Which side is the “right” side?

After a very confusing conversation followed by a most stimulating debate with the boyfriend, the question was raised which side of the bed is considered the “right” side?*

I define a side as left or right based on the way I am oriented when lying on my back on the bed, head propped on a pillow gandering up at the glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling. Thus, for me, the right side (my side of choice when sleeping) is side A (as pictured in the photo below).

However, an opposing viewpoint was brought to my attention. This school of thought said that the left and right sides of the bed are determined by your perception when you walk into the room and are facing the bed with the headboard (if you are so classy as to have one) farthest away from your vantage point. In this case, side B is considered the right side.Image

I have a theory that more “right-minded” people will think one way and the more “left-brained” people another. Sociological experiment volunteers, anyone? What camp do you represent?

In the meantime, when my boy is staying over, I make it my mission to squirm to his chosen territory and attempt to push him off the bed under the guise of cuddling. Not because I want his “left” side, but more because I like to demonstrate my authority over my box spring mattress set. I sleep in a little corner when I’m alone–all curled up on the upper right side.

NB: The term “right” is used in this discussion as the counterpart of “left” not in terms of “correct” or “just.”


8 thoughts on “Which side is the “right” side?

  1. Let’s break it down. This will be simple if you follow the logic.

    We all know which is the top (pillow end) of the bed and which is the bottom of the bed (feet end).

    Therefore, if you are standing at the top (head) side of the bed, then the right would be the side that is on the right side of your body. However, if you are standing at the bottom (feet) side of the bed, then your right side is at the opposing side of the right side if you’re standing at the top of the bed… except if you flip the mattress over, which makes the former right side of the bed the new left side… but only if when you flip the mattress you also flop the mattress, which is to say you flip it, then rotate it, thereby making the top the bottom and the right the left. But if you are laying on the bed, the new right side, which was the former left side, is now the new right top side and the opposing left bottom side is at your feet. So that means that the side that was formerly the right side is now the new left side which is laying closest to your left hand.

    So in actuality, the only way to answer the question of which is the right and which is the left is to determine the age of your mattress and how many times it’s been flip flopped.

    Honestly though, I concur with Jake… I think it would be determined by standing at the foot of the bed facing the head board.

  2. Hmmm. I wonder if this has more to do with the bed’s status as an object rather than a being. People, dogs, squirrels, lizards, and to a much lesser extent cats, have pre-determined “left” and “right” sides based on their anatomical position. That’s why we (almost) never argue about which hand is a left hand. But a bed? Let’s first consider other non-living subjects. Lamps, iPads, bookshelves- for each of these things the right (location not correctness) side is usually defined from the perspective of looking at the object. “Oh but Jake” you might say, “those objects you cannot be inside of!” Similarly cars and boats, like beds, we may enter inside of (resisting inner child urge of puns). Hence the creation of words like “passenger’s side” and “port side.” In lieu of these designations, I have to agree with your boyfriend on this one. An objects right-sidedness is preferably defined from an outside observers perspective. Maybe I’m just more “right-minded” as you predicted… more likely, I’m just right.

    • If you embrace the idea that lamps, iPads, bookshelves, etc take on the side for which the observer looks upon them, and knowing you cannot crawl into these items comfortably to view from the inanimate objects’ perspective, how could you argue with the case of a couch or a bed, when you rest your derriere or back upon it, that now your perspective is different? Wouldn’t the way the object is used be the more accurate view point? The way it was designed for use by humans for humans?

      Most people don’t face a couch when the sit on it. People can sleep in an array of positions, but generally, the accepted and often depicted bed mannerism is that of on one’s back.

      This is truly a philosophical discussion.

      • I hear you 100%. I agree that for our own objects, especially those that we can stay comfortably inside of, it seems appropriate to describe them as from that perspective we enjoy. But, the discussion is about describing/ talking to others about an object. So, doesn’t it make the most sense to describe an objects left or right as the side that *most people will perceive that object? My couch, car, bedroom, all of these things when mentioned to someone else will be seen from an outside perspective. If I were to ask you right now, “imagine a room and in that room place a couch”- what is it that you see? Did you see the rest of the room from your perspective sitting on a couch, or instead, did you picture a couch sitting comfortably on its own, in the center of the room? It was the latter wasn’t it? That’s why it makes the most sense to refer to an objects right or left-ness as from the perspective of a person looking at the object since that is how the average person will perceive the object when described. The caveat here is clothing. Clothing is described much as a person is because it conforms to our bodies. But that we discussed earlier in the right-sidedness of people.

        P.S. I asked my friend and co-worker Lili which side is which (with now inclination of my preference) and she, like me, and like your boyfriend agree that the right side is from the perspective of looking at the bed, not from inside it. That’s 3 to 1 so far. I hope more people read this post, I’d love to hear more opinions.

      • You seem like an engineer. Are you an engineer?

        When I sit on the couch, I consider the view facing outward the left or right. If I were to summon someone to come sit next to me, I’d say come sit on the left or right of me–from my perspective.

        With the bed or even a couch, if you stand in another part of the room, the perspective changes again. For example, in my room if I’m standing in the bathroom (ensuite, I know, I’m very classy) from that perspective the left and the right of the bed varies. Or if I’m standing in another part of the living room, likewise, the couch changes from the left or the right. For consistency and simplicity, it would be better judged from one perspective and the one from which we enjoy the object.

        But here’s the clincher with me, no matter what side the bed is facing in a room, no matter who’s bed it is, whether it’s in a hotel or at a friends house or on an air mattress in a tent, I am always on the right side. That is, the right side of the perspective I am when I lay on my back. So, with that said, no matter the orientation of the bed, no matter the perspective of the person entering the room, from my vantage point on the bed, back against the mattress, head on the pillow, it’s always my right. This is why it’s the right side of the bed.

        This last argument you had is very good, but 3 to 1 means nothing to me accept that I’m correct and the rest of you are not.

        PS I asked my intern, who is unbiased and had no idea what my view was on the matter, and she said the same as me. 3:2

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