THE PARADOX OF INTIMACY

Lauren and Mike had been dating seriously for about nine months when they decided to move in together. Things had been going great. Like most couples, they’d enjoyed getting to know each other, taking short trips together, and meeting each other’s family and friends. Everything had been new, exciting, and fun, and since they were spending practically every night together and got along so well, moving in together made sense. Plus, it would help them each save on rent.

That’s when this new relationship got complicated. Mike soon realized he hardly had any time to himself, and he couldn’t have his friends over without first checking with Lauren. Suddenly Mike had to get up earlier in the morning because Lauren expected him to drive her to work. On top of that, Lauren’s family insisted on everyone getting together for dinner every Friday—Mike included. Over time, Mike is learning that living with Lauren means giving up some of his autonomy.

Lauren, too, felt she was giving up a lot. She felt she didn’t have enough time to focus on her work as a freelance graphic designer because Mike wanted her to be home when he got off work and expected her to attend sporting events together during the week. Lauren also felt pressured to spend time with Mike’s friends and was frustrated that she had to check with Mike before making plans of her own. They both were starting to feel the constraints, as well as the joys, of intimacy.

For the most part, people try to live up to their partner’s expectations and want to make their partners happy. But it’s not possible for anyone to please a romantic partner all of the time. You and your partner will disagree on almost anything at one time or another—such as financial decisions, how to spend the holidays, how and when to have sex, whom to socialize with, and how to raise kids—among many, many other things.

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