If your partner asks for space, or if you personally feel that you may need more space in the relationship, it can be a daunting and scary thing to do or ask for. Needing space however, is not always a bad thing, nor does it signify the end of a relationship. Especially in the year of 2020, with the coronavirus pandemic, you may find that you are in your partners pocket more than usual. If for example, you are working from home more, socializing less and spending more time with your significant other, you are bound to begin feeling a little suffocated. Time apart is incredibly healthy, it gives both parties time to focus on themselves as an individual rather than themselves as a partner, which occupies the majority of the time. This is normal. The trick is how to give space effectively, if your partner asks for space, or you need it.
If your partner is the one asking for space, if they are happy to discuss it, try to ask them how much time they need and what the parameters of that space is. Whether this is, spending time completely apart for a couple of days, or time in the workday without texting each other. It is up to you both to design this time in such a way that works for you. It can be very beneficial to have an agreed upon timeframe for both parties.
If you are the one asking for space, try to be open and honest with your partner and reassure them. This is a scary thing to be told as often people view it as a signifier that the relationship is ending. Instead, tell them (if possible) why you need space and that the reason you need space is to ensure the relationship stays strong and steady. After you have taken space, it may be a good idea to talk to your partner about how this space worked and how it didn’t work. You may be able to set down better parameters for regular space in the future.
If you are worried about taking space, try to remember that space is a positive and healthy thing for most relationships. Medium writes: ‘Space is an invaluable part of every healthy relationship, but we can lose sight of it when we get caught up in our personal insecurities or those of our partners. We need space in order to keep in touch with who we are, and we need space to keep sight of the love we share for our loved ones, and the future that we’re building together.’
Occupy your time with your own interests
It is often hard to actively take space from our loved ones. Especially when anxiety sets in. It is therefore better to fill your time and occupy your mind with something positive. So, think about who you were before the relationship? Who are you now? What do you enjoy doing by yourself perhaps that your partner does not? Many people believe that having your own identity and interests is a crucial element of being able to be in a healthy relationship. Often, we sacrifice our individuality to be in a relationship and before we realize it, we are unhappy with who we are. However, regular space can help you both cultivate and achieve your own individuality and will often make you both much happier with each other. Maud Purcell, LCSW, CEAP, said on PsychCentral.com, “It is healthy to have some separate interests and activities and to come back to the relationship refreshed and ready to share your experiences.”
Whilst you are taking space, you do not need to worry about whether your partner is enjoying the activity or whether it is on a time limit so you can do something together. You can actively focus on your needs, goals and desires. So, take the time apart to hone in on your own interests, whether that is simply reading a book or starting on a more complex new hobby. Define yourself outside of the relationship as well as in it.
Missing each other is good so respect those boundaries and release guilt
When giving each other space, we may want to reach out for reassurance, or simply because we miss the other person. If you and your partner have agreed upon no contact for a day, respect those rules and their boundaries. If you ignore the rules, whether it seems harmless or not, you are not giving your partner what they (or you needs) and actually diluting the effectiveness of the time apart. It can also cause extra stress for your partner as they don’t feel respected and listened to when they have asked for space.
If your partner has asked for space, they may be feeling guilty for doing so. Reassuring them and showing that you are okay to take space can be a big help in this journey. Once they take space without worrying that you are okay, it is more freeing and effective. If you are the one that has asked for space and feels guilty, Medium writes: ‘Stop perpetuating the belief that your time and your being belong entirely to your partner. Understand that it is okay to spend time on your own. Relationships are a commitment, and that means they are a mutual agreement — not a slave contract. We have a natural right to our own space when we need it. Tell yourself this, and repeat it every day until you realize the truth in it.’
Missing your partner can be a good thing. It shows that you still have a connection and can re-unite for more quality time after you have taken space. After you get used to taking regular space, you may find your relationship actually flourishes.