I’ve written before (The BIGger Picture) about that as humans, we have an innate drive to be accepted. Most of us like to feel ‘normal’. We like to know that our choices are within a range that does not raise social alarm bells in those from who seek approval – consciously, or subconsciously.
All animals have connections – at the most basic level, it’s about reproduction. But humans have connections that go way deeper than that basic need to populate.
Our connections give us culture, society, friendships, context, morals, norms, a vast labyrinth of reference points. And as individuals, we seek out and respond to these reference points differently. Some of us give the connections we have and make with others minimal attention, adhering to those that simply afford us an invisibility in society, whereas some of us let the reference points dictate our behaviours at a most detailed level.
(You only have to Google the impact that social media has on our mental health to get an idea of how impressionable we are when we pit our own lives against that of others.)
But sometimes we make a connection – either intentionally or by accident – that helps us know that we are not alone; that choices we are making are just fine; there are others “just like me”. And it’s this type of connection that can give us great comfort – or even just the ability to sigh, and realise that we aren’t alone – we belong to a group, even if it’s a group of me….. and someone else.
When we belong to a group of like minded people, we find a comfort in this primal act of connecting and sharing experiences. ‘Belongingness‘s Wikipedia page explains the social pull we have to find others like us, and this article on the CNN website goes into a little more detail about the need we have to know that we are part of something bigger.
Sharing reduces our individual burden. It gives us each the chance to think that there is another person out there that we can compare our experiences with. It means we aren’t alone.
And so it is with separate sleeping. I never cease to be (very happily) surprised and (always) heartened by messages I receive from people who find my website and read my book. I often have people who contact me tell me the comfort they find in learning that they are not the only person, or couple, who struggle to share a bed and then make the decision to head to separate rooms.
Just this week I received an email from a lady in Canada detailing her and her husband’s struggles to come to a level of comfort around the fact that after 16 years of sleeping together, snoring and increasing movement in bed (by the husband) has left them in the position that they are looking to head to separate rooms each night. She finished her email with “Thank you for posting this as I am feeling less alone and am hoping that we can both find a better solution for the both of us.”
THIS IS A GOOD THING.
Hearing (well, reading) this message makes me smile, because it’s one of the MAIN REASONS I wrote my book. I had spoken to so many people who thought no-one else wanted to head to a separate bed from their loved one. It’s not common and I’ve written enough about the stigma associated with it (and how bloody stupid, unnecessary and unfair it is).
So when you learn about the fact that it’s not THAT uncommon, it’s MORE prevalent than you think, there are THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of couples doing it, and YOU’RE NOT A FREAK for wanting to do it……
That’s a damn fine level of comfort to reach.