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How to Get Used to Sleeping Alone

Once we get used to sleeping with our partners, the simple act of sleeping by ourselves can be hard to adjust to.
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Once we get used to sleeping with our partners, the simple act of sleeping by ourselves can be hard to adjust to.

I have been a part of a variety of “different” relationships. I’ve had my fair share of casual, super romantic, and entirely platonic relationships. I’ve had relationships where we lived together, ones where we lived apart, and even ones where we lived in different area codes. There’s always one thing that’s tough, among all these different types of relationships: Getting used to a drastic change in your sleeping arrangements.

When you first start sleeping together (actually sleeping) it can be tough to get used to sharing your bed with a partner. However, it’s a fair amount harder to go back to sleeping on your own once you’ve gotten used to sharing with someone else.


How likely is it to happen?

In the beginning of my current relationship, we never spent more than a week apart at a time. Sometimes she’d come to see me, and other times I’d go to see her – but it was our “weekend thing”. I worked two jobs, so sometimes we’d only be together for a few hours before I had to leave for work again, but on the weekends my time was a little freer, and I’d be able to spend the night with her more frequently. It’s very comforting to have that with someone.

Now that we live together, a few hours away from her family, we actually spend longer periods of time apart (although we also spend longer periods of time together). Recently she went to go see her family, and I was unable to go because of work. It was originally going to be a two-week trip, but by the middle of the third week, I was getting a bit cranky – I couldn’t sleep right without her!

Every time she goes away, I have to re-learn how to sleep alone. Of course, it’s the same basic process as it was every other time – probably a hundred separate times between all my past relationships and break-ups. I’d like to pretend it gets easier with experience, but that’s not exactly the case.


When you’re too cold by yourself:

When your body is getting used to sleeping alone again, it can be difficult to get to sleep. In my situation, I have a relatively low body temperature, so sleeping with someone when it’s cold out is pretty important. When I’m alone, I feel extra cold, because I don’t have her body heat to help keep me warm.

Now, the obvious solution here would be to grab an extra blanket – but a blanket doesn’t hold a candle to the arms of your loved one. After all, the warmth is only one of the aspects that we miss about cuddling, and no matter how soft and warm a blanket is, it can’t really cuddle back with you.

Sometimes the best solution in this case is to simply find something else to cuddle with. If you’re used to being the “little spoon” this can be a bit harder than it is for “big spoons” – inanimate objects won’t hold you. However, to help mimic someone cuddling against you, a heavy pillow along your back might do the trick. Coupled with a nice warm blanket, it definitely won’t be as good as the real thing, but it’ll help hold you over in the meantime.


When you can’t unwind by yourself:

This one has always been difficult for me. Like many women, I enjoy the routine of sex, followed by some talking, followed by a deep and restful slumber. It’s pretty hard to mimic that process if your partner is away, and pretty much impossible to mimic it when you’re going through a break-up. There are steps you can take that will help make the adjustment process a little easier, though.

The most obvious way to emulate sex would be with masturbation, naturally. I personally am not the type to “do the job myself” if I’m in a relationship; after all, that’s one of the perks of having a girlfriend! But that’s not to say that I don’t do a little self-servicing when my girlfriend is away. It might not seem like the most romantic answer to the problem, but it can easily turn into a bonding activity between the two of you. When my partner and I are apart, and I do decide to take matters into my own hands – I make sure to tell her about it!

Just as with cuddling, it’s nowhere near a replacement for the real thing, but in a pinch it can get the job done.

The process of telling her what I’m doing to myself directly transforms into the “after-sex talking” that we would normally do, although this time separated by literal distance between us. Once your sexual needs have been met (extra bonus points if you can both handle them simultaneously), you’re already texting or talking on the phone – just talk to her as you normally would, and focus on getting yourself ready for sleep.

This process isn’t that much different if it’s due to a relationship ending, at least not as different as it may seem. All you really have to do is find someone who puts your mind at ease, usually a close friend, and talk to them about your day. (Maybe leave out the part where you played with yourself, though, unless you have that type of a relationship with that person.)


When you miss waking up next to her:

This one is probably the hardest to work around, as there’s not really anything that comes close to seeing your partner’s face when you wake up. If you’re only separated by physical distance, keeping a photo close to the bed can help some. Your best bet will be a photo that invokes a particular memory. Maybe it’s a picture of the two of you at the beach together, or a photo you took of her at her last birthday party. Whatever it is, it should have some emotional significance, because that joy you get when you see her face when you wake up is tied directly into your happy memories with her.

If it’s emotional distance that has you sleeping alone, you should take an entirely different approach. Instead of having a picture of your ex-girlfriend at your bedside, opt instead to have a picture of someone (or something) else that represents positivity in your life. After all, a picture of someone you’re missing who isn’t missing you is just going to be painful for you. Don’t get rid of them entirely – your photos still represent good memories, most likely – but don’t make them the first thing you see when you wake up.

At the end of my last relationship (which was incredibly toxic, but very long-term), I completely rearranged my bedroom. I didn’t want it to be associated with my ex anymore. She did leave permanent damage to the structure of the room (holes in the walls, a door that didn’t shut properly, etc.) but I rearranged my room in such a way that these negative reminders weren’t the first thing I saw upon waking up. I faced the bed in a different direction, and in front of it I placed a collage of some of my favorite things. There were friends, family members, and happy memories covering the wall.

This is so important, because of the principle of first impressions. We know that these impressions apply to people and places, but did you know that they factor into how your day goes, too? If you start your day off with negative thoughts, you’re more likely to have a bad day – but if you start the day with happy thoughts, you’re more likely to have a good day.

That’s not to say that getting over someone can ever be made easy. Especially if you were with the person for an incredibly long time, or if you have an attached personality, it can be very difficult to move on. But the more steps you take to make it easier on yourself, the higher the likelihood that it will go smoothly.


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Author

Barbara is a 26-year-old lesbian living in California with her partner (and their “fur babies” – an adorably chubby puppy named Porkchop and a ball python named Ru). In the spare time she pretends to have, she enjoys horror movies, music of all varieties, reading, and complaining about the weather.

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