Why you should never share an office with your partner

I met my partner in graduate school. When I think about how traumatic graduate school was, I often remind myself that I would have never met my partner (nor my best friend) if I had chosen another path. I mean, maybe I would have found another partner (or another best friend) but I think I found a pretty awesome one. I’m pretty content in my choice. I waited a hell of a long time to be in a relationship, and I’m lucky to have a partner as supportive, considerate, fun, and intelligent as my partner.

With all of that said, I HATE SHARING AN OFFICE WITH HIM. This is not a closely guarded secret. Many of our friends know that I find that constant togetherness to be stifling, but I don’t believe I’ve ever outright said it to my partner.

For many years we did not share an office. We worked on different floors of the same building, which provided the perfect balance of accessibility and distance. I worked on the third floor, and he worked on the second. If he had a meeting with his advisor, he could stop by my office. If I felt like taking a break, I could walk downstairs and hang out with him. Even when he got a fellowship this past year and moved to another building, my graduate assistantship for the year was located in that same building. The move was not coordinated, but it was convenient.

This summer though, he has been between offices – he no longer has the fellowship office, but his old spot was also given away. So when I was asked by the department administrator if he could occupy my office for the summer, primarily so the students for his summer course had a place to find him, I said fine. How bad could it be?

IT’S BAD.

I love my partner dearly, but I love my space more. I have a complicated relationship with my office. I’ve been at the same desk in the same office for five years. During that time I have had some great office mates, and some not so great ones. Some of them were quiet, and some talked too much. Some showed up every day, and some barely showed up at all. Some were close friends that knew very personal details about my life, and some I didn’t trust with anything. But I was not living with any of them, I was not having sex with any of them, I was not in love with any of them.

The details of why I can’t stand being in an office with my partner all day aren’t very important (I don’t think). That being said, I will highlight a few of them:

  1. My partner doesn’t sit at his desk like a normal human being. As in, he doesn’t sit with his feet on the floor while he types on a keyboard, looking at a computer screen on a desk. My partner prefers to kick back and put his feet up on his desk, place his laptop on his desk, and take up as much space as humanly possible. It’s manspreading with a twist, and my annoyance with his seating posture rests primarily with white male entitlement lying beneath the surface. But…
  2. He is also always watching me! Because he can’t sit like a normal person, his chair is turned in such a way that he is constantly facing my desk. I use a desktop computer with a rather large monitor, so any time he looks up from his laptop he can see what I’m doing. Sometimes that means he catches me on Twitter or Facebook when I should be working (in which case, I tell him to fuck off, because we both know he wastes time on the Internet too). Sometimes it means he sees that I have been g-chatting with my best friend and complaining about him (umm… sorry, not sorry, you shouldn’t be looking over my shoulder). The point is, it’s annoying. He’s always there, always watching. Very Big Brother like.
  3. We have vastly different view points on political science research methods. My partner uses all the most complicated statistical methods, and I think that is all bullshit. His feelings get hurt when I talk badly too frequently about his preferred methods, so I try to temper my frustration with quantitative political science. This matters though when it comes to sharing an office because he is often talking and/or complaining about stats that I don’t understand/value, often with one of our closest friends in the department. Call me a bad partner, but I don’t want to hear any more about your robustness checks.

Everyone has their pet peeves. I probably have more than most. The important part is that spending hours in an office with my partner, followed by hours at home with my partner, is just too many hours together. No one needs to be with another person that much.

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