to cats so her living with us as long as the cat is with us is a no go, and giving the cat away isn’t an option I’m ever willing to entertain.
    We recently came upon an opportunity to move out of town into the suburbs (we live in our downtown area) into a larger suite that would have a dedicated second bedroom for my meta to use when she visits and the cat would not be allowed in. It would mean a lot more commuting for her or my hubby for visiting each other and that has them both upset. Right now my meta can drop by whenever she likes as we live within a 10 minute drive from her and her work. She sees my hubby basically every day and hangs out at our place a lot. Us moving out of town would logistically make this harder for her and my hubby to spend as much time together as they do right now, but the way they are both reacting is like we would be living in another country. It’s frustrating.
    There are pros and cons to every situation but I see this as a good opportunity to have more space and privacy for everyone, even if that means more commuting.
    The current sleeping situation is getting old for me, fast, and I am having to share a bed with someone who I am not in a romantic relationship with and it honestly doesn’t work for any of us. But when I offer an opportunity for change, it’s rejected because it means sacrificing a little time together, or at least make either of them travel a bit more to get that time together….
    Advice would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Perspective is a bitch. You, from where you are standing and based on your experiences, see this as a golden opportunity. Your hubby and meta standing in different places and with different experiences, don’t.

      Do they know where you are coming from? Do they know that the current sleeping arrangement is getting old and you need to ask for a change? If not, then to them you are offering a solution without a problem.

      My advice would be forget about this move for now. Sit down with them and lay out why the current arrangement is a problem and what you need for a workable arrangement. Then the three of you can look for a solution together that will suit all of you.

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