Writer (and social media queen) Rachel Kramer Bussel sleeps alone. She also lives with her boyfriend. She couldn’t be happier.
“We figured out early on that we just weren’t compatible sleeping next to each other,” Kramer Bussel tells Yahoo Health. “Neither of us slept well, we were grouchy, and we were meaner to each other because of it.”
A hotel stay this past May provided a revelation. The first night, Kramer Bussel and her boyfriend shared a bed, leaving them both varying degrees of miserable. On the second night, unable to sleep, Kramer Bussel grabbed the comforter off the bed, headed to the bathtub, blanket in tow, and read until she eventually fell happily asleep.
“So once we realized it wasn’t working and that we could easily have separate bedroom, we did it….When we began looking for apartments [together], we only looked at two bedrooms. I’d say that’s our number one real estate priority, because the rest of our relationship and daily lives are predicated on sleeping well.”
And the most surprising thing about Kramer Bussel’s sleeping set-up? Kramer Bussel says, having separate bedrooms has made her and her boyfriend’s relationship even more intimate.
“I never feel “separate” from my boyfriend,” she says. “We literally kiss and say goodnight and that we love each other at night and the same in the morning. I find that far more intimate and comforting than in the past where I have slept next to partners…but just grunted at each other first thing. I think it preserves our autonomy in terms of how and when we sleep, and gives us privacy and space.”
Having separate bedrooms can enhance intimacy, she notes, since “when we are in bed together, almost always in his room, that it’s our time to be with each other, not just a generic time to go to a bed that we happen to share….When we do join each other, usually after watching TV or on weekend mornings, there’s no pressure or expectations. We’re there because we both want to be there.”
For those who think separate bedrooms sounds pretty appealing and are thinking about giving the arrangement a try, Kramer Bussel emphasizes that it’s crucial to first “separate what’s right for you from what the rest of the world might think. You can’t control anyone else’s actions or reactions, so if it’s the best decision for you, own that. Reassure your partner that you love them and love spending time with them, but for your own reasons, you want to fall asleep by yourself. I think you can create rituals to focus on each other, whether before bed or in the morning or at another time, that can take the place of what people think they’ll get from sleeping together.”
And as an erotica editor (her latest book, Dirty Dates: Erotic Fantasies for Couples just came out on Tuesday, Nov. 10), Kramer Bussel is especially aware, and well-versed in, how couples can keep the romance alive and well, regardless of how and where they sleep.
“I of course recommend reading some erotica, whether reading out loud to each other, or leaving a book by the nightstand for your partner,” she suggests, “Or if that’s not your cup of tea, even leaving each other sexy notes. I think you want to respect the other person’s space, but also let them know you are still thinking about them. So if one of you goes to bed earlier, the other person can leave a cute note in the kitchen for them, or send them a sexy or just cute email for them to wake up to.”
And when it comes to the haters? Well, Kramer Bussel hasn’t really encountered them.
“Maybe because we are clearly in love and affectionate with each other, I think people can tell that “separate bedrooms” isn’t code for “relationship problems.”