Having alone time is important, whether your single or in a relationship. It's something that we should all make room for. The thing is, some people need more alone time than others. And some people just hate having time by themselves. If you're someone who needs a lot of alone time and your partner doesn't, it can quite quickly become a source of friction.
"I think that alone time is undervalued in our society," relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. "With the advent of social media, everyone is all about posting pictures of parties, gatherings, group dinners, and vacations and that's what we come to value. No one is posting a picture of themselves taking a yoga class alone or reading a book! But individuals and relationships thrive on having a nice balance of together time and alone time."
If your partner acts like they can't understand why you need alone time, it's probably because they genuinely can't wrap their heads around it. Now, that doesn't mean you shouldn't still get it, it just means that you both have to remember your brains just aren't on the same page about this topic, so you're both going to have to be open-minded and patient when it comes to talking about it.
1. Bring It Up Early
Bringing it up early can prevent a whole lot of hurt feelings down the road. It's way easier in the early stages of dating to explain that you're someone who likes their alone time — that way if you bring it up again then they shouldn't take it personally. If you don't ever mention it for the first year of dating and suddenly withdraw and start talking about your space and alone time, they're going to assume they've done something wrong or something has gone wrong in the relationship. "The best thing you can do if your partner has a problem with your need for time on your own is to sit down and make your needs known," Hartstein tells Bustle. "Don't feel guilty and don't apologize. Explain that you love your partner and just because you need to do things on your own shouldn't take anything away from them or your relationship."
2. Explain That It's Not Them
This is key. If your partner is someone who doesn't need alone time, they're going to see it as avoidance or assume that they've done something to upset you. Explaining that you can feel uncomfortable or even worn down without enough alone time and that it's not anything your partner does or a problem with the relationship. They may need to hear this more than once.
3. Talk About Activities That Work For You
There may be some things that are more conducive to hanging out when you feel like you aren't up for too much interaction. Even though you still need your alone time, things like going to the movies or working together might let your partner feel like you're still around without giving you the pressure of constant interaction.
4. Check In With Them
As much as it might be difficult to you, remember that there's a good chance that it's an emotional and sensitive situation for your partner as well. They might feel confused, abandoned, or upset by it. That doesn't mean you aren't entitled to your own time — you definitely are— but you need to check in with them occasionally to see how they're doing and if the current dynamic is still working for both of you.
5. Get Ready To Compromise
Even you've been single for a while and are used to your own space, you need to expect some compromise. Yes, you should definitely still get alone time, but you can't be ruthless about it. You need to expect to meet your partner in the middle. If you only want to hang out once a week and they like to spend every day together, you can find a balance between the two. Try to understand where your partner is coming from — it's easy for their feelings to get hurt— and be open to compromise.
"It helps to give a little when you are getting something," Hartstein tells Bustle. "If you are spending the day on your own, go out of your way to plan a nice evening with your partner. Let them know that having time to yourself makes you value them and your relationship that much more."
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