Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em

I’m not a fan of absolute statements.

So when I read “it is way harder to live without someone, than to live with them“, that got my back up.

When you don’t see someone day in and day out, when you don’t live together (and that generally corresponds, though not always, with the earlier stages of a relationship) it’s a hell of a lot easier to romanticise them.

The saying goes that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and it’s a classic for a reason. Being away from someone tends to make you miss them (the principle of scarcity, after all, is that you want what you can’t have) as you focus on their good points (similar to why we tend to sugarcoat the past – my high school memories are pretty rose-tinted, although I had a heck of a teenagehood toward the end of it).

And yes, I know what I’m talking about – T and I did the long distance thing for six months when he had no access to a cell phone or internet, so we communicated via letters and a couple of in person visits. It was lonely sometimes, but on the other hand, we never had any disagreements  or in fact any issues, really. However. I can tell you that if we had spent those six months in the same city, there would have been fights, and there would have been ups and downs.

We all have faults. Annoying or downright gross habits. T doesn’t rinse the basin properly after he shaves. I moult hair everywhere and am slack about picking it up. Sharing your home with another human being that you’re not used to sharing with can be tough. How they like to clean, socialise, eat or sleep may not mesh with how you do things. And we’re adults. Most of our routine habits are pretty well ingrained. Not saying these are dealbreakers – far from it – and some people may slot perfectly into each other’s lives! But the adjustment period can also be rough.

If we were to be separated NOW, that’d be a different story. It’d be undoubtedly harder to live apart after having built a life together. But I don’t personally buy the premise that the pre-moving in together stage is so much more painful than the post.
What do you think?

6 thoughts on “Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em

  • Reply addvodka March 26, 2012 at 12:49

    I don’t agree with her article at all. I have lived with the boy for four years, and it’s not glamorous like she described it; you’re right, it’s incredibly hard to co-habitate with somebody. I love my boyfriend, but I hate how he never replaces the towel in the bathroom, folds his laundry, or dusts. I’m sure he can’t stand a whole bunch of things about the way I live, too.

    She says: “If you’re currently in a relationship, imagine, right now, if you had to spend the majority of your days NOT living with them, or seeing them, or having the ability to hug or touch them in any way”. While obviously I’d like to see the boy every day (I do live with him, after all), I moved here two weeks (almost three) before he did, and existed by myself just fine. I find it infinitely harder to live WITH J than live without him.

    I think, to me, her take on a relationship, is how I felt at the beginning of my relationship with J – that sort of “I want to spend every second of every day with you and not seeing you for a few days will tear me apart” love isn’t sustainable (proven fact, psychologically), and when that fades into loving the person despite his/her many, many flaws, and being able to exist just fine without them, knowing that they’ll be back soon.. well, that’s when it starts to get harder living WITH the person.

    Sorry, long comment. In short, I agree with you.

  • Reply lkrant March 26, 2012 at 13:53

    I think any relationship requires some compromise for the good of the relationship as long as you are not doing all the compromising.

  • Reply Serendipity March 26, 2012 at 15:40

    It is hard to live with someone and it’s hard to live without someone. If for some reason Rambo and I couldn’t live together, I’d probably be sad but if knowing I could see him and there, I’d be okay. I’ve always been pretty independent and have never been one of those girlfriends that can’t do something without their partner. I think the older I get, the more self assured I get as well. I remember him going away for long periods of time would make me sad but now I’m like eh, have fun.

    It’s just funny how people perceive things in relationships sometimes and make broad statements.

  • Reply cantaloupe March 27, 2012 at 06:18

    Due to various factors, (work schedules, roommates, familial obligations, etc.) there are weeks of time where my boyfriend and I do not have any alone time and our relationship gets relegated to a few public outings (in which we cannot touch each other because of the country we live in) and phone communications. There are other weeks where he lives in my apartment. We’ve switched back and forth between these two modes often enough that I can say with absolute certainty that, for me, it is far more difficult when we are apart than when we can live together. When we’re apart, we still get to see each other in public, so we’re not totally estranged, but there is a lot to be said for the intimacy that private time gives to a relationship. When we’re apart, I question whether or not it’s worth it. We both gets jealous of everything. We inevitably fight. When we’re together, we are close. We make more jokes. We are both our happiest selves. The allowances we have to make for one another’s living styles is well worth the intimacy it affords.

  • Reply First Gen American March 27, 2012 at 06:28

    I lived with my spouse for a few years before we were married. It was nice to know there weren’t any surprises ahead of tying the knot. In general, we found a way to live together and make it work. We were both okay doing a test run but as long as you know that both people are willing to work at making small changes to accommodate the other, those changes can come at any time. There are probably things you two already compromise on that doesn’t involve living with a person. I think that is already a good indicator of success.

  • Reply Cows and milk, birds and bees, living in sin | Musings of an Abstract Aucklander May 24, 2012 at 14:54

    […] cohabiting is not always all it’s cracked up to be. I wouldn’t swap it for anything, but it’s definitely not a painless thing for us. Our […]

Leave a Reply to Serendipity Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.