My boyfriend and I met a year ago when we both lived in the East Village. Weeks of dating became months, and we started to share a bed every night (even as the activity in bed at best plateaued).
Both of our apartments had what New York realtors call quirks: the four flights of stairs required to reach mine; the bathroom entered through an oft-naked roommate’s bedroom at his — but the close proximity cut down on complaining. Then I moved to Brooklyn in August, three months before his lease was up and, we decided (in a rare fit of shared pragmatism), before we were ready to move in together. This threw our joint sleeping patterns into disarray.
Our inter-borough squabbles about where to spend the night marked a dark time in our relationship, but surprisingly, the inane drama continued when my boyfriend also moved to Brooklyn three months later, about a half-mile from me. Post-work (and boozy après-happy hour) lodging arguments reached a fever pitch. Idle threats were made. Horrified roommates became reluctant mediators. Concerned L train commuters kept a safe distance as the losing boyfriend made his way to the victor’s home, white-knuckled and red-faced. Geography entered the fray: the bars and restaurants clogging my stretch of Williamsburg versus the forlorn industrial grit that defined his “emergent” Bushwick block.
Related: 5 Bad Reasons To Move In Together
It was untenable.
Normally reluctant to follow, let alone impose, rules, I recently realized that only an ironclad sleeping schedule, of the sort usually reserved for toddlers and inmates, would end the screaming matches and profane texting and keep my relationship intact. And although the solution at first seemed too obvious and schematic to work, we haven’t argued about where to sleep in six months. Sunday, Monday, Wednesday at his place. Tuesday, Thursday, Friday at mine. And alternating Saturdays to spice it up.
Based on our experience, here are the seven habits of effective quasi-cohabitation:
1) Put a sleep schedule in writing. Three nights at yours, three nights at his/hers and one night alternating — Saturday, in our case, often decided by which apartment is within easier 4 a.m. staggering distance.
2) Make very few exceptions. Avoid slippery slopes. Resort to cruelty if necessary. Even a broken leg suffered between us (OK, by me) and its attendant fiberglass boot did not qualify as an excuse for alteration.
3) Do not throw stones in sheetrock houses. Your significant other is as irked by your fifth-floor walkup as you are by his bathroom reached exclusively through an oft-naked roommate’s bedroom.
4) Embrace a neighborhood’s flaws. Your block, removed from the L train but replete with bars, does not outweigh the gritty charms of his/her “emerging” warehouse district, assuming those warehouses stand a convenient half-block from the subway.
5) Alert the public to your private sleeping arrangements. The roommates who suffered your inane bunking melodrama deserve access to its cure. Just don’t be too upset when they start syncing their nights at a significant other’s to your nights at home.
6) Date outside your neighborhoods. Rather than attempt to meet up at restaurants, movie theaters and bespoke, organic malt shops equidistant from your pads, go on dates off your contested grid.
7) Don’t forget to sleep with and not just at each other(’s apartments). A common law of common law marriages is that the rate of activity in bed plummets as the frequency of bed sharing rises. Don’t settle for the platonic plateau, even if drawing up a sex schedule is hopefully avoided until marriage.
You’re bound to find exciting new reasons to argue as a couple — whether to watch “Mad Men” or “Game of Thrones,” say, or who’s paying for tonight’s Chinese delivery. But after following these rules, you’ll at least know in advance where these arguments will transpire.