Dating, sex, love, basic human connection is hard, but we’ve got just the snack to help. Ask An Alfawhore, the sex and love advice column from the tell-it-to-ya-straight, sex-positive, uber feminist older sister you always wanted is back. This week: how to make quality alone time with your partner while living at home.
Dear Auntie Alfa,
My partner still lives at home with their parents. Right before the pandemic hit I had been living with them as a sort of transition before finding a new place. It was supposed to be temporary, but months passed, and well here we are — still living with the entire family. They are all great — don’t get me wrong — but sometimes I forget what life was like without splitting my every purchase a precisely even 7 ways. I love my partner and I love their family, but they are so close and share everything. I guess I’m wondering how to sustain an intimate relationship when there are just so many people around, everywhere, all the time. And I don’t even mean sex, I mean just like…alone time? Help!
Every relationship needs quality time. Whether that’s a coffee date with your best friend, a weekly Facetime call with your sister, or setting aside an hour after dinner for a walk with your partner — all relationships must be nurtured. Finding the time to nurture our relationships is challenging in the best of times. Throw 6 other people into the mix and add the pressure cooker of 2020…and woof. But my sweet FullHouse there are so many ways of getting the intimacy you need (sexually or otherwise) as long as you remember two of my favorite C words: communicate and commit.
Whenever family is involved there is a potential for things to be complicated. One of the wildest things about humankind is that despite our commonalities we were all raised differently. That means that families have different styles of communication, different levels of defined boundaries etc. With some families, a subtle look can hint at your desire to sip some wine on the terrace just the two of you and chau al resto de la familia. But with other families, you may need to shout it from the literal terrace rooftop in order for the message to be received.
Step one is to communicate with your partner first. Make sure that you are both on the same page about the quality intimate time you need, and what that looks like from each of your perspectives. Talking it through will allow you to express that to the rest of the family if needed, in whatever way makes the most sense for all of you (Hint: ask your partner who has lived with them their entire life as I’m sure they’ll have some ideas). Then make some plans for how the two of you will actually spend this time.
Brainstorm ways you can sneak in alone time around the house, even if that means locking yourselves in your bedroom for a few hours. Buy yourselves a nice bottle of wine or that overpriced chocolate bar and here’s a wild thought, don’t share it with the rest of the family. Consume it just the two of you and bask in the giddiness of your precious little secret.
Leave notes to each other when one of you is in the shower, that instructs an area of the house to come find you in, or to meet you outside as soon as they are dressed and take a walk around the neighborhood. Go to bed a few hours earlier than normal and use those extra hours to catch up on solo time in whatever form it calls you. Be creative and try things out to see what works, but don’t forget that other C.
Commit to your boundaries and to advocating for what you need. While I’m sure that your partner’s family is chill (cause like they’re letting you live with them) you don’t owe them 100% of your free time. And quite honestly they probably don’t want it. Give one another space and make sure you are internally checking in on yourself and your relationship and giving yourself the grace to adapt those needs as you see fit (and then, what will we do, say it with me: communicate them!!). Commit to making time for those small, special moments or it will be all too easy to stay in the family room sipping mate with the whole crew for the millionth time.
Remember that you aren’t leaving people out, or being selfish by finding time to be alone and commit to following through on what you know you need. And remember, I have all the faith that you can preserve the intimacy within that crowded house.
All my love,