Why does my partner sleep with a pillow between us

It’s 2 AM, and as you turn around, you find a soft yet undeniable barrier between you and your partner: a pillow. It wasn’t a mistake, nor a one-time event. It seems your partner has chosen to put a pillow between the two of you in bed. At first, this might come across as puzzling or even slightly hurtful, leading to questions like “Are they distancing themselves from me?” or “Is there something wrong?”

However, before drawing any hasty conclusions, it’s essential to understand the myriad reasons one might adopt such a bedtime habit. This guide aims to shed light on this mysterious nocturnal behavior, ensuring you get a comprehensive understanding of the many reasons behind it.

A Guide: Understanding the Pillow Barrier

  1. Physical Comfort:
    • Temperature Control: Some people tend to get warm quickly. Keeping a pillow in between can regulate their body temperature, providing a cool barrier against another warm body.
    • Body Support: The pillow might offer additional support to relieve body aches. It’s common for side sleepers to place a pillow between their knees for better alignment.
  2. Sleep Quality:
    • Minimizing Disturbances: A pillow can act as a buffer against a partner’s movements, ensuring that both parties sleep undisturbed.
    • Snoring or Breathing Issues: If one person snores or has heavy breathing, a pillow might provide a sense of auditory barrier.
  3. Personal Space:
    • Boundaries in Bed: Everyone has their own preference for personal space. Some people just feel more comfortable and sleep better when they have their own defined area.
    • Transitioning from Single to Partnered Sleep: Those who have slept alone for years might find it challenging to adjust. The pillow can act as a familiar presence.
  4. Emotional Reasons:
    • Reassurance: Odd as it may sound, the pillow can serve as a symbolic link. While there’s a need for personal space, the pillow keeps both parties connected.
    • Temporary Phase: Emotions ebb and flow. Whether it’s due to a small argument or personal issues, the pillow might be a temporary need for some emotional distance, which can be addressed and resolved with communication.
  5. Medical or Therapeutic Reasons:
    • Recovery: After surgeries or physical injuries, a pillow can provide the needed separation to avoid accidental pain or discomfort.
    • Advised by a Therapist: Some therapists might recommend it as a tool to enhance sleep quality or address specific personal or relationship issues.

While the presence of a pillow between you and your partner might initially stir feelings of confusion or concern, it’s important to remember that it’s rarely a direct reflection of your relationship’s state. Always approach the topic with understanding and empathy. Engage in open communication with your partner, asking them about their reasons, and work together to ensure that both of you are comfortable and secure in your shared sleeping space.

What Your Sleep Position Reveals About Your Relationship?

The way couples position themselves during sleep can offer insights into their relationship dynamics. While no single sleep position definitively reveals everything about a relationship, common positions can be linked to specific relationship dynamics or stages. Here’s a closer look:

  1. Spooning:
    • What it Means: Spooning is seen as a protective and nurturing position. The partner doing the “spooning” (the one behind) often wants to protect and comfort the other.
    • Relationship Insight: It signifies trust, intimacy, and emotional bonding. While common in newer relationships, if maintained for years, it shows deep comfort and attachment.
  2. Loose Spooning:
    • What it Means: This position is like traditional spooning but with a little space between partners.
    • Relationship Insight: Often found in relationships that have matured past the honeymoon phase. There’s still a desire for connection but also an appreciation for personal space.
  3. Chasing Spoon:
    • What it Means: One partner retreats to one side of the bed while the other chases and spoons from behind.
    • Relationship Insight: It can indicate one partner seeking more space or independence, while the other seeks more connection. It’s essential to communicate and ensure both partners’ needs are met.
  4. Back to Back, Touching:
    • What it Means: Both partners sleep back to back with some parts of their bodies touching.
    • Relationship Insight: This position indicates both independence and intimacy. The partners value their own space but also reassure each other of their presence.
  5. Back to Back, Apart:
    • What it Means: Both sleep on opposite ends of the bed, not touching.
    • Relationship Insight: It can signify independence or possibly a disconnect. If it’s a sudden change in sleep patterns, it might be worth discussing any underlying issues.
  6. Leg Hook:
    • What it Means: One partner hooks their leg over the other’s leg.
    • Relationship Insight: It’s a playful position, indicating a need for connection and intimacy.
  7. Facing Each Other:
    • What it Means: Both partners sleep facing one another, possibly with limbs intertwined.
    • Relationship Insight: This position is common in the early stages of relationships, signifying deep intimacy, connection, and engagement.
  8. Starfish and Conch:
    • What it Means: One partner dominates the space (starfish) while the other takes a smaller portion (conch).
    • Relationship Insight: It might indicate one partner being more dominant or self-centered. It’s worth discussing if one partner feels restricted or compromised.
  9. Pillow Barrier:
    • What it Means: Placing a pillow between each other.
    • Relationship Insight: The couple may be experiencing a need for security or a sense of distance, which could be due to a myriad of reasons like personal space, emotional disconnect, or temporary issues.
  10. Head on Chest:
  • What it Means: One partner rests their head on the other’s chest.
  • Relationship Insight: It’s a protective position. The person whose chest is used as a pillow is often seen as the protector or nurturer.

Remember, while sleep positions can hint at relationship dynamics, they aren’t definitive proof of a relationship’s health. Factors like personal comfort, sleeping habits, physical health, or even mattress firmness can influence sleep positions. Always prioritize open communication to truly understand and nurture a relationship.


Is my partner using a pillow barrier because they’re distancing themselves from me emotionally?

Not necessarily. While it’s natural to wonder if a pillow barrier indicates emotional distance, there are many reasons one might prefer to have a pillow in between, ranging from physical comfort and body support to sleep quality enhancement. Emotional reasons are possible, but it’s always best to communicate directly with your partner to understand their motivations.

Could sleeping with a pillow in between be indicative of any health issues or medical conditions?

Yes, it can be. Some people might use a pillow between them due to recent surgeries, physical discomfort, or the need to maintain a particular posture during sleep. It can also be a means to manage temperature or prevent disturbances due to conditions like Restless Leg Syndrome. It’s advisable to discuss any health-related motivations with your partner for clarity.

How should I approach my partner about their choice to sleep with a pillow between us?

Approach the topic with empathy, curiosity, and an open mind. Instead of making assumptions, ask them openly about their reasons, ensuring that the conversation is a safe space for both of you. Understanding and communication are crucial in addressing any uncertainties or feelings you might have about the situation.


The act of placing a pillow between partners during sleep can be influenced by a myriad of factors, be it physical, emotional, or medical. While our initial reactions might veer towards feelings of confusion or even rejection, it’s essential to remember that personal sleeping habits are multi-faceted and unique to each individual. Open communication remains the key. By discussing the matter candidly with your partner, you can gain a better understanding and find ways to ensure that both of you are comfortable in your shared sleeping environment.

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