The statement, “I need some space,” might be met with confusion, fear or concern, but in truth, it need not be a concern unless it is masking a deeper desire to have permanent “space” from a partner. Healthy relationships need space to thrive. We all have requirements to pursue individual interests or to relax and unwind from daily pressures. When both partners recognize and appreciate that space is necessary, and don’t feel threatened by that space, it allows both partners to bring more into the relationship. Too much togetherness can suffocate an otherwise great relationship.
As discussed in “How Fear and Insecurity Affect a Relationship”, different backgrounds can greatly influence how much space we need to feel comfortable in a relationship. Problems can arise when one partner becomes anxious with their partner’s need for space to pursue other interests or time away to unwind or regroup. To avoid this, its important to establish healthy boundaries for time apart at the beginning of a relationship. Often when we are getting to know someone and feel the thrill of infatuation, we desire to spend a great deal of time together–more than we ordinarily would–and when we begin to normalize over time, it can be perceived as a “pulling away” or that things have changed in a negatively perceived way. This is often not the case, but rather just a normal, healthy need to pursue separate interests and take time to renew ourselves so we have more to bring to the relationship and share.
When someone needs constant attention and togetherness is can become a form of emotional vampirism sucking the life out of a partner and the relationship. It’s far better to accept and honor the healthy space needed and trust your partner. You will build a better life for yourself pursuing your own interests and have more to bring more into the relationship when you do spend together.
That said, too much space, either literal or figurative (for example, days of no contact), can be an impediment to building trust and intimacy for a healthy relationship or even erode a promising relationship. It’s just as important to find time to share life and bond together. It’s all about finding the right balance for both partners. Talk about your needs and find a common ground you can both feel good about and honor regularly.
If a situation arises that creates a legitimate need for some time away for introspection, give your partner that time and space. To resist would only do more harm. Trust in yourself and your partner. If there are issues that need to be worked out you can address them with a clear mind after a bit of space.
Men and women have different concepts and needs for space. Both men and women express themselves and relax in an entirely different manner with friends of the same gender than they do with their partners or friends of the opposite sex. Further, men tend to prefer time to process life events and interactions without verbal discussion, where women tend to enjoy talking through things. Keep in mind that each individual will have different needs for space and there is no “wrong” answer.
When we have time to live rich, full lives and share that with another person we are at our very best and the relationship benefits greatly. When we rely on our partner to supply everything we need we inadvertently take away from the relationship–if not suck the life out of it! So don’t stress too much about space. Focus on being your best self and sharing that with your partner in trust and love. When this is accomplished space takes care of itself.
Do you have any issues with space in your relationship? Share your stories below.