Is It Normal To Spend Every Night Together But Not Live Together? An Expert Weighs In
From waking up with your feet all piled together, to brushing your teeth at the same sink and playfully knocking elbows, there's a lot of gooey sweet stuff about spending the night with your boo — outside of having sex (which can be gooey and sweet too). When you're in love, in lust, or in like, and you live in the same area, it's common to want to spend as much time as possible together. But is it normal to spend every night together but not live together?
A running joke in my family is, "What is normal?" It's true: When it comes to dating, especially dating in 2018, all bets are off. No one knows what feels right in your relationship besides you and your partner. There isn't a specific timeline of when to first drop the big L word or when to move in together. Perhaps then, the questions become: Is it healthy to spend every night together? Am I enjoying not living together? Are we together every night because we want to or because we feel we can't be apart? (This could open up the question of "Well, what is healthy?" but we'll leave that to Liberal Arts kids wearing beanies that don't cover their ears.)
I spoke with Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent dating and relationship expert, about company versus codependency, and spending every night together when you and bae still have your own places.
What is codependency?
Sorry, let me turn down Destiny's Child's "Independent Women Pt. 1," which is blaring in the background. In all seriousness, "codependency" is buzzword thrown around a lot when talking about relationships — romantic, familial, or platonic. But how does codependency function? And can you be codependent and still, as Kelly, Michelle, and Bey would say, a honey that's makin' money?
"Co-dependency is a way of being in a relationship where one person consistently puts the needs of the other ahead of their own," Brown tells Elite Daily. "You find yourself too dependent upon the approval of your partner."
If you're a natural care-taker, a water sign, or someone into domestic tasks like cooking or gardening, you could find yourself tending to your partner in more overt ways. It isn't a bad thing to love on your boo and let them love on you back, but it's also good to put yourself first! If you're feeling that your own wants or needs are getting pushed under the rug you just vacuumed, it may be time for a check-in.
Is there such a thing as too much time with bae?
You love your boo. You love their laugh. You love their smell. You want to see them whenever you can! But how can you tell if every night is too much?
"I think you spend too much time with your partner if it interferes with your ability to function in other areas of your life. For example, getting to work on time, and forging or maintaining friendships," Brown explains. "If it inhibits you from engaging in activities that used to bring you pleasure; or if you are becoming co-dependent."
If you and boo like to spend every night together and it works for you, wahoo! But if you find yourself missing out on that yoga class you wanted to take or skipping a pal's B-Day happy hour because your partner wants you to hang at their house, it could be a good idea to instigate a chat. You deserve to do what makes you happy — whether it's sleeping at bae's every night or taking time for a weekly no-partners-allowed friend dinner.
Why do couples keep their own spaces?
Maybe you have a lot of clothes. Like a lot. Maybe you have conservative parents that would not be into you sharing a room with boo. Maybe you like having a space to return to for writing or tea-drinking, (see the Sex And The City movies).
"Some partners in a couple like the pleasure and benefits of being together on a regular basis but may choose to keep their own spaces for a variety of reasons," Brown says. "Plus, for some, one of the benefits of not living together is that it makes it more difficult to take your partner for granted."
Plenty of couples retain their own spaces as their relationships grow. If you and your partner have a lot of shared interests and mutual friends, it could be nice to have something that's just for you. It may even be sexy to have some time away, and build that anticipation.
Can you tell enjoying company from codependency?
It can be hard to know how much time together is the right about of time together. But how can you tell being amped about your boo from feeling like you need them to live?
"You know you are enjoying someone’s company if you find yourself looking forward to being with them the majority of the time, and you feel grateful for the time you get to have with them," Brown states. "You know if you’re codependent if you feel that you are more obsessed or addicted to being with them. This doesn’t mean that they should or should not spend every night together. Each couple has to decide for themselves what works best for them as individuals as well as a couple."
Figuring out excitement from obsession is no easy task. Cue Bianca from 10 Things I Hate About You, "I like my Skechers, but I love my Prada backpack." But every couple has to figure out what's best for them as separate people, and as a team. The truth is, what's best for you may not always be what's best for your relationship. However, opening up a dialogue about the time you spend together and your individual needs can help you both to find what truly works best for you.
And if you're feeling like you can't spend a night apart?
Are you and bae having a nightly slumber party because you like each other's company or because you can't be alone? Is there anything wrong with the latter?
"Feeling like you can’t spend a night apart may be a sign that you have become too dependent or codependent. If that is the case, then you might need to ask yourself why you are putting all of your emotional eggs in one basket," Brown adds. "There is a flip side to this. It can also mean that you are simply very much in love with your partner and, even though you feel that you 'can’t' spend a night apart, you actually can but you just don’t 'want' to. There’s a difference."
There's a difference between feeling too dependent and just feeling super in love. Yet, opening the lines of communication with your boo could be helpful when it comes to checking in about how you are both feeling.
But how do you talk about it?
"Just talk about it!" can sound easy, but can prove difficult in practice. How do we establish healthy boundaries? How do we understand each other's needs and still prioritize our love?
"Most simply, I encourage couples to have a series of conversations about how much time they would like to spend together. It isn’t enough to have this conversation only one time," Brown concludes. "It’s important to recognize that the answer for one may not always be the same answer for the other. People change and so our needs change. Who you are at the beginning of a relationship is not likely to be the exact same person with the exact same needs at another point down the road."
A relationship isn't built in one day, but having discussions about sharing space and time together can create a solid foundation. Having smaller, but more frequent conversations can take the pressure off of having big "talks."
When it comes to living together or apart, there is no normal. If you're in love and all you want to do is see your boo, that's OK. If you're debating becoming a nun and it feels better to leave romantic partners at their own homes (me), that's okay too! By talking to your partner about what feels right, you can start to find the balance you need. Home is where the heart is — and if that home means two separate apartments but nightly sleepovers, may no one hog the blanket and someone always make coffee.