Why Your Relationship Depends On Taking Some Space

by Emma McGowan

My parents have been married for almost 30 years and I’m convinced they’ve lasted this long largely because they’ve always taken space in their relationship. When I was a kid, my mom (a morning person) took on childcare in the morning and my dad (a night person) had us in the evenings. It was a great system for my brother and I, giving us almost equal time with both parents, but it also meant that my parents straight up didn’t see much of each other for the first like, 12 years of my life. Additionally, my parents have totally different interests: my mom is an avid gardener and reader, while my dad loves to dance the night away to electronic music.

As a result, they’ve spent a lot of time apart during those 30 years together — and I think that’s awesome. I’ve seen how they value the time they do get together and how they’ve both maintained their individuality even after decades at each other’s sides. I’ve witnessed the fact that you don’t have to have everything in common with your partner in order to be a great fit and that doing stuff apart only makes your relationship stronger.

However, finding space in a relationship is still something I struggle with. I’m an obsessive person and when I love someone, I really want to spend all of my time with them. Add on the fact that my current partner and I, a) both work from home and, b) travel together and you have a life and relationship structure that makes it all to easy to indulge my “wanna hang out 24/7” tendencies. I’ve been forced to create artificial distance between my partner and I because I really want that long-term success that my parents have had. And if that means taking separate vacations sometimes? So be it!

Still not convinced that it’s not a good idea to spend every moment with your love? Here are seven reasons you definitely need space in your relationship.

1. Absence Really Does Make The Heart Grow Fonder

It’s a cliche for a reason, folks! Taking some time away from your boo is the best way to restart that love feeling that ebbs and flows in any long-term relationship.

2. Fighting The Westermarck Effect

You’re probably thinking, “The Wester-what now?” The Wetermarck Effect is basically what keeps us from being sexually attracted to our siblings. It hypothesizes that people who live “in close domestic proximity” during the first few years of life will become desensitized to sexual attraction to each other. While you and your partner aren’t children, there have been studies that suggest that even adults living together develop a familial feelings toward to each other that can kill sexual attraction. Less time together is a good way to counteract those feelings, so get out of the house!

3. It Helps You Preserve Your Individuality

It’s all to easy to get lost in a new relationship. We all have the tendency to subsume our own interests to those of our partners or stop hanging out with friends that our new loves don’t like. Taking time apart — even if it’s just going out with friends but not each other once a month — helps us preserve our individuality even when you go from being solo to being one half of pair.

4. You’ll Be So Excited To See Them Again

Seriously — so excited. I notice this one even when I go work in a cafe and my boyfriend works from home. At the end of the day, I want to hear about how his day went and kiss him a million times, as opposed to when we both work from home and I try to pretend he’s not there by not opening the door between the bedroom and the front room.

5. It’s A Good Way To Forget Everything That Bugs You About Them

Fact: our partners are annoying. That’s because everyone is annoying on some level. Taking some time alone time is a good way to forget about all of the little, stupid things your partner does that drive you batty.

6. Everyone Needs That Battery Recharge

Even if you’re an extrovert, you need some you-time to recharge your batteries. And if you or your partner is an introvert? It’s especially important to spend time apart.

7. It Takes The Pressure Off

Spending too much time together reinforces the faulty idea that we have to be all things to our partners. Spending some time apart shows you and your partner that you both can survive without each other and takes some of that pressure off.

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