Polyamory Sleeping Arrangements

Some fairly major changes here. Revised to include separate sections for solo, couple, and group living, and get away from the previous focus on group living. Actually, most of this is excepted from an early draft of The Polyamorous Home. Updated 11/25/16

On the surface, this is more for the polycules who live together. However, solo polyam folk and couples who live together and have other partners who visit also sometimes need to worry about who sleeps where. Michael and I live as a couple. Almost every time one of my metamours visits they ask if I mind them sleeping with Michael and insist they’ll be ok on the couch. (Usually, I end up taking the couch.) We’ve tried all of us sleeping together with some metamours, but we don’t have a big enough bed (especially for when I was pregnant!). So, yeah, unless you never sleep over, chances are you’ll need to work out sleeping arrangements.

Here are the pros and cons of a few possible sleeping arrangements for polyamorous relationships. If you have experience with possibilities that I miss or some pros and cons of your own you’d like to add, please leave a comment.

polyamory sleeping arrangements

Plenty of room for any size polycule to have individual rooms!

Solo Living

One Bedroom Shared with Guests
If you and your partners are comfortable with it, you can have one bed that visiting partners share with you. Depending on your comfort levels and needs for personal space, you can have partners spend the night. Alternatively, you can use the bed for cuddles and/or sex with your partners going home at the end of the night.
Having just one bedroom is cheaper than paying for a home with two bedrooms, but may not be comfortable for everyone.

One bedroom, with a couch or blow up mattress
You might be comfortable sharing your bed for sex and/or cuddles, but want space when you sleep. Or you might prefer not to share your bed at all. You have options for a partner spending the night, even if your home only has one bedroom. Your partners can sleep on a pullout couch, blow up mattress, or other temporary sleep spot.

Guest Bedroom
If you can afford it, a second bedroom is another option. You might use your bed for cuddles and/or sex. At night, your partners can sleep in the guest room. Or your bedroom might be just for you and physical intimacy stays in the guest room.
Having a second bedroom is more expensive, which means it won’t work for everyone.

Couple Living

Shared bed and bedroom with family
Unless there are laws against it (and some places there are) you and any other family members (kids, your sister-in-law, your mother…) who live with you can share a bedroom, even the same bed. The general reaction from my US readers is going to be “OMG, what!” However, it was pretty common in Europe and the US a few hundred years ago. It is still normal in some parts of the world. Partly because not everyone can afford separate bedrooms (or beds) for everyone, partly because it is easier to keep warm in the winter when you were sharing body heat. The modern Western obsession with privacy is just that—modern and Western.

Shared bed and bedroom
The couple to share a bed and bedroom. Other family members (if any) have their own room(s). This is the default in most parts of the US

Shared bedroom, separate beds
Why not? It isn’t common, and it sounds like something out of “I Love Lucy,” but the for some couples separate beds just make sense. No one can steal the covers and a restless sleeper isn’t keeping their partner awake. Maybe someone has medical equipment they need to sleep with. Separate beds aren’t as physically intimate as a shared bed, but you can still fall asleep listening to each other breathe. Bonus: having a visiting polyam partner spend the night in your bed won’t mean kicking your partner out of their bed.

Separate bedrooms
Not an option for everyone if only because of the increased the cost. However, some couples have found it suits them to keep separate bedrooms and only sleep together occasionally. This is actually increasingly common among some monogamous couples. Polyam folk who advocate for this arrangement say your sleep is healthier and less disrupted, and the times you cherished the times you sleep together because they are intentional.

Group Living

Individual Bedrooms
Just what it says—everyone has their own bedroom.
Pros: No worries about how to rearrange things if a metamour comes over. Privacy. Extra space. Flexibility.
Cons: Increased cost of living. Less communal space. For large group marriages, it will be hard to find a place with enough bedrooms.

Master Bedroom
Every adult in the family shares one bedroom and (possibly) one bed. With standard-sized bedrooms in the US, this can work comfortably for a triad and be a squeeze for a quad. I’ve seen bedrooms (and beds) that would fit larger groups comfortably, but that aren’t easy to find or in most peoples’ budgets.
Pros: Shared bedroom=relationship bonding. Lower cost of living than other options.
Cons: Lack of closet/dresser space, crowded bed, NO privacy, lots of people on the couch/floor/recliner if a non-resident poly partner comes over.

Master Bedroom and Guest Bedroom
Of course, if you have more than one bedroom in your home, you can always make one the master bedroom and one the guest room. This way, there is a place for people to go if they need a night on their own once in a while. As well as a place for non-resident polyam partners and resident polyam partners to hook up without displacing the rest of the family.
Pros: No worries about how to rearrange things if a metamour comes over. Extra storage/closet space.
Cons: Increased cost of living.

Couple Bedrooms
Whether or not your family group is made up of distinct couples, you can set up your bedrooms to be shared by two people in your family. In the US, most bedrooms are built with the expectation that one or two people will use them. So this works better space-wise that everyone sharing one room. It’s also less expensive than getting a place big enough for everyone to have their own room.
Pros: Enough closet/dresser space for everyone. Reasonable cost of living. Some privacy. Only one person on the couch if a non-resident polyam partner comes over.
Cons: Need to rearrange everyone if want to swap partners for a night. Possible jealousies or perception of favorites. Lack of flexibility.

Two Bedrooms, “Hinge” Moving Back and Forth
This arrangement is difficult to make work. It takes a lot of communication and one or more family members who are comfortable not having their “own” bedroom space.
Pros: Plenty of room. Some privacy. Flexibility. Less likely someone needs to find a couch if a non-resident poly partner spends the night.
Cons: Higher cost of living then sharing a room. Possibility of jealousy/tension/perception of favorites.

Sleeping Bedroom and Stuff Bedroom
This idea comes from my friend Lauren. When she first suggested I didn’t know anyone who had tried it. Since then I’ve heard from a few people who say it has worked really well for their polycule.
Two bedrooms — one is a pure sleeping room, with king size bed, piles of futons on the floor, whatever sleeping set up you need to fit everyone comfortably. And nothing in it but the bed. In the other put everyone’s dressers, most of the hanging clothes, and any other furniture you’d normally put in a bedroom. If you have a third bedroom, set it up as an office, with everyone’s computer/desk setup.
Pros: Lots of cuddle time, room enough for everyone (at least up to 4 or 5 spice, anyway), reasonable cost of living.
Cons: No privacy, there might not be a big enough (and affordable) bed.

Mix and Match
Maybe one member of your family just needs to sleep alone for whatever reason, but everyone else is cuddle bugs. Well, that one person can have their own room while the rest of you have a big shared room. Maybe you like the idea of Sleeping and Stuff bedrooms, but also want a guest room for when people visit. Pick and choose what works for you a la carte as it were.

There are other options out there, but this covers the basic sleeping arrangements for polyam folk.

Looking for more ideas and info on polyam living arrangements? Check out The Polyamorous Home.

13 responses to “Polyamory Sleeping Arrangements

  1. I live in a V relationship with two bedrooms, and we seem to have adjusted things to make it work. It’s not perfect, but it is working, though I’d say it’s still a work in progress right now.

    My metamour (Lora) strongly needs a private room with a door to call her own. When we first lived together, the way we set up our rooms was that we had a communical bedroom and a spare bedroom. Lora’s private room was also the communal bedroom, because we weren’t able to find a place where there was another small, private room that should could have as her own room (next time, we’re looking for one. Lora has said that it could be a glorified closet and it would still work for her).

    Jon, Lora and I all slept together in the communal room (has a king bed). Lora & Jon slept in the communal room together on their nights; Jon and I slept together in the spare room on our nights.

    It felt bad to me, because the communal room swiftly felt like Jon and Lora’s room, and the spare bedroom felt like it was just my bedroom. It wasn’t helped by the fact that Lora and Jon had moved in with me, and the spare bedroom had always been my bedroom. So even though we did redorate it a bit, and had stuff of mine in the communal room and stuff of Lora’s in the spare room, it still felt like the communal room was Jon and Lora’s, and the spare bedroom was mine.

    So we changed it around – and totally repainted/rearranged both rooms (so that my furniture and Jon/Lora’s furniture is more evenly mixed between rooms) The spare bedroom is now Lora’s private room. The communal room has most of my stuff in it, though we’re still keeping our stuff spread between rooms.

    Because it’s starting to feel a bit like the same problem in reverse (though Lora doesn’t feel nearly as troubled about it as I did, because it’s really important to her that she has a private room, and feeling secure in that room helps her overall feelings), we’re going to do a few more things, like add a little reading corner in the communal room for her. I’m going to be writing a blog post about that soon.

    In an idea world, if we could afford it, having 3 bedrooms (or 2 bedrooms and a closet-sized room for Lora’s private room), would be ideal. If not, it seems like this one still has the potential to work. I think a lot of it depends on how people feel about their bedrooms and uses for them. Jon spends a lot of his private time in the communal bedroom. I spend some of my private time in the communal bedroom and some in other parts of the home. Lora spends all her private time in the spare bedroom. Lora and Jon spend most of their time together in the spare bedroom. Jon and I spend some private time together in the communal bedroom and some time in the rest of our home. If we add a chair for Lora in the communal bedroom, so that she and Jon can spend some time there, I think that will go a long way in making the communal bedroom really feel communal to her, and help the current living configuration work out.

    In this scenerio, if Lora or I were to bring home another partner, we clearly have marked out which room we would use. If Jon brought home another partner…I’m really not sure. Lora, Jon and I do sleep together 3-4 nights a week (and I regularly share a bed with friends who sleep over), so I think we’d both be OK sleeping together so that Jon could sleep with a partner. I assume we’d be in Lora’s room, because I thinkg Lora would feel it a huge invasion of her privacy if Jon and another person slept in that room. I know I’d be fine with Jon sleeping with another partner in the communal room. As it hasn’t happened yet though, I’m not sure what Lora’s thoughts on it would be – or on if Jon and I slept with another person in the communal room (Jon and I have a friend who lives abroad. We’re all mututally attracted to each other and spent an evening together before Jon, Lora, and I started living together).

    We’ll see as things like that unfold and hopefully I’ll have some good updates soon!

    • Sounds like you are making good progress in finding a set up that works for you. I think it’s really great that you and Jon recognized and worked with Lora to make sure she has the personal space she needs. My one thought is that if you know now that Jon bringing someone over is a potential problem, you should probably discuss how to handle it and how all of you feel about options now, before it becomes an issue, rather than waiting until the last minute.

      Looking forward to your next blog post!

  2. We do the two bedrooms and the hinge moving back and forth thing. The reason for this is we are the only partners involved, so there is no need for extra partners sleeping elsewhere, and the occational guests can sleep over in the living room which has a spacious sofa and its own door that locks. I don’t mind switching bedrooms, and there is enough space (living room, balcony, kitchen) to be if someone absolutely needs to be alone. The place started off as me and Leo’s flat, but we had not lived there that long (bought it after having dated Ned two years) and we always had in mind where Ned’s bedroom might be, and what used to be mine and Leo’s bedroom is now Leo’s bedroom. We had a similar regime when we visited Ned’s appartment. I really don’t see it as the boys’ rooms, I see it as me getting two bedrooms….so I am actually better off, in a sense. I keep my stuff in both places. All the clutter in both bedrooms is mine! I even have more stuff in the bathroom…

    In an ideal world, we would have a study room and a nursery, and two full baths (we have now at least a seperate bathroom and toilet). Apart from that, both Leo and Ned have some experience in living with me on their own, and to some extent really love that privacy – not as in they want to be alone, but privacy with me – which we try to resemble sometimes when one of the boys are working so the couple is “home alone” rather than going out, and by some use of hotels and one-on-one holiday time. But both the boys really like hanging out with each other, too. If one or two of us is entertaining guests and the other(s) is not up for it or don’t share the friends, both the boys have a bedroom to retreat to, and if I am the one retreating I can choose which bedroom I want. I am curious how things will pan out as we have kids, but I imagine it will be pretty similar exept the “home alone” feeling with rather fade until they get older.

    • Thanks for sharing Mary! Sounds like you have a great set up that works really well for you.

      I love this:
      “I really don’t see it as the boys’ rooms, I see it as me getting two bedrooms….”

      I know I wouldn’t mind having two bedrooms to call mine!

  3. I’m in a triad and for the first year of our relationship, we slept in the “hinged” typed bedrooms. My wife and I brought our boyfriend into our relationship and set him up a second bedroom. We would take turns sleeping with one another, with the third person sleeping in our boyfriend’s bedroom, and for a while, it worked out, but our boyfriend was lonely and couldn’t sleep on the nights when he slept alone in his bedroom. So we ended up bringing his bed into our room and now we are all happily sleeping together. I’m still a little put off at the different sizes and heights of the beds pressed together (not to mention getting out of the middle or the bed against the wall is a bit of a pain), but I’m a lot more comfortable with it than before.

    We’re really hoping to go back to having two bedrooms again, one with a huge bed and a television, and the other for clothing and bedroom furniture. It’ll be some time before we can afford it, but it’s in the planning books.

    • I’m with you on getting out of bed from the middle or against the wall. Only bad part apart a group bed, IMO.

      Thanks for sharing your experience, and good luck getting your second bedroom! Sounds like it will be a great set up.

  4. We have a two bedroom place (NYC economics and real estate being what they are) and it seems to work out well for us. My wife has her own room and privacy which she needs, and our boyfriend Mark and I are in the same room. Luckily him and I have a lot in common and get along well so being in the same room is not a problem for us.

    The rest of the house is totally communal except for my office which is really a necessity since I do a lot of work from home.

  5. We just bought our house last year and all moved in together. The 2 men share the master bedroom together. I sleep in the second bedroom by myself because, as a girl, I have more stuff, prefer my own bathroom, and like to have my private space. We have a third bedroom set up just for sex. We have a red light/green light system. Every morning, we put up a color on the bedroom door: red – opting out, yellow – feel like a cuddle, not sure if it will be more, green – I want to have sex. Then, in the evening, we meet up in the 3rd bedroom. Sometimes on the weekends, I will cuddle with my guys in their room and sometimes sleep in their bed. However, we try to keep anything more than that in the 3rd bedroom.

  6. My husband, his other wife, and I (her and I are both married to him) all sleep in the same bed (King sized). The bed is currently placed in one room by itself and our dressers are in an adjoining room. He sleeps in the middle, and her and I don’t find each other attractive. We each get our own private time with him in the bedroom, whether it be while the other is at work or babysitting the 5 year old during the weekends. It has taken a bit to figure this out, as we have had only one room for the bed and dressers but we have made it work. Her and I don’t ever have anyone extra come over, only him. When he does, tho, both of us girls leave and let him have private time with the girl he has over.

  7. We are currently having the hinged system and I hate it. I miss sleeping with my husband and i never really liked the nights alone. It’s like we have shared custody of him and we are constantly ‘counting’ how many nights we each have with him. It’s a disaster but girlfriend doesn’t want to share a room.

    • That’s rough! Hard to find a good answer when people’s needs conflict.

      Have you talked about why she doesn’t want to share a room? If she isn’t comfortable sharing a bed, there isn’t much you can do. But if she wants her own room that she can retreat to/keep her stuff in, but is okay sharing a bed, you might be able to find a compromise.

  8. We were in a poly triad for almost 40 years. Luckily I could afford a 4 bedroom home so we each had our own bedroom. The 4th bedroom had two desks in it because both my wife and I worked from home. There was also a nice sized den so if one or two of us wanted to watch a different TV show, they could do so while the other used the other room.

    My wife recently remarked that she cannot recall even one incidence where we had an argument with our girlfriend. She was the perfect girlfriend who respected our marriage as the primary one without being told. She made sure that whatever she did with me was OK with my wife despite my wife telling her anything goes. Best of all, she was a great lover but someone I would never leave my wife for since she refused to adopt the traditional wife role. My wife was her wife too. She never once cooked or cleaned in all that time, not once. So it worked out well.

  9. I ended up buying a 4 bedroom home. My wife, our shared girlfriend and I each had our own bedroom which we individually decorated. The fourth bedroom had three desks in it with 3 computers. Our girlfriend lived with us for 7 years full time. After she got married she split her time between us and her marriage. She wanted to keep them separate and she successfully did. Our house had two living rooms so there was plenty of room for each of us even if we all wanted to watch different TV shows. I set up a home theater before people heard of them and we would watch movies together.

    It worked out well for 30 years. My wife remarked recently that we never even had an argument with our girlfriend. All three of us are easy going people willing to compromise. We were also all in love with each other so we made it work for us. A large home with separate rooms gave each of us our own space. We never kept track of who slept with who and how many times. We were all free to have sex with all or one of the others. With two living rooms the girls could cuddle up and watch a romantic movie while I watched an action one. We also had a big yard and kitchen. No one felt crowded or lacked space to be alone.

    We first tried it with three bedrooms but that meant that one of us had to sleep in a bedroom/office with a fold out bed or futon. Also meant seeing all the flashing lights on the computers and hardware. 4 bedrooms was our bed solution.

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