Give Space, Take Space
Feature by Simran Bharadwaj
Image via Freepik
I just want some alone time!! Is it bad that I don't want to spend 24/7 with my partner?
Sound familiar? If you want space in a relationship, or if your partner wants space, it is easy to panic and catastrophize. Do they still love me? Am I annoying them? Are they annoyed with me? Are they going to leave me? The questions come flooding in, however it is useful to remember that some space in relationships is actually healthy. Giving space to your partner and taking some space for yourself can grow and recharge the relationship, maybe even allowing you to become closer over time.
In a relationship it is easy to lose a sense of who you are if you do not take space for yourself. Despite the negative connotation that it has, the idea of taking space in a relationship doesn’t have to mean a break up. Taking space can also look very different from time to time. For instance, it can mean using an afternoon for self care and not talking to your partner for a couple hours. Taking space can also mean going on a trip with your friends or by yourself. If you find your partner is not talking to you in the morning, or as soon as they come home from work, it can easily be misinterpreted as them ignoring you. However, your partner may also need time to wake up in the morning or decompress after work.
If you find yourself craving closeness or feeling ignored, there are techniques to try to break the cycle.
1. Ground yourself
When you’re upset you can easily jump to conclusions. Deep breathing, journaling, or checking in with all five senses can be used as grounding techniques in order to read the situation better.
2. Check the facts
Prevent your thoughts from spiraling, and understand whether your partner has given any indication of being upset or not wanting to speak with you.
3. Clarify what you need from your partner
If you are the one who needs space, communicate to your partner that you need some time to be alone but you look forward to spending time with them later. If you are the one who finds yourself feeling ignored, clarify to your partner that you would like a couple words of interaction before leaving them alone.
4. Disengage to avoid escalation
Take a step back and disengage from the conversation if you notice your partner pulling away and/or if you notice your reaction escalating. Using breathing exercises or maybe even some space for yourself, you cool off and try engaging with your partner again without heightened emotions.
As mentioned earlier, space can look like many different things. It is beneficial to ask your partner how much time they need and what they mean by having space. Avoid asking your partner to defend themselves when they need space. It is understandable to want to know why they need space, however use active listening skills and listen to your partner without judgment. Encourage your partner to do their favorite things and give them opportunities to spend time with other people outside the relationship. When they need their space, avoid texting or using other forms of social media to communicate with them. It is harder to be able to recharge for the relationship if there is constant communication.
It might be challenging to give or take space. You might be feeling guilty or ignored. However, taking space can be healthy for a relationship so as to not become codependent on one another. Use time away from your partner to focus on what makes you happy. This will bring freshness in a relationship and encourage each partner to maintain their identity and independence.
Simran Bharadwaj is a pre-professional licensed mental health therapist in New York City. You can contact Simran at firstname.lastname@example.org and read more blog posts at www.mwr.nyc.
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