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ouroborosUK
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11 Aug 2016, 1:30 pm

I start to wonder what is the point of living with someone.

I am high-functioning enough that I can get OK by myself from a material point of view. I have a job I like a lot (in academia) and colleagues that respect me; it can be stressful and tiresome sometimes but overall it really feels OK. I have lived alone in the past and managed OK (kept my job, my flat, my sanity, had a reasonable amount of fun, even if I was a bit depressed and felt empty inside sometimes).

I have been living with my girlfriend for about 5 years. We love each other and have a lot of affection, support and respect for each other. I enjoy sharing activities and other times with her, but on a daily basis I feel like I would be better alone. Like, when I go back home from work I feel I would prefer getting to a place where I am alone and can live my own life rather than systematically sharing my time with someone else, even if I love that person.

It causes me a lot of stress and pain and prevent me from getting further into the relationship. I don't really know if I can overcome those issues through better communication and therapy (maybe couple therapy) or if I'm just harming myself trying to fit my life into patterns I am not adapted to.

What is your opinion ? Can someone relate ? For those of you who are living with your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/whatever, what does it bring to you on a daily basis ? (I mean good things that come from living together rather than simply being in a relationship.)


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11 Aug 2016, 3:47 pm

I think that if someone really is not enjoying the experience of living with someone, they should have the right to re-examine what they want in their living circumstances. Convention shouldn't force people into a lifestyle they don't actually want. There are couples who even marry yet live in separate accomodation if each can afford that -- one famous example was Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, another was Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter.

You probably need to discuss your feelings with your girlfriend in a calm and caring way. Tell her the same kind of things you've said here, and that these are your concerns.

Although I've been living alone for many years now, a long time ago when I was married the things I did like about living with someone I loved, was that my best friend was readily available to me (we felt like best friends as well as in love, which to me is the ideal relationship anyway, personally). It was nice to wake up with the person I love and like the most, and to not have to say goodbye at night, but go to bed and to sleep with that person too.

I'm quite reclusive and I don't like to have a lot of friends or social demands. I do value my alone time and it's often a relief to get away from even people I like, rather than get even more time with them.

But when I'm in love, that person tends to become the one person I AM able to spend extensive time with, without getting stressed or bored or other negatives. It's like the "gate" comes down for that person, even though not for others.

So, it becomes a real plus to me, to live with that person and go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning with them by my side. An interesting conversation doesn't have to end with the person rushing off home. It could carry on while brushing teeth and climbing into bed. It was nice. I liked that.

It also tended to be that I didn't mind coming home from a stressful day to that person, instead of to an empty home. If it had been anyone else, like a roommate, no. I would have needed decompression time, I would have been too exhausted to deal.

But again, that one person I'm actually in love with and like more than anyone, and whom I know loves me too, it's different, for me. I feel the most comfortable with that person, thus it's not exhausting to interact with them. I actively wanted to come home to that person. With anyone else, I don't think I could tolerate it. Now that I live alone I do value having the place to myself in order to decompress, be in a bad mood etc.

However, in a good relationship, I feel like that doesn't become such a need, because coming home to that person actually helps lift my mood and my stress, rather than add to it. I found I actually didn't need as much "alone time" because the love in my life actually took away some of my general stress, and living with him reduced my stress.

That was while the relationship was in good health, however. A relationship that's starting to go wrong will do the opposite; add to one's stress greatly. That happened later but that's another story.

Another good thing about living with the person you love is that it can truly be cheaper than bearing all of your living expenses alone. When you live together, assuming both parties have some form of income and can both contribute to the cost of housing, splitting the rent and bills with someone is a way cheaper way to live than being solely responsible. With split/shared expenses, you each have more money to spend or save, than if one person is paying the full brunt of their own housing and bills. It's more practical to be a couple than a single person, and it's more practical and cheaper to be a couple than to have a housemate/roommate, because if you're a couple you only need a one-bedroom place whereas sharing with someone you won't be in the same bed with (!) means you need a larger place with two bedrooms = more rent to pay each anyway. So, it's often cheaper for each parties finances, to live intimately with someone, share the same bedroom, bed, meals, shopping budget.

There are some people who enjoy living with other people, whether that's roommates or a relationship partner. There are some people who can't tolerate either. There are some people who can tolerate and enjoy living with an intimate partner but not with friends or roommates, or vice versa.

What needs to happen is that when you know what type you are, you try to find a way to get that situation into your life with the right people. It could be that your girlfriend might understand this and perhaps you can live separately and keep the relationship intact -- others have done this. The discussion needs to be approached carefully though.


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11 Aug 2016, 5:39 pm

ouroborosUK wrote:
I start to wonder what is the point of living with someone.


If you need to live apart for the sake of solitude, and this is not also the desire of your partner, then very likely, all the things you treasure about her may be lost when she decides you must go your separate ways.

There are ways to carve out some alone time while living together, though. Would it work okay for you to have a separate bedroom, for instance? Or perhaps taking an hour to meditate in a closed room in the evening would be all you really need.

I'd pursue that route first, and see how it goes.


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11 Aug 2016, 8:57 pm

I was married for 15 years--during that time the relationship evolved several times--I think it helps to talk about how things are changing with your partner. We found it useful to plan on doing one outing together every week--but every couple is different. The alone time after work as an issue at first--but disappeared when we found out why...



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12 Aug 2016, 7:33 am

I hate it that somebody wants to be around me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week because she doesn't trust me.

Sometimes, a person wanting to be constantly around somebody has a trust issue.

There are many men and women who understand personal autonomy very well.

Now....if only I could find a person who thinks autonomously, yet enjoys my company.



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12 Aug 2016, 9:12 am

before i had a girlfriend,
my notion of an ideal long-term relationship specifically involved sharing a house/apartment, but separate rooms

after sort of living with my then-girlfriend for a few months,
my notion of an ideal long-term relationship specifically involves sharing a house/apartment, but separate rooms

:)

the point for me is both freedom to be alone and freedom to be together at any moment. also bumping into each other during daily routine is already a nice thing. it makes for casual and cooperative contact without having to go out of your way. that alone can already be basis for a sustained relationtip, with not much extra effort, or maybe even less effort, than being single and living on your own. and definitely less effort than having to go out of your house specifically to maintain the relationship alive, in my opinion

so i see it as a cost-effective thing, both in terms of money and in terms of staying present


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13 Aug 2016, 10:26 am

I don't think I would be able to live with a partner unless they were really independent, had their own friends etc. Social obligations of any kind tend to smother me and make me depressed even if I really like the person I am with, I still need my alone time.

I would encourage your gf to have her own friends that she can go out with so you can have time alone to recharge without social obligations wearing you down. You can still have dinners together and go places together and a loving relationship as long there was no obligation to have to do such activities together everyday or everytime without each other's feelings getting hurt. Clearly you should sit down and talk this through with your gf.


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13 Aug 2016, 12:01 pm

Kraftie -- the OP never said his partner wanted to be around him 24/7 or wanted to be "constantly around him" or "didn't trust him."

And for that matter, NOBODY on this thread said they wanted that.

I sure didn't, for one.

I didn't NEED to be around my husband -- we actually LIKED each other. He wanted to be around me as much as I enjoyed being around him.

It was actually quite the miracle that I even tolerated being around ANYONE.

Don't always assume that couples who do spend a lot of time together are doing it out of "trust" issues or other insecurities.

Me and my husband had plenty of autonomy.

But we genuinely were best friends too. I guess you've forgotten a marriage can be like that.

The OP seems to be describing a perfectly REASONABLE situation -- it doesn't sound like anyone is pressuring him, it just sounds like even this situation is not one he really wants.

It doesn't sound as if he dislikes it for reasons of a girlfriend that doesn't trust him or who even wants too much time with him, it sounds like simply being there and the contact it DOES involve is not to his liking.

Which is also fine, different strokes. But don't be suggesting he's with a clinging harridan. Or that anyone else was or is just because they actually DID spend time together.

kraftiekortie wrote:
I hate it that somebody wants to be around me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week because she doesn't trust me.

Sometimes, a person wanting to be constantly around somebody has a trust issue.

There are many men and women who understand personal autonomy very well.

Now....if only I could find a person who thinks autonomously, yet enjoys my company.


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On the other hand, friends will never need an explanation, and enemies bent on disliking me will never accept one.

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13 Aug 2016, 2:45 pm

My husband is the only person that I want to be around for large amounts of time (well, him and my daughter!). Living with him means having my best friend constantly around for conversation, support and fun.

Love overrides that feeling of wanting to be alone, but not completely, which is why it has always been very important to me to have my own space within the home, and that's something that my husband has always understood and enabled. I have my own room, decorated to my liking, and it is my space to retreat to if I need/want to. Honestly we probably don't spend as much time 'together' as other couples - we don't sit on the same sofa, cuddle up and watch TV, for instance. Often we just sit in silence in the same building, but that's enough - it's the being together that really matters, and being available for each other.

That probably all sounds a bit practical and unromantic, but it isn't.



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14 Aug 2016, 6:29 am

Referring to OP, I think your concerns are perfectly valid. I also think some of the suggestions posted are also valid. It is important to have your own space and alone time and it's worth discussing with your partner to ensure both parties' needs are being met. I was with my ex for 5 years and we never once considered living together because we both enjoyed our own independence and routines and had very different lifestyles and sleeping habits. Whilst I wouldn't rule out living with someone, I would need to feel comfortable we would both be able to maintain our own identities and achieve adequate restoration.

I'm an NT introvert btw.



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16 Aug 2016, 10:23 pm

You really do seem to be somewhat conflicted. You want both a solitary existence when off from work, and a relationship with your girlfriend. There is no easy fix here, but maybe you could spend some time alone when you come home from work. Just tell your girl friend that you need time to recharge your batteries for a while. Spending a little quiet time alone after work, and maybe a little on the weekends may help enough, without having to break up with your girl friend.


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ouroborosUK
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17 Aug 2016, 11:27 am

Thanks to all of you for your kind and insightful answers.

Trust is not really an issue. And neither is willingness to communicate. We do have plenty of communication problems, but we keep talking and talking about those issues (to the point that it can become quite overwhelming by iteself :? ).

A number of you comment that your wife/husband/lover is the only person around whom you do not feel pressured (or with whom the pressure is low enough to be bearable on the long term). Clearly it is not the case for me in my current state of relationship.

The issues are not completely limited to our relationship. My partner has a difficult past (with some family violence and a generally quite unsupportive family) and as a result she has some self-esteem issues and a lot of emotional insecurities that can result in clinging and controlling behaviours. She is perfectly aware of that, we speak about it and she is still taking care of it with therapy. She has done a lot of progress but the problems are still far from being solved. And those issues also create very high and (in my opinion) unrealistic expectations from her about what a family should be (since her family was quite crappy), which has consequences on both her relationship with my family (which takes an insane amount of importance in her mind and in our own relationship) and with myself (since she wants to create a family but I feel the way she thinks about it is wrong somehow). All that put a lot of strain on our relationship, and I often feel overwhelmed by a mess of emotions and reactions I don't understand.

I don't really want to bore you about the details of my relationship or my lover's problems, I just wanted to brush the more general picture. We love each other dearly but sometimes I feel I'm just not the right person to help her - and maybe she's not the right person to help me either. But there are a number of things we can do to try to make it work better. We have already spoken about the private room idea, and we are currently arranging it now. My partner also said I should have other places and other people I can go to when I want to be alone and relax, for example in the friend's room in my parents' place, I am trying to make that possible too. Maybe couple therapy could help too, have some of you tried it ?

Anyway, thank you again for reading and answering me, you gave me plenty of perspective and ideas :)


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17 Aug 2016, 2:25 pm

so your issue is that your relationship is not working out.

you are not happy in it and just dragging by and there is no compatability

in that case maybe you should break off as if you are not married

i had arranged marriage and been living with same guy for last 16 years
and 8O whatever


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13bunnyhop
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18 Aug 2016, 2:57 am

I think it is great she is willing to try find solutions to improving your relationship, despite her own issues and insecurities.



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28 Aug 2016, 7:56 pm

In my own personal experience, the point of living with someone else is to have someone to sit with and shout out lines with you while you watch episodes of "Firefly" over and over again. Other people may have different experiences, though. Like, maybe they prefer watching "Battlestar Galactica."



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29 Aug 2016, 2:18 pm

I wish I lived alone. I did better living alone.