Thursday 21 September 2017

Living alone is the best way to stay together

Being in love yet residing apart is the fantasy of John Masterson -- although he'll make do with just two bathrooms

John Masterson

WHEN I was in college, living together, or living in sin as it was often referred to, was considered very cool. It was streets ahead of having a girlfriend. Very grown-up indeed.

Those of us who had not been lucky enough to make the leap imagined nights of endless sex, the joys of taking showers and baths together, of her never being more than four feet away and always ready for a spot of affection. Living together was like one eternal weekend away, and some of us hadn't even done a weekend away.

These people were sleeping like spoons. They were taking turns to get up first and bring the coffee back to bed. On Sundays, after leisurely love-making, one got the papers while the other prepared a full Irish, and they retreated to the bed for hours with the radio on in the background.

Clearly, my fantasies were skewed in a positive direction. They never included hours waiting to get into the bathroom, her being an untidy slob with clothes strewn everywhere, missing that anticipation of wondering what she would be wearing when you arrived at her door, the delight at seeing her after a few days' gap, or when she appeared only in a tracksuit. And they certainly never included getting fed-up to the back teeth with the sight of each other.

Over the years, I became aware of couples who are very much couples but who choose to live apart. Whenever I see such people interviewed, I notice I read particularly carefully. As a fully paid-up lifetime member of the selfish b****** club, I find the idea very appealing. I particularly liked one couple I came across who bought two adjoining houses and modified them so that they joined with a "his" area, a "hers" area and a "common" area, which was the part each could use without invitation. It certainly made "my place or yours" a lot easier, particularly as there was always the compromise of the couch in the common area. I am sure it must have been a pull-out bed.

Time progressed, and many of my contemporaries moved from living in sin to marriage and children. As they raised families, their sinning was reduced to drinking too much occasionally. Thankfully, most stayed happily married. Some stayed less happily married, and a few decided that a return to single life was preferable.

It does strike me as intriguing that I have never heard any of the many women I know who are raising children on their own bemoan the lack of an in-house man. Rather the opposite. If they need someone to put up shelves -- not that any of them would not be able to do it themselves -- they ring me.

I spoke to a woman some years back who was dreading her husband retiring. "He will start to think he really lives here," she said. "He will interfere non stop." Thankfully, the recession has kept him in the workforce while she adjusts.

I think there is a third stage in life, when sharing living space with a loved one is that bit too close for many people. I suspect many bought unnecessary holiday homes to have a bolt-hole.

Consider this. In love and living apart. Peace and quiet. Restaurants and films that feel like dates. Overnights in hotels. Occasional sleepovers, which would be very exciting. Three-week holidays to keep the intimacy nurtured. After six months of that, I would anticipate amazing sentences like: "Can I caddy for you?"

Dream on, JM. At the very least, two bathrooms are a must. And a den where I could have my gizmos and laze around without having a shower. With my luck, that would prove attractive and I couldn't keep her out of the place.

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