When I was in my twenties, the thing I wanted most in life was to be in a serious, committed relationship that would culminate in living with a man and a dog or two (or five). I bent over backward for fuckboys and guys who were way below my standards because I was so desperate to be loved and have someone else with whom to share my space and my time. And I managed to have a few relationships, but none that progressed to the point of living together. I don’t think I was actually ready for that step anyway, but I still wanted it SO badly.
Now that I’m in my thirties and I am emotionally ready for that cohabitation step, I’m not sure that I even want it. Because I was forced to be on my own for so long, I think my habits and preferences have deepened their roots so deeply inside of me that I find it hard to imagine a peaceful living situation with anyone other than myself and the ghost that lives inside of my apartment.
I may just be triggered by past traumas because I’ve managed to survive through some really heinous and uncomfortable living situations. When I was living in Chicago from ’06-‘08, I roomed with three other girls in a shit hole with one bathroom, no dishwasher, and the sounds of crackheads yelling and buses screeching underneath my second-floor window. Because I was twenty-two years old, I was, fortunately, able to manage my expectations. I was grateful to only be paying $500/month in rent and stayed at my boyfriend’s apartment the majority of the time anyway.
When I moved to Los Angeles right before 2009, I agreed to live with one girl who I didn’t know and a friend from college and her boyfriend, in a three bedroom townhouse. Living with couples is always a gamble, but the townhouse was so dope and brand new and would only cost me $675/month, so I signed the lease with zero hesitation. When my friend’s boyfriend turned out to be a Nazi commander who would send lengthy emails about crumbs left on the countertop that morning, I knew I had made a huge mistake. The final, petty straw was him telling me that I would need to cough up a couple more dollars for my share of the electric bill one month since I had turned the air conditioning down a degree or two at night before bed for like a week when the average temp was 115 degrees. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
Then I moved to West Hollywood to live in a very average, cookie cutter apartment with a girl I knew from Chicago. The building was chill and had a pool and I met some cool neighbors, so I was happy with that arrangement. Our coffee table was a plastic trunk covered with a decorative cloth and our dining room table was a card table, but whatevs! We made it work. After my friend from Chicago moved BACK to Chicago on the one year mark, I replaced her with a stranger that a girl from work had connected me with. That stranger turned out to be a very compatible roommate for me and we shared a couple blissful years together. On year three she came out of the closet and immediately moved her girlfriend into her bedroom. I loved only paying $600/month in rent again, but it wasn’t enough space for us and we also started having a cockroach problem, so we bounced. As if I hadn’t learned my lesson on living with a couple the first time, I signed a one year lease to live with the two of them in an upgraded apartment across Sunset Boulevard. They broke up about four months in, and the girlfriend slept in the living room until she found her own place.
After that tumultuous experience ended, I had finally scraped up enough cash to feel confident about living on my own in a tiny studio apartment and I’ve never looked back. I couldn’t believe how freeing it was to not have to feel intense anger every time the trash can was piled to the top with (not my) takeout boxes or see all of the dishes in the sink when the dishwasher was RIGHT FUCKING THERE. The only person who I had to hold accountable was myself, and it was such a dream. I kept my living quarters as clean or as dirty as I wanted and literally never ran out of paper towels because it was always my turn to buy them and I’m responsible af.
Having managed to survive through the years of sharing a space for so long I am now at the point in my life where I no longer want to make compromises and chore charts. And living with a boyfriend is certainly different than living with a roommate—it’s worse, in fact. Because not only do you have to share a space you have to, gasp, share a BED. I can barely manage to share a bed for a couple days a week, let alone for every night of my life (or until we break up).
My living habits have become more specific over time, sure, but my sleeping habits have become next level high maintenance. I think I speak for everyone when I say that as we get older it becomes harder and harder to fall asleep. Without the help of pills, and with the added stresses of our life/job/relationships, thrown in with a saggy mattress and a bad back, it’s a challenge to sleep through the night. When you add another body onto that saggy mattress whose body temperature could only be described as a fiery furnace, it’s damn near impossible to get comfortable. And if you’re anything like me, you need a fan turned on high to drown out the sounds of your ghost, pitch blackness so dark it’s like the inside of a coffin, and the thermostat turned to sixty-six degrees (sixty-four if you have company). If your partner doesn’t mesh well with all of your overnight needs and proclivities then you’re not going to want to sleep together very often. If I can’t get my required seven to eight hours of sleep a night I am an absolute nightmare to be around. And I don’t do well with caffeine so I’m just dragging myself through the day after a sleepover.
I understand that any living arrangement takes some time to get used to, and that there would be an adjustment period and that each person would need to be open-minded and flexible. Relationships take work and compromise in order to flourish. But the longer I live alone the longer I feel like maybe there is another solution to this situation, all of which require a high financial investment. Perhaps a king-sized bed would make sleeping together more enjoyable? Or maybe two separate beds in the same room? What about even sleeping in separate bedrooms? Or at least having a guest bedroom to escape to when one of us has to get up early? Or hell, what about separate apartments right next door to each other?! That sounds ideal! Also, I need my own bathroom so that I won’t get pissed about his pee all over the seat, and we would surely need to get a cleaning lady so that we didn’t fight about whose turn it was to clean the shower. That pretty much runs my tab up to unrealistic levels.
I like my peace, I like my quiet, I like my sanity. I’m OCD and have a routine in place that I’d very much like to not be fucked with. I’m really not jazzed about the idea of flipping my life upside but I’m also not jazzed about potentially being alone forever. I honestly just can’t win. There will (hopefully) come a day that I decide to stop being a stubborn, Scrooge-y asshole, but today is just not that day.