As the saying goes, "Distance makes the heart grow fonder." While too much space—physically or emotionally—can be tough on a partnership, there may be times when you crave a little time alone. And if you've been feeling that craving lately, don't feel bad—there's nothing wrong with you or your relationship.
Being partners doesn't mean you have to—or even should—do everything together. Needing space does not necessarily mean your relationship is doomed. In fact, it can be a healthy sign that you're prioritizing yourself as an individual both inside and outside of your relationship.
Here are just five of the signs that you may need more time spent in solitude:
1. You're fighting about inconsequential things.
Conflict is normal and can even be healthy in relationships. But if you find that you and your partner are often bickering over things that don't matter—whose turn it is to take out the trash or what to have for dinner, for example—that might be a sign that you need some space. It's only natural to get a little prickly while in close proximity with another person all the time. If you both take a little breathing room, you might find that you can get back to focusing on the things that matter.
2. You're bored.
It's all too easy to fall into a routine in your relationship. And routines can get pretty boring pretty quickly. If you find that you're getting bored with your partner—you keep doing and talking about the same things, or you're running out of things to talk about completely—try taking a step back. There's not necessarily anything wrong with your partner or with your relationship. You may just need an opportunity to view both with fresh eyes.
3. You never see your friends.
While it's important that your partner complement and support you, it's also helpful to remember that your partner can't be everything to you. And your friends and family make up the difference. They are the ones you can rely on to fill any voids your partner just may not be able to fill—or even some they can—supporting you through a conflict at work or encouraging you to pursue your long-term goals. Having a diversity of perspectives and voices in your life helps you see your experiences from all vantage points and can help widen your lens on life; only hearing two people's points of view (yours and your partner's) may end up limiting you and facilitating blind spots.
Plus, your friends know you for everything you are outside of your relationship. If you find that you're not spending as much time with your friends as you used to, you may need some space from your partner and more time with the people you knew prior to your relationship. (Your partner may find relief in not being the sole source of support in your life, too!)
4. You're avoiding the things you like to do.
When's the last time you went to yoga class? Or read a book? Or took a photography class? These are just examples, of course—whatever your thing is that you love to do (and loved to do even before you were in a relationship), when's the last time you took time for that? If you're no longer doing the things you've always loved to do—whether you're actively avoiding them because your partner isn't into them, or you've just let them fall off your radar because you never have time on your own—it might be time to reevaluate the time you have to yourself and how you're spending it. Don't let what you love to do slip because of time spent with who you love.
5. You don't feel like yourself.
This last point is probably the most important sign that you need some space. If you no longer feel like yourself—but rather, like one-half of a partnership—then you likely need some time alone. While connectedness, compromise, and commitment are crucial to any relationship, it's never healthy to lose sight of who you are outside of it. If you don't feel like yourself anymore, then consider how you can take the space to reconnect to you, and allow that person to show up as their whole self in your relationship.
Sound like you? Time to communicate with your partner about it.
It's healthy to spend time alone, whether you're self-reflecting or simply taking part in a favorite solo activity. While it can be scary to feel like you need and want time away from your partner, it's important to communicate what you need when you know you need it. Remember that spending time in solitude is not self-indulgent. When you notice the signs that you need that space, talk to your partner and work together to schedule connected time together and specific times apart.
In fact, telling your partner that you need time alone can be a healthy step for your relationship—and it doesn't have to be hard either! It can be as simple as saying, "I love spending time with you, but I don't feel I've been spending enough time with myself lately. Would you mind if we scheduled some solo time this week? I may take that writing class at the local community college; what would you like to do?" So long as your partner still feels connected to you and like part of the conversation, they'll likely appreciate the opportunity for a little alone time, too!
Needing space doesn't necessarily mean you don't love your partner; it just means that you also love yourself enough to create a healthy balance of time spent together and apart. Distance actually can make both your and your partner's hearts grow fonder when that space is created with intention and communication.
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