The Wall Street Journal ran an article about why we fall in love with one person and not another. The scientific theory was based on whether you were a testosterone or dopamine or estrogen or serotonin type. This involved brain scans, surveys, and lab coats.
I think this is very complicated neuroscience when really it boils down to one thing. Are you a right side of the bed sleeper or the left side? In this case, opposites attract. I am a right-side sleeper and with another right-side sleeper he will end up cuddling me until I pretty much fall out of bed and in a grumpy, sleepy huff, trudge around the bed to go to sleep unhappily on the left side. If you have two right side or left side sleepers, this can leave valuable Hamptons real estate unused and also lead to uneven mattress indentation that will send you to the chiropractor faster than you can say sacroiliac.
In the search for love, I can find that perfect man who is witty and generous and thinks my “Little Rabbit Foo Foo” joke is adorable. Then, when I see the “Kama Sutra” and kombucha on his bedside table think, “This is fantastic!” There’s the faint scent of Paco Rabanne cologne (OK, I can’t have totally high standards in a place where men get arrested for DWI on their lawn mowers). But then it hits me. It’s the right side of the bed night stand. But no, the right side is my side! This will never work.
This is a more common problem than you think. Couples therapists will ask if there is a problem in the bedroom and you say, “Yes! I mean, the sex is great, but the snoring, TV blaring, restless leg syndrome that feels like the cast of ‘Dancing With The Stars’ are in bed with us is ruining the relationship.”
You wonder how your parents slept for 50 years in a double bed with an afghan without killing each other.
I once went to a party at the Versace mansion in Miami, and in Donatella’s bedroom, she had the most enormous bed I have ever seen. I swear each side was so far apart it was in a different zip code. It was so big you could have Trump and Pelosi in the same bed without any conflict. Sorry . . . please erase that image from your head.
The good news about sleeping with your beloved is that it does produce oxytocin, not to be confused with oxycodone. But for that feel-good chemical to course through your body, there must first be negotiations more complicated than the Paris Climate Accord. Temperature is key, whether you prefer it cold enough for cadavers or warm enough to imagine you are naked on a beach in St. Barth. How you feel about dogs or truffle popcorn in the bed are other major sticking points.
And also, the all-important chronotype. That is a fancy way of saying if you are naturally an early bird or night owl. Maybe binge watch “Call the Midwife” or “Morning Joe” in the other room.
The importance of a good night’s sleep to mental, physical, and relationship health can lead to, “Forever, for worse, and separate bedrooms.” For some couples this leads to a happy marriage. For others it may be a slippery slope to further estrangement symptomatic of things other than sleep apnea. It’s not your brain but your relationship which is deprived of oxygen.
Maybe as with all things far right and far left there is some common ground in the middle of the bed. Respect each other’s personal space, a time for sweet spooning and (best Greta Garbo impression) “I want to be left alone.” And on that first date before you ask, “What’s your sign?” ask, “So which side of the bed do you sleep on?”