The anxiety of sleeping in the same bed with someone for the first time with restless leg syndrome.

Dating and RLS

After divorcing someone who didn’t believe restless legs syndrome was real, I was self-conscious about bringing it up with potential future dates. Everyone knows the pre-sex talk: What birth control are we using? Are we up to date on being tested for STDs?

But, my stress when it came to the idea of dating someone seriously again had to do with sleeping with them in a literal, non-euphemistic way. Sleeping, as in, being unconscious next to each other in the same bed, potentially under the same blanket.

So many 'what if' thoughts

What if I keep them up all night with my restless legs? What if they didn’t believe it was real, like my ex didn’t? What if they don’t want to sleep over because of my restless legs? What if they break up with me because of my restless legs? What if I can’t sleep in the same bed as them? What if I can’t have a happy, serious relationship because I can’t share a bed anymore? What if I can’t sleep at their house, only mine? What if I can’t handle sharing a blanket? What if they think my weighted blanket is weird?

The ultimate show of trust

As I navigated the complexities of dating in a pandemic, as a single parent, in my thirties, with some significant emotional trauma, my restless legs compounded my anxiety. I didn’t feel like bringing it up with my therapist, worried it was too “stupid” of a problem at this stage when there were much more important questions to be working on, like “How do I learn to trust again?”

But, being asleep with someone is the ultimate show of trust, is it not? Being able to relax and trust that you won’t be murdered or even judged in your sleep is a form of intimacy, perhaps even more revealing than sex.

Dating and future partners

For any future sleep partners, I plan to be honest about not only my restless legs, but also my insecurity about sleeping with someone. I’ll break out my weighted blanket and proudly display my pre-bedtime stretches. If they don’t believe me when I say I have restless legs syndrome, or if they cannot deal with my restlessness, I think I have to see that as an indicator that they are not a person I should trust, overall.

If I can’t relax enough with them to fall asleep, that’s also something I need to work on, either by thinking about why I don’t trust this person or, perhaps, why I can’t trust any person.

My ideal night

My dream is to fall into a peaceful slumber next to someone kind, to sleep all night without being woken up to be told that I’m keeping them up, and to wake up the next day with a refreshed bed partner and feeling safe, cared for, and that I can trust myself to fall asleep again.

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