If you believe the love songs, no one wants to live alone. But, equally, living with a partner can be an emotional minefield.
Take mine, for instance. (Well, you can’t take him; he’s mine.) We do not live together, even though we’ve been together for nearly five years. Usually this drives us insane, but there are occasions when I’m so glad of my personal freedom I clap my hands in self-congratulation.
I confess: We did live together, once. I was in my second year of university and my boyfriend came up for a year to keep me company. Previous to the big moving-in day we’d envisaged cosy nights, dinner parties and hot sex in whichever room took our fiery fancy. In reality, exam stress combined with a penchant for mid-week late nights didn’t bode well for his all new, grown-up (somewhat restrictive, I thought, although fundamentally superior) nine-to-five lifestyle. Further still, his laissez-faire attitude to the cleanliness of crockery didn’t sit well with my alarmingly dictatorial stance; nor was I the biggest fan of his omnipresent grey socks.
We parted ways gracefully, with our love just about intact. We resumed our long-distance habit. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Except, now I think it may be a bit broke. In fact, I find myself daydreaming more and more about giving it another shot. Don’t get me wrong, there is something magical about actually making the decision to spend time together, quite literally going that extra distance, rather than simply emerging from the kitchen and bumping into the love of your life: ‘Oh, you again. Since you’re here, fancy a bit of Louis Theroux?’
But wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go for a Sunday walk without having to pull out diaries, risk repetitive strain injury from the sheer volume of text messages necessary to co-ordinate travel arrangements (whose house do we start from? What time should we meet? Can we sort this out before the sun goes down?), or generally complete a course in event management?
Maybe his socks weren’t the problem. Maybe we just needed more space. (I cannot emphasise enough the importance of a kitchen that accommodates more than one person at once.)
Or maybe we left it too late. That is, moving in together at year three of the relationship was too casual. Perhaps we would have been better off following the example of friend who moved in with her boyfriend immediately upon noticing their mutual adoration. She is now quite happily one half of that couple who host dinner parties, stroll hand-in-hand in hats and gloves and still have sex. Perhaps we’d gotten too used to our freedom.
Or take my other early-moving friends, located via facebook, who now have different surnames. Or another (older) friend, who has been ecstatically married for 29 years, who proudly announced to me recently that he has ‘had a woman in the house’ permanently since the age of sixteen.
That’s it then; we’ve been too indecisive – all this flapping around, we’ve missed the boat. And think of the environment; surely early-cohabiting couples are far, far greener (far less go-betweening to be gone), let alone lighter of phone bill.
Oh well. I’ll get more done in a room of my own, as Virginia Woolf would declare and more love songs should mention. And maybe one day we’ll find a house with a big enough kitchen.