Dear Wayne and Wanda,
A couple of months ago, I started dating "John." We both are in our 30s, never married, have good jobs, and met online at a site for people who are serious about finding a partner, getting married, having kids, etc. Everything is great except that we never spend the night together. John will come over and hang out for dinner or a movie, or will come home with me after a date, and usually we take things to the bedroom and have what I consider to be very fun and satisfying intimacy. But then he always leaves. If I'm at his house, after everything is done, he'll hop up out of bed and be like, "OK, well, it's getting late" -- my cue to leave.
I love hanging out with him but I need more than good sex. I need to fall asleep with him, wake up with him and enjoy the cuddling in between. I have brought this up multiple times. He says he doesn't sleep as well with someone in the bed, that work is really stressful right now, that we both have to wake up too early to have a bad night's sleep ... All of his excuses are logical, and not emotional like mine, so I feel like I can't win. But this is really important to me. How can I get him to see my point of view?
-- Solo sleeper
We spend about a third of our lives sleeping. The quality of that sleep is hugely important to how well the remaining two-thirds of our lives plays out. Some evidence supports your man's view: You may toss and turn more if you've got a buddy in your bed, and indeed, the quality of your sleep may suffer. A study last year out of the United Kingdom found 20 percent of 2,000 adults surveyed lost two or more hours of sleep a night because of a partner snoring, and 10 percent said poor sleep had become such a problem in the relationship that they'd considered bailing on their partner altogether.
So why do we crave overnight companionship? Because it feels good. Because it makes us feel safe. Because it solidifies our sense of being part of a unit. Yes, these are perhaps emotionally driven motives, but they're significant.
When you first bond with a partner, sleep sessions can be rough. People snore, toss and turn, hog covers, thrash -- all behavior incompatible with sweetly curling together and slipping into mutually serene slumber. It usually gets better as your comfort level increases and you come to appreciate benefits of bed cohabitation, such as drowsy pillow talk, impromptu middle-of-the-night intimacy and slowly waking up together in the morning. How about a compromise with John: Suggest weekend slumber parties, and see where it goes from there.
Yeah, few things run the intimacy train off the tracks faster than your lover rolling over and saying, "That was fun -- see you later, babe!"
I'm a sensitive sleeper. If a car passes my house, I wake up; if a raindrop hits my roof, I wake up; and when a woman in my bed moves, I wake up. Don't get me wrong. I love having someone in my bed but I'm also realistic with my bed buddy about my nightly needs. If I require a good night's sleep for the next day, we've got to go our separate ways; if I can afford a few wake-ups and the possibility of a drowsy morning, we can spend the night together. Nothing personal either way, just a clear communication of my needs, and that usually satisfies both parties. (Then again, I'm not in a long-term relationship with my bunkmates ...)
If you are serious about John, you'll talk with him about your intimacy needs. And if John is serious about getting serious with you, he'll sacrifice some of his sacred Z's for some overnight X's and O's in bed with you. These are the things successful long-term relationships are built on: communication and sacrifice. A big, comfy pillow-top bed to share also helps. And if he truly loves you but has a sleepless night, he will hit the couch, not the road.
• Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and been to therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at email@example.com.