When I was still in a monogamous relationship of two and lived with my partner, the question hardly occupied me. There was a bedroom and a living room. This did not leave much room to ask oneself whether one would not rather sleep alone the coming night. Sure, sometimes one person drove out of town and you had to sleep alone, but that had very little to do with the fact that you actively decided to spend the night alone.
When I was in a still monogamous relationship, but we had decided against living together, the question was more obvious and yet we slept together every night. Why? Because it just felt nicer next to each other instead of sleeping alone. We seldom felt the need not to be together. I don’t think we would have given ourselves the space to say if one of us would like to sleep alone. That wasn’t a question that was raised, maybe one that wasn’t really okay?
Since I have had poly relationships, I have also had other conversations about needs. I can’t say exactly what it is. Perhaps the fact that several people are involved and everyone tries to take each other into account by often talking about needs. Maybe it’s also because I don’t want to get back to the point where it’s okay to take things for granted and demand things from the other person every day, regardless of my poly-relationships. I think it can be both relieving and tiring to answer a seemingly small question every day: “Would you rather sleep alone today? Relieving, because every day I can decide for myself what feels good and nobody takes this decision away from me. Exhausting, because it is easy to do the same thing every day without having to ask yourself every day what you really want. I know both sides and I can understand both sides well.
The highlight of all this is that I very often come to the conclusion that I have no need to sleep alone. Since I am now with two people who regularly feel the need to be alone or sleep alone, I wonder why I much less often feel the need for it. Apart from the fact that it feels partly like a rejection when I realize that I would rather sleep together, the clearly more difficult part is questioning my own needs. Am I more dependent on them and don’t want to sleep alone? Do I have to want to? Is it weird that I don’t want to? Do you appreciate sleeping together more if you sleep alone regularly?
I don’t think I value it any less just because it happens so often, after all I choose it every day. I realize, however, that the break, even if I would not choose to be the one, contributes to the fact that I have the possibility of missing my partners. And sometimes I like to miss people because I then actively notice how much I actually like them. Through my relationships I also realize that I am a person who does not need much time alone. I like to take time for myself from time to time and enjoy it very much, but I don’t need it often, at least less often than my relationships. I would currently see myself on a “being alone” scale, where 1=I like to be alone most of the time and 10= I prefer to be around people most of the time, on a 6 or 7. Such scales sometimes help me a lot to put my own needs into words, especially when I can relate to other people and their needs. Sure, a number is pretty meaningless when it stands alone. But when you start talking about what actually stands behind them, they can be very meaningful.
Nowadays I am mostly (except in moments when I am questioning everything about myself anyway) convinced that it is perfectly okay to have different needs than my partners, as long as I can respect it and accept that my need not to sleep alone cannot be met every now and then. The question seems so small and yet it reflects so much for me; the way people talk about needs, what it actually means to spend time alone and whose needs can be met when. In the end, I believe that such small, everyday questions can give many indications of what is important in relationships and where one would locate oneself.