How Much Space Should There Be In A Relationship?


Andrew Carroll

It is not necessary or feasible to be around your partner 24/7. A seemingly perfect couple, who is madly in love would also want to have some "me time." Space has nothing to do with staying together or not.

What is space, really?

Having some time on your own allows a person to focus on himself as an individual apart from the relationship. Space gives room to explore one’s interests and hobbies. It opens time for other relationships, like family and friends, and lets a person grow with their own separate identity. Your life cannot possibly revolve around your significant other only. Your personal relations and interests need your time and attention too so that you can evolve as a person. One cannot expect to grow when they are glued to someone all the time. Personal space is an absolute essential for individual growth.

A common perception is that when a partner asks for personal space, it means that they want to break up. That is not true. Sometimes, people don’t even realize that they need their personal space. Because of the fear of getting abandoned, people trade off their personal space in order to secure the relationship.

Why is having space healthy for a relationship?

A common, and rather a misunderstood concept, implies that relationships are all about being close to your partner and being together—in everything. It is not true nor healthy. Rather it is a codependent belief that in order to be in a secure relationship, one needs to be close to the partner all the time. One cannot achieve closeness as a conscious goal. There is nothing wrong with being close but this closeness should be healthy while still maintaining your own individuality.

With too much closeness, each party is more than happy to give up everything and compromise to such an extent that it becomes difficult to distinguish where one ends and other starts. Space helps in resetting the balance if the two of you've been attached at the hip lately. It is important to understand and point out when one begins to feel crowded and inundated. Inundation means when one feels intruded upon and feels that his/her personal space has been cut off. This leads to resentment and feeling like you are being trapped in limbo. As a result, the relationship becomes more of a burden.

Love makes us oblivious to the fact that we might be feeling inundated. At the same time, it becomes difficult to admit that one might still have this basic need of having one’s own space and time. It could be anything; a hobby you enjoy (which your partner doesn’t), some alone time being on your own or spending time with a friend. Until partners have communicated regarding the need for personal space, boundaries will be crossed and personal space will be sacrificed. A healthy relationship does mean two people coming together and enjoying their lives together, but at the same time, they are still two different people, in different bodies and potentially with different interests and hobbies.

The best thing about having personal space in a relationship is that it reignites the spark of the relationship. Interactions tend to become more profound and interesting when the couple stops feeling like one entity and the inundation subsides. It feels like you are back in the “honeymoon” phase of your relationship.

How to ask for space, or understand that your partner needs space in the relationship?

For some, there is nothing difficult about asking for space., others might be worried that they could hurt their partner in doing so. Look for signs that indicate your partner would appreciate some time and space of their own. Wanting and needing space is totally normal and it’s your responsibility to give them that without acting controlling and overbearing.

A partner could become irritated or cranky if they have had too much of their spouse. If you see your partner become cranky for no reason, give them space. And when you get back, you’ll see they are alright. One of the most effective ways to give space is not getting personal about it. It is not related to your partner not loving you. As a partner, make sure that you encourage the other person to do their own thing, any activity they enjoy and socialize with their other relationships.

Word of caution:

Requests for space are normal and reasonable, but if a partner happens to have a habit of lying, cheating, or refusing to admit that they are in a committed relationship, asking for space may have more to do with manipulating you than needing it for personal growth. If a partner is good to you and the two of you share a loving and understanding bond, then there is nothing wrong with asking for some space.

With some space and perspective, your relationship could become really strong. How much time and space is needed could vary from person to person but the truth is that anyone could use some off-time from their loved ones. And in some cases, it could be one of the best things you could do for yourself and your relationship.

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