My Girlfriend and I Tried a 'Sleeping Divorce'
Boy oh boy, I can’t believe my girlfriend hasn’t booted my skinny ass to the curb yet. After making her spend a few hours with me at a dingy sex hotel, I came to her again with a different -- albeit equally irritating -- offer: what if we slept in separate in rooms for an entire week?!
Despite the fact that a staggering one-third of married couples choose to sleep in separate beds, it’s worth mentioning that I was not excited to see this experiment out to the end. I did the research, about how it's become a trend for people to have separate rooms (the National Association of Home Builders claims 60 percent of new houses constructed in the last year have TWO master bedrooms). And I read all about the evidence suggesting sleeping separately may be good for the relationship -- and your ability to get a full night's sleep. Still.
Here are the facts about my girlfriend and me:
1. We live together.
2. We’ve been sleeping in the same bed every single day for a year straight.
3. We love cuddling. And sex on beds.
4. Our couch is very uncomfortable. I put the tiny thing together myself (two hours in intense summer heat), and it lacks any sturdiness. We’ve folded it out futon-style before so friends could sleep on it. They said it’s fine, but I always figured -- and now know -- that they’re liars.
It was an experiment I couldn’t formulate a hypothesis for: what will it be like sleeping alone for the first time in months when my girlfriend (and warm bed) are 10ft away? Probably not fun... probably uncomfortable... probably eye-opening in a very “I told you so way.”
I was right... man, do I hate being right.
The level of begrudging-ness exuded from my girlfriend and permeated the apartment when I told her that we weren’t allowed to sleep in the same bed for five days. She was annoyed at the prospect and asked what we could possibly learn from such an experiment. I answered that it was the perfect opportunity to learn about ourselves and even relish in the eight new hours of private time. She wasn’t moved and told me I had to sleep on the couch. I countered by saying I expected her to say that.
Being the bad planner that I am, I kinda forgot to buy an extra set of sheets and the necessary quilt that would make sleeping on the couch comfortable. We’re not lazy, I just hate having company over. Needless to say, the first night wasn’t fun for either of us. I spent the night trying to avoid the oppressive metal beam in the middle of the fold-out couch and she told me she had trouble sleeping because the bed felt too lonely. We left our apartment feeling exhausted and angry.
“What about morning sex?”
I rush-ordered a blanket and set of sheets from Amazon Prime and planned out how I could ensure night two wouldn’t be as depressing, lonely, or uncomfortable as night one. We spent most of the night watching a movie on the couch -- Armageddon, actually -- and opened up a bottle of whiskey to ease the notion of another potentially awful night.
“I really didn’t like last night,” she said.
“Yeah,” I agreed.
“Like, it feels like we’re at a parent’s house or something.”
“Yeahhhhh,” I said again, tastefully elongating the word to accurately communicate my mutual discontent.
“What about morning sex?”
“I mean, we can still do that… I’ll just walk 10 feet.” She didn’t seem satisfied.
That night, despite the sheets and blanket, I got just as little sleep as the night before. I got up around 2am to unfold the couch and finally found a quasi comfortable position. Just as I was about to fall asleep, I became alert from a noise coming from my hallway -- my neighbor -- I don’t know her name, I just call her Pinky because she owns a pair of pink pants. She was arguing with someone in the hallway. I distinctly make out the phrase “every single night” and wondered if she, indeed, had been arguing in the hallway before. Had I not heard it from the seclusion of my own room? Who was she arguing with? I woke up at 8am and skipped the gym.
"The novelty had already worn off and I was deeply unexcited to spend another night on our cheap green couch."
“Last night wasn’t as bad,” chirped my girlfriend, uncharacteristically chipper.
“I heard Pinky yelling at someone,” I said.
“I didn’t hear anything. I actually feel asleep pretty fast… probably from the whiskey.”
“Did you have any nightmares?”
The novelty had already worn off and I was deeply unexcited to spend another night on our cheap green couch.
Night three I laid awake and listened to my girlfriend snore from the other room. Seemed like she got over her distaste for sleeping alone pretty fast. I turned on the TV and watched two episodes of Rick and Morty. Such a funny show. I fell asleep with the TV on and had a dream that Drake wanted to celebrate New Year’s Eve together. I can’t remember the last part of the dream, but I woke up just as it was getting good.
My girlfriend jokes that we should extend this experiment by a few days and I joke that we haven’t had sex since Sunday, which ends up working out, as we have some really nice couch sex.
Expecting me to say no, she asks if I’d rather her sleep on the couch tonight. I jump at the chance and tell her I’d love to take to the bed. For the greater good of the experiment, of course! She seems a little disappointed, but her small stature will adapt to the minuscule size of the couch.
"The couch is dead -- long live the couch!!"
Alone in our bed, I’ve never been so comfortable. Aside from the fact that I just genuinely like being alone in a comfy space, it’s the most amount of softness my body’s experienced in days. I spend all night dawdling on my phone, rolling around, and spreading my legs out like a starfish.
I never want to go back to the couch ever again, I don’t even want to goddamn sit on it. The couch doesn’t deserve that type of satisfaction. The couch is dead -- long live the couch!!
“How’d you sleep?”
“Fine,” she said, “It’s not the best, but it really isn’t that bad.”
“Yeah, I mean, I’m smaller… so I felt less claustrophobic than you probably did.”
“Hm. Did you hear Pinky fighting?”
“Who?” she asks. “The neighbor.”
"I hate sleeping on the couch -- it’s a thing for barbarians and miscreants..."
“Oh, I call her DW Brown! I did hear her! I wonder how often that happens!”
“I thought the same thing,” I said. “Maybe she’s fought all month, but we couldn’t hear her from our room!
"Why do you call her DW Brown?”
“DW for ‘dishwater.’ She has dishwater brown hair.”
She does have dishwater brown hair. Eureka! Friday night, I folded the couch out again and switched positions so my head was facing the window. I opened it up and let the cool Bushwick trash-breeze blow onto my sallow skin.
I hate sleeping on the couch -- it’s a thing for barbarians and miscreants and I cherish the memories of the night before, when I slept in my very own bed. I miss my girlfriend's soft skin and her perpetual coconut smell. She smells so good.
I miss turning over and squeezing her body when I’m restless and feeling her thrash around when she’s having one of these dreams about Teddy Roosevelt that she always has.
Arthur hate couch.
Sleeping on the couch really helps a guy appreciate his apartment. You notice things all the things you never really look at: like your coffee table, from an angle nary a soul ever sees.
The only thing to keep you company are the blinking lights of the modem and the sounds of your neighbor -- Pinky McDishwater -- fighting with her sister or brother or boyfriend. Or whatever.
It also helps you appreciate the missing company! Absence makes the heart feel blah blah blah. I wasn’t surprised with how I felt at the end, but was unpleasantly surprised at how quickly my girlfriend adapted to the change.
On Saturday, we laid in bed all night and watched Downton Abbey, which is actually a really interesting show. We revelled in the softness of the blankets and deep cushion and fell asleep in the middle of the finale of season one. Not to spoil anything, but England and Germany are now at war.
When I asked my girlfriend about her experience, she said she felt similarly. It turns out she also loves my skin, and my sounds, and my thrashing. Ugh, young love.
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.
Arthur Tram writes all across the Internet and loves seafood.