In general, relationships with women follow a predictable path. After the initial excitement and sexual frisson of meeting them you will enter a period of dating, during which she will probably exert pressure on you to become exclusive (or you will desire this for yourself).
After a period of exclusivity, perhaps inevitably the question of living together will come up. For many guys, particularly those still in the throes of passion, sharing a home with a woman that they find attractive seems like a no-brainer. After all, why wouldn’t you want sex on tap, your meals cooked (if she has the requisite culinary skills) and the stability of a home with a woman with whom you share feelings?
However, received wisdom on men’s websites in the last few years has warned sternly against cohabiting, which after all is only really one step away from marriage, the thought of which can send men into paroxysms in these parts. But the truth is that unless you are able to negotiate some form of “together-but-seperate” style relationship, this is an issue that you are going to have to consider seriously at some point.
After all, as much as some may rail against long-term relationships, few of us seriously want to be the seventy-year old player still hitting on girls at the mall. And unless anyone can propose anything else that stands up to scrutiny, a stable family remains the best environment in which to raise children.
The big step
Nevertheless, living with a woman is a big step — so big that I’ve only really done once, and that was by accident. In my early twenties my girlfriend at the time (with whom I had a massive, oneitis-tinged obsession) was forced to leave her accommodation, allowing me to scoop her up, white knight-style, and let her live with me. Needless to say the experiment was a disaster and she moved out around ten months later.
Since then, I have kept my living quarters resolutely female-free, rarely allowing girls to stay over for more than a couple of nights at a time. Around me, friends have got married, spawned children and generally traversed what Saul Bellow calls the “axial lines of life” in The Adventures of Augie March.
The reasons that I haven’t done so are undoubtedly complex with deep psychological roots, but what it really comes down to is this: if you choose to live with a woman then you must recognise that even as you gain you will also lose much more than simply 50% of your living space. In the end this in an insoluble conundrum that each man must negotiate himself according to what he wants from life and his circumstances at the time.
I recently had a small experience of cohabiting that focused my thoughts anew on this topic. Regular readers of this column might remember an incident I related a few weeks back where I was effectively cock-blocked by Uber, messing up a sure-thing lay I had set up via daygame. Happily, there was a second act to this particular story.
I stayed in touch with Sandra, the Colombian girl from Paris and we arranged that she would return to London again a few weeks later. Due to a combination of events, and against my better judgement, I ended up agreeing that she could stay in my apartment for a week and that we would take a road trip to Brighton (a seaside resort near to London) for the weekend.
I have to report that I found the experience both good and bad, and while it was clearly only cohabiting on a micro scale it gave me some useful insights into the topic that I think can be usefully extrapolated. There may also be some handy pointers on Colombian girls here too, although I don’t want to set too much store on a sample size of one!
1. Living Together Means That You Will Rarely Be Entirely Alone
During my week of living with Sandra I rarely, if at all, entirely alone. I spent fractious days in the office arguing about the work minutiae with my colleagues only to leave to have to worry about what to get for dinner for my hungry guest. The only time I was left to myself was in the bathroom, and even then I was conscious that there was someone else there waiting for me, desirous of my attention.
The issue here is around psychological rather than physical space. I currently have a demanding dayjob and one of the ways in which I’m able to negotiate it successfully is by ensuring that I have sufficient time alone (or with a few close male buddies) to recharge my batteries. Having a girl hanging around the place suddenly meant that right from the moment I woke up to when I fell asleep I had no solo downtime at all.
Granted, this was a girl I’d just met off the street, so we hadn’t yet had time to develop the kind of nurturing bond that one (perhaps naively) would like to think is possible between partners. Still, my feeling is that it’s pretty exhausting for a guy to lose all of his time for mental recuperation at a stroke, and something to think very seriously about.
2. Sex Is Great, But It Gets Same-y Very Quickly
Yes, sex is awesome, particularly with a cute new girl you’ve met by chance in the street. However, as we all know sex gets tired pretty quickly. Here are some stats from the first few days of Sandra’s visit:
Night-Morning 1: Sex four times
Night-Morning 2: Sex two times
Night-Morning 3: A blowjob
Things picked up again after that, but you see my point. Growing familiarity coupled with tiredness and work stresses etc means that sex starts to fall off pretty quickly when you are sharing the same living space.
3. OK, She Says Can Cook . . . But Is She Any Good?
For most girls cooking is something of a lost art. Sandra made a great show of cooking me dinner one night. After we’d dragged around a supermarket for over an hour (when what I really wanted to do was just sit down with my usual chicken and vegetables) she spent something like an hour and a half in the kitchen only to emerge with a plate of salmon, brown rice and broccoli covered with a little shop-bought white sauce.
Now, don’t mean to sound ungrateful for the effort, and it was very nice as far as it went, but this was certainly not culinary valhalla and the man considering cohabitation might want to check his beloved’s skills before signing the joint lease.
4. Intimacy Can Be Really Nice . . .
However alpha the guy, there is undeniably something very appealing about coming home to a woman’s affection and actually, as she was understandably on her best behaviour for the trip there was something really nice about sitting down with Sandra and relaxing with her, watching TV and having her fawn over me.
However, it would be foolish to assume that such a state of affairs could last indefinitely. Women’s — and men’s — moods change, ill-feeling can arise and daily stresses and strains can contribute to unresolved resentments that lurk in a cauldron of negativity, poisoning the relationship. Be very careful.
5. But Your Independent Identity May Start to Be Eroded
During the week she was here, Sandra reorganised my bedroom and the kitchen. As the changes she made were universally positive, I had no complaints. However, if you live with a girl it’s important to recognise that your physical space will change and along with it — if you’re not vigilant about holding your frame — your mental space will too.
What I mean is that once a woman has entered your home then her nesting instinct will quite naturally kick in and she will (subconsciously) busy herself preparing it as a suitable venue in which to bring up young children. At the same time she will also subtly censure any behaviours you may have that don’t fit in with her grand plan.
A classic example of this is stopping a man going out with his male friends at the weekend. If you make too many concessions then you will find that you are in danger of disappearing entirely.
Of course, it’s easy to talk about maintaining the frame and not taking any shit in the comments section of a website, but in real life it requires constant vigilance, which is draining, and even the most alpha of guys has been known to let certain things slide for the sake of a quiet life.
I have to confess that when I waved Sandra off at the Eurostar as her trip was ending my heart sang a little. Finally, freedom to come and go as I pleased was to be mine again. That said, there is nothing wrong with choosing to live with a woman in the right circumstances.
After all, the traditional family unit has spawned great civilisations and is still at the centre of ours. It is just important that you go in knowing the risks and that you think long and hard — and get to know the woman in question as well as you can — before committing.