A friend asked me on the net about living with a sweetie. Here's what I wrote. I'll probably have more musings as they occur to me.
Copyright © 2000 B. "Collie" Collier
[F]eel free to ramble: what do you feel are important hidden issues to consider when considering cohabiting with a sweetie?
Hmm... you'd better be willing to be brutally honest with each other. For the first couple of years, whenever Bob wanted to bring up a difficult subject, he'd wait until we were cuddling with our arms around each other. He'd ask the question, and when I tensed up subconsciously he could tell both if he was disturbing me and if I was telling the whole truth... I'd been raised to be politely dishonest, after all. Of course, berating her with a lack of honesty isn't the answer either... be willing to ask the same question, patiently and nonjudgmentally, several times in several different ways. ;-)
Spend time with each other -- time that's just for the two of you. I'm not just talking about sex here. I mean sitting together and watching the same TV program, or sitting on the top of a hill and staring at the clouds while cuddling, or something similar. Snuggle a lot. Physical contact is a life-saver!
Although I won't deny that good sex helps a bunch... ;-) Find out what your lover wants, and do it. That sounds stupidly simple... but it's not. You'd be appalled to realize how many people aren't saying what they want in sex, because they both don't know what they like and don't know how to tell their lovers. Experiment until you find what she really responds to -- and unless it's physically uncomfortable for you, be willing to do it a lot. If it's something you're not that fond of, train yourself to associate it in your mind with her extreme pleasure -- remember that if she's wild about sex you'll get what you want too! Keep in mind you need to be sincere -- your lover probably knows you well enough to know when you're not being genuine, and that's a real passion-killer. Be willing to be vulnerable -- if you can't laugh unselfconsciously with her at yourself, how can you expect her to be willing to be unselfconscious with you?
Get used to the fact that the person you're living with is just as human as you... bodily functions are a part of that, however much you'd prefer to pretend they're not. Sometimes people fart, or burp, or throw up, or have diarrhea... at a time like that, if you're having physical problems that are making you unhappy and uncomfortable, you certainly don't want to be worrying about whether you've irrevocably alienated your sweetie. You want someone to hug you gently, bring you a warm, damp washcloth, or just be silently sympathetic.
Keep in mind your sweetie may turn out to have "odious personal habits"... but then again you probably do too. Trying to be unobtrusively supportive of efforts to lose weight or stop biting your nails is nice... nagging about it, however well intentioned, isn't.
Give of yourself. A lot. Don't expect anything in return. You'd be surprised how happy it can make her to have you do something as simple as bringing a plate of crackers and cheese slices to her while she's absorbed in working on the computer. If she really loves you, she'll do the same for you herself, when she's ready and wants to. You, however, should assume it will never happen, that you're giving because you love her, not because you're going to ever get any return on it. You'd be surprised how hard that is. You'd also be surprised how much lovely return you get if the two of you are really in love.
If you must argue, make sure you don't shout at each other, that you continuously observe the same rules of courtesy you'd give to a friend, and that the argument doesn't become a fight. There's nothing wrong with being right but not insisting she see it your way. What's the point of 'winning' the battle if you lose the war? If you do this, however, keep in mind that smugness about your 'rightness' is not the same as gracefully withdrawing from a fight or letting her way prevail.
Make sure you have enough money. Money problems can put a real and unpleasant strain on a relationship. On the other hand, keep in mind that caring for each other a lot goes a long way towards alleviating any feelings of lack due to not owning (for example) a TV or a microwave or a fax machine, or whatever else we're told we can't live without as "good" consumers.
Remember, having a lover takes constant work. If you wouldn't wander around in your stinky undies at home with a friend present, what makes you think she's going to like it? This is supposed to be your best friend -- treat her like it!
Last Updated: Tues Jan 25 2000