When you're super in love and happy in a relationship, it can be easy to get caught up in hanging out with each other day in and day out. But when it's time to ask for more alone time in a relationship, it can be quite the tightrope walk. On the one hand, your partner can completely take it in stride and admit to you they were dying for some solo time to catch up with Stranger Things anyway. On the other hand, they can freak out and wonder if the relationship is heading straight for the rocks. It can really go either way, even with the most reasonable and understanding of significant others.
In the end, what it comes down to is underlining to your partner that your request has nothing to do with the relationship and everything to do with you. You don't want space because you're unhappy with how things are going. Rather you want alone time so you can focus on yourself and keep up all those hobbies, projects, and interests that made them fall in love with you in the first place. Below are 11 expert tips on how to ask for more space in a relationship without starting a fight!
1. Pair The Request With A Future Date
Asking for space is a tricky situation because there's a chance your partner might feel like they no longer matter to you — or at the very least, matter less. So cushion the request with an excited comment about a future date you'll be having. "When you ask for space, make sure to follow it up with a comment about looking forward to spending future time together. For example, something such as, 'I really could use an evening to myself to recharge, but I can't wait for our date on Friday' shows that you are still making your partner a priority while also taking care of your own needs," Samantha Burns, a Licensed Counselor and Dating Coach, explains in an email interview with Bustle. That way they still feel wanted and appreciated.
2. Explain Exactly Why You Need It
If you want more space, be direct, be honest and let your partner know why. It'll curb a lot of unnecessary worrying from their end. "A conversation about feeling that you’d like a bit of time to yourself to see friends, maintain interests or to find space for personal growth is going to hurt a lot less then a text telling them you’ll see them in two weeks without an explanation," Katy Red, dating coach and dating blogger from All Sweetness and Life, advises in an email interview with Bustle. If you explain maintaining hobbies or friendships is important to you, they'll be able to understand.
3. Be Willing To Compromise
Some people take a request for space completely in stride, while others worry that it might be a reflection of something wrong in a relationship. Because of that, be willing to compromise at first on how much time you need. "If you and your partner have different needs when it comes to having alone time be open to compromise and understanding their point of view," Ané Auret, Dating and Relationship Coach, offers in an email interview with Bustle. If you requested a handful of days and they'd like to see you within two, see if you can meet them halfway. That will show them you care about their feelings and aren't just blowing them off.
4. Explain That It's About Recharging
Even if you're the most extroverted, outgoing person out there, we all need some time alone to recharge and refresh. So when making your request, explain in clear words that you need some alone time in order to reset.
"Let your partner know it's not personal, in fact you enjoy his/her company the most, but that you have limits as to how much time you can spend around others. Tell him/her that alone time is the way you recharge your battery, which then allows you to come back to quality time together with more energy and appreciation," Burns suggests. If you let them know your relationship will only strengthen with the time apart, the request has a better chance of being taken well.
5. Take Baby Steps
If you've been attached at the hip with your partner from the get-go, asking for a couple of days to yourself could feel like a red flag to them. Because of that, try taking baby steps in the form of dipping out for a couple of hours in the afternoon or taking an evening apart. "Personally I believe that absence makes the heart grow fonder. For me that can sometimes mean only a couple of hours," Auret explains. Taking time off doesn't need to come in a large amount.
6. Keep Your Time Apart Balanced
In order to keep your significant other from gnawing their lip with worry, make sure to balance your time apart with the time you actually spend together. "If your ‘space’ time becomes more frequent than your relationship time (unless it’s always been this way) it is likely to create problems within that relationship longterm," Red points out. If you see each other just as often as you break away to recharge, there shouldn't be too many issues.
7. Be Specific In What You're Requesting
If you list out what you'll be up to during your time apart, it won't be viewed as an alarm bell by your partner. If you say you're going to spend an evening catching up on work or favorite TV shows, that seems completely OK. Whereas if you say you need some breathing room, that could be translated into something scary. "Be specific. Say, 'I need the afternoon to myself.' Simply saying 'I need space' sends confusing signals," lifestyle writer Lindy West from Jezebel offered. The more specific you get, the less room there is for them to over-analyze.
8. Explain How It Will Benefit The Relationship
If you have to sell it to your partner, explain to them how it will improve the relationship if you get some breathing room. Lifestyle writer Shawn McKibben from self development site Mind Body Green suggested saying something like, "Alone time is really important to me. I want to be the best husband I can be and it's really important that I spend this time alone so I can be that husband." That way you're doing it with them in mind, and not for "selfish" reasons.
9. Stress That You're Not Trying To Fix Anything
To put your partner at ease, mention to them that this healthy amount of space has nothing to do with fixing the relationship. Rather, it's just time you need to recharge and focus on yourself. "Express your desire to improve yourself rather than a need to 'fix' the relationship," McKibben advised. If you reassure them right off it has nothing to do with the relationship, it'll be easier to process.
10. Highlight Why It Makes You Happy
If your partner is taking the request hard, explain to them from the get-go why some time alone makes you happy. "Explain why more space makes you happy, so your partner knows it's not about him or her," West suggested. They wouldn't want to take that bit of joy away from you, and it further underlines it has nothing to do with the actual relationship.
11. Reconnect Afterwards
To show your partner your need for space is NBD, make it a point to reconnect after your small hiatus. "When you return from your alone time, make sure to re-connect with your partner. This may just be a long hug or talking about what you’ve both been up to," Auret recommends. Sitting down and catching them up with all the important or relaxing things you did with your time off will bring them into your world and prove that you're not trying to push them away.
If anything, you're trying to build a healthier relationship.
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