As we get older and have experienced relationships and the sad breakup of relationships and divorce, our approach to new relationships requires a new approach. After a period of living single and living on our own, we become attached to habits and our personal living space. Sharing space with a relatively new person in our lives is fraught with potential perils. A minor change such as adjusting the thermostat can become too easily become a source of ugly conflict in a new living-together situation.
A relationship trend surfaced in the mainstream media back in 2011. It was a realistic response to the problems of living together. It’s called the “stayover relationship”. Here are some links via Google for your enjoyment and further research.
Standard caveat: I normally don’t write about relationships that have transitioned into the exclusive, committed phase. But the stayover needs special consideration. I was going to describe it during my interview with Goldmund but technical difficulties ended the last segment of the interview early. One of my Twitter followers who heard that interview then asked that I describe this type of relationship in more detail.
The media sources I listed in the Google search attributes the stayover relationship to the low-commitment arrangements of the young – 20-somethings wanting to pair up but not cleve to each other through living together or marriage. As my readers know, I usually don’t wallow in the muddy waters of youthful dating and relationships
I am not so short-sided as to eschew all that is the realm of young adulthood. Those wacky millennials might have something good going on if applied to us middle-age gangsters. The youngsters might have a looser type of relationship in mind but their logistical arrangements can apply to an older demographic with a more committed relationship in mind. This stayover relationship can work for the average age of my readers.
The primary reason that the stayover relationship can work for our age is that we don’t have to foist well-ingrained habits on each other. When living together, the minutae of life takes on hugely disproportionately importance. Toilet seat up, toilet down…mail placed in a different place…pay bills immediately or wait until the last minute…dishes wait for cleaning or scrub them up immediately. You get the idea. It all seems so trivial but it’s not for many of us because we become as attached to our habits as we do to another person. Adjusting habits can lead to ugly resentment and the eventual end to the relationship.
The logistics of the stayover relationship are fairly easy. Each person maintains their own respective living space and takes turns staying at the other person’s place. The assumption is that the two are emotionally committed to each other in an exclusive, intimate, and long term relationship.
Sometimes the rationale for living together is to cut costs. This might involve selling previous properties and purchasing a new one, jointly. This simply raises the complication factor for the couple and with complications come conflicts. Image two middle age people trying to compromise on making a major real estate purchase. The alternative to this is for the two to individually downsize on their existing living arrangements so that each can economize on living expenses. Of course, this works best when kids are grown and out of the house.
Another benefit of the stayover relationship is that it allows each person to have very valuable alone time. When you read the last paragraph you’ll understand why alone time is vital. Lest my readers think I’m niave, I know the realities of attraction and dating. The high value man might have a soft harem and the woman is often casting her eye towards a man who could be a bigger better deal. This reality certainly complicates the concept of alone time in the context of the stayover relationship.
There might be a fix to that complication. Some years after my mother died of cancer (I was 21 at the time), my step-father met and fell in love with a lovely woman named Judy. The two were clearly in a serious relationship and very much committed to each other. By the way, my step-father, despite being short and kind of pudgy, was quite the charismatic playboy before meeting Judy. Rather than get married, they elected to have a “commitment ceremony” to show the world what they meant to each other. In full disclosure, Judy would have lost her lifetime alimony if she had married to my step-father. Also, they bought a place together and moved in. But I think they had the right idea with that commitment ceremony.
With age comes many physical and emotional complications. Everyone who reaches a certain point in life has accumulated experiences. Those experiences cannot be erased. If such experiences can’t be resolved in a healthy emotional way, they become into emotional baggage. Here is the reality, everyone has baggage to a certain degree. The stayover relationship can be a way for us to cope with such baggage as best we can while still having a committed relationship.