Sharing Your Bed

How do you feel about this most intimate act? Positive or negative?

Posted Oct 07, 2019

A friend of mine was telling me about a recent family camping trip and the one room cabin by a lake that they rented.   “Where did everybody sleep?’ I asked, because it sounded impossible to get parents and siblings and partners all sorted out in such a small place.

“Some people had sleeping bags, my parents slept on the big bed, and I shared the other bed with my brother,” she answered.

Very little surprises me after so many years of hearing about people’s most intimate doings, but I have to say that I was shocked. There was nothing sexual about it.  I understood that.  My friend was unbothered, so I didn‘t make a big deal about it, but the fact that I was so shocked shocked me, if you know what I mean. I myself have a brother who I am extremely fond of, but I wouldn’t share my bed with him under any circumstances I can imagine.

To me, my bed is a private and sacrosanct place and sleeping a very personal matter. When I was a child I shared my bed with my pets and my dolls and my brother, if we were rough-housing, but when it was time to sleep everything and everybody had  to go home, so to speak.  As an adult, the same was true with lovers. After grown-up “rough-housing,” everyone went back to his or her own bed to sleep.

I have lived with three partners long-term, that is ten years or more.  The initial adjustment wasn’t easy for me.  I did learn to enjoy having the one I loved in such an intimate arrangement eventually.  I learned that I could hear him groan in his sleep, or fart, or toss and turn and take my covers and still love him in the morning.  But then, I was exposing my own grunts and groans, snores, morning breath, and bed-head of hair.  Could he still find me lovable, I sometimes feared?

Certainly there are pluses to sharing one’s bed with an intimate other, to have your bare legs entwine with his or hers, to have spontaneous morning sex when birth control has been dealt with or is not an issue, but to me, then and still, sharing one’s actual sleeping is an act of great intimacy.

I see that my feelings are not shared by everyone.  My own father, an immigrant in a family of five boys, slept with all his brothers together in one bed like a pile of puppies.  When the family grew wealthy enough so that there were beds for all, my father felt so lonely in his that he always crept in to sleep with whatever brother would have him.

I know a couple in their 70s who are happily married, still have a sex life, and not only sleep in separate beds but in separate bedrooms.  Another married couple I know still maintain the separate apartments they had when single, which has a definite appeal to me.

It’s strange that so many people feel something like my father, find sharing a bed either a positive, or at least neutral like my friend, who see nothing essentially private about the act of going to sleep.  But then, there are those who sit on the toilet while their partner is taking a bath. Who can say which acts are personally private for any of us?