Today marks R and I’s fourth year together. We started off as a long-distance couple, then two years ago, he decided to move to the Philippines.
People are still scratching their heads as to why we don’t share a home. The question makes perfect sense since we travel and make major decisions together. So, why are we still living apart?
Why make this decision?
(Note: Let’s not talk about this issue with any religion in mind. This decision does not have anything to do with it.)
Before I go any further, let me tell you that I don’t mind my partner seeing my booger in the morning, or farting in front of him, or having to tell him that I need to spend quiet times alone. Let’s go beyond these surface-y stuff grounded on immaturity that magazine articles will tell you as to why couples choose to live apart.
It’s difficult to explain everything in speech. So, if you happen to be my relative or friend who keeps on bugging me as to why I made the decision, here are my reasons:
1. Establishing financial independence is important
Many people tell me that they choose to live with their partner to save money.
I find this reasoning very wrong on many accounts. For one, why would you have to rely on someone else to fill in the funding for your life? Secondly, why wouldn’t you want to reach a level of financial independence where you know you can stand on your own without someone backing you up?
Reaching that level is essential to me, and while I can say that R and I are now at this stage, we want to keep on saving until we are truly ready to share a home and to compromise on each other’s interests. For example, I like hiking, and R likes gaming. So, when we live together, R would have to agree to come on a hike with me, while I would have to agree with him purchasing gaming upgrades.
When I think about it, having these two interests together under one roof can be expensive. Instead of just thinking of myself, I also have to think of my partner, and then I have to learn to give, as well, to share with my partner’s interests. The art of giving and receiving can both be rewarding and costly emotionally, mentally, and financially, and so being sufficient with myself is important.
Right now, I am living with my parents, and I get to live alone when I’m on field assignments, or when I choose to spend some time alone elsewhere. R, on the other hand, is living with his grandparents and goes bird hunting (SAD!) and night hangouts with his uncles and cousins, and plays online games whenever he’s free from work. We call and message each other throughout the day, and meet every chance we get. We get to spend time with our families, and most of all, we get to save by living at home.
2. Why should I?
Why would I want to share my personal space with someone else this early in the relationship? Four years is anything but a number, and it shouldn’t have anything to do with how we, as a couple, should make a decision.
At this point, I don’t find an incentive to want to live with my boyfriend. Other than having lots of couple time, that’s only one aspect of the relationship, anyway. We’ve come to a mutual decision that while living apart, we will allow the other aspects of our relationship to grow.
R’s surprise dinner for our monthsary: complete with my favorite white wine and “brownout” candles!
Every chance we get, R and I make plans to see each other. It is like going on dates all the time. We dress up and strive to look good for each other on these dates. After four years, going out is still incredibly exciting!
3. I found my boyfriend complementing my personality
You know that common phrase where couples say, “We fit together like pieces of the puzzle?” It’s cheesy, yes, but I found that my boyfriend did just that. He complements my personality perfectly. When I am being my usual loner self, he would stand up and answer the phone for me. When he likes to splurge on things, I would remind him to be mindful. It makes perfect sense to live together with someone who’s a perfect fit for me, right?
Truth is, I got seriously scared when I realized this dynamic unfolding. It made me question, “Why?” I wanted to see for myself why and how R was complementing my personality, and what I can do to fill in those empty spots.
I know that every time R fits in my puzzle, I must look within as to why he has to do that job for me. Before I get to share the rest of my life with someone else, I must be sufficient within to do that.
There is no rush. Heck, if everything works out, we’re going to spend our future together, anyway. We will share a home every day, and every minute of our lives. So, why would I want to rush the process and show myself up for the next step prematurely?
The thing with many people is they associate “maturity” with “living apart.” But isn’t it more immature to do something, thinking it’s okay, just because everyone else is doing it? I get to meet people who choose to live alone and are (super) proud of what they are doing. They have this air around them with a sort of invisible tag on their foreheads that say, “I’m better than you are.” I just find it funny. Why is there a need for anyone to prove something?
People have different reasons as to why they choose to live apart, but I think what sets apart the mature decision-makers is they know exactly why they want to do it, without finding the need to prove their decision.
Not living with my boyfriend does not make me love my partner any less. By staying apart, we are helping our relationship grow without having to resort to physicality to patch things up. Although sometimes we go to bed without sorting things out, we talk, talk, and talk until we again go through another learning curve.
I know I’m lucky to have a partner who is also more than willing to explore the “Why” with me. And I know I’m lucky that I– we– get to choose when and how we want to be in it for the long haul.