My partner and I have a pretty great relationship. We really don’t have any fights that are indicative of a fundamental issue. We don’t have trust issues. Neither of us is controlling. We’ve both healed ourselves from past wounds. We stand on pretty solid ground. But there is one thing that causes some pretty regular arguments, and it’s not something I can do much about: it’s my insomnia. Dating and being in a relationship as an insomniac isn’t easy. It would have been easier, honestly, if I’d fallen in love with a fellow insomniac. But instead I’m in love with a man who passes out around the same, decent hour each night. He is out the second his head hits the pillow. I don’t understand it. And he doesn’t understand me. If you’re an insomniac too, then you know it makes dating and relationships hard in these ways.
You can’t do those weekend brunches
When one of our friends plans an all-day extravaganza like brunch, then beach, then bar, I can hop on maybe during the beach part. Probably just the bar. I’m not getting up at 9am on a Sunday to go to brunch. So, my boyfriend has to go stag to the earlier social plans, which I know makes him a bit sad.
In fact, you get upset over early plans
I actually get annoyed with my partner if he RSVPs for me for an early plan. If he tells people we will both be at their 11am brunch, I get angry with him. He doesn’t think it’s a huge deal. It’s not that early he’ll say. But he doesn’t understand my struggle. He should never tell anyone I’ll be somewhere in the AM without consulting me.
You stress over alarm clocks, and blame him
Just knowing that my partner has an alarm clock set for the morning stresses me out. That knowledge stresses me out. I spend the whole night sitting up thinking, “I better fall asleep soon because that alarm is going off in X amount of hours.”
You hate when guests visit
I don’t love having guests visit—the kind that arrive with suitcases and stay in the guest room for days. As an insomniac, having overnight guests is stressful. They wake you up in the morning wandering around, trying to find cereal and coffee. You feel like they think you’re a bad host if you sleep in late (not knowing you didn’t fall asleep until 4am).
Your partner has to play host
When we do have guests, my partner winds up having to take over hosting duties. He’s the one who is up early, so he’s making our guests coffee, showing them where the guest towels are, and entertaining them while I sleep. I can tell he resents me for that—just a little.
When it’s fresh, you want to sleep at your own place
Before we lived together, I really just wanted to sleep at my own place after date nights. In other words, after sex, I’d want to go home, which didn’t send the greatest signal. But I had a tough enough time sleeping at home—sleeping at someone else’s place was even worse. I felt weird staying up all night at someone else’s home.
When you live together, you sleep in another room
Now that we live together, we often sleep in different rooms. Having a second bedroom is great for my insomnia but, naturally, sleeping separately isn’t as great for our bond as sleeping together would be.
You’re grouchy during the day
I can be a bit grouchy when I haven’t slept well. My partner has to deal with my insomnia-induced bad moods often. When we lived separately, I could shield him from those but now he is subjected to my grumpy demeanor.
If he wakes you it’s a huge deal
Nobody likes to be woken up, but if you’re an insomniac who manages to fall asleep and somebody wakes you up, you see red. If my partner wakes me up, I can be angry with him for days. All he did was accidentally close a cabinet too loudly.
You sit out plans if you didn’t sleep
I also often bail on plans at the last minute because I couldn’t sleep the night before. Sometimes, those plans are big, like a baby shower or friend’s birthday party. But I can’t make it through these on no sleep. However, that makes me look like a bad girlfriend and friend.
His friends think you’re a bad sport
Speaking of looking like a bad girlfriend, since I do sit out a lot of plans due to total exhaustion, my partner’s friends can think I’m just a bad sport. They think I don’t like to hang out, or don’t want to get to know them.
He thinks you’re (kind of) making it up
People who aren’t insomniacs tend to think, on some level, that insomnia is made up. They think we’re just being dramatic or difficult. Sometimes my partner says, “Just take some melatonin!” He doesn’t realize that doesn’t help me.
You resent him (kind of) for sleeping
I kind of resent my partner for sleeping. I just sit up, wide awake, and see him over there sleeping like a baby. I think, “Look at him. Son of a b*tch. Just sleeping without a care in the world. Wonder what that must be like!”
You can barely share meals
When my insomnia gets bad, my meal times are all over the place. I don’t want to have dinner with my partner at 6—I had lunch at 5. He’s getting up for breakfast as I’m finally going to sleep. We don’t break bread together often.
He thinks the room always looks messy
The bed isn’t made often since our sleep schedules are so different. He’ll get up at 7am. I’ll need to sleep a few more hours. I won’t make the bed because I know I’m going to nap at 5pm. There are clothes all over the floor because I get undressed for bed at odd hours.