It is human nature to want to be in a relationship with someone. Even independent people usually want to have a partner at some point in their life at least. However, once you are in a relationship it is common to sometimes feel a little stifled if you are used to a more independent life. You may not want to end the relationship, but you are likely to be craving some of the personal space and alone time that you used to have so much more of when you were free and single!
You may be an introvert who needs to spend time on their own to recharge and stay sane, but your partner cannot bear to be apart from you. You may visit this article on ways on how to tell your boyfriend you need space without hurting his feeling.
Perhaps you are an extrovert who loves to meet new people and have a vibrant social life, but your partner always wants to stay in together with a movie and takeout on a Friday night. Either way, it can be difficult to find the time to do your own thing when you are in a close relationship.
In this article, we will explore some of the ways that you can keep your personal space when you are in a relationship.
1. Communicate your feelings
As with all issues in a relationship, communication between you and your partner is vital. If you are feeling unhappy about your lack of personal space, you should tell them. Do not bottle it up and leave it until you can’t help but say it out of anger—even genuine concerns can be expressed hurtfully or badly when said in the heat of an argument. Instead, you should tell your partner the way you are feeling in a calm and honest way.
Communication goes both ways, and you will need to be willing to hear your partner’s feelings on the situation. If your partner does not respect your feelings, the relationship is unlikely to work out in the long-term. However, they may be respectful and understanding but simply feel differently from you, and have feelings or needs that contradict yours. For example, your partner may feel like they need to be close to you to avoid feeling lonely. This is common when one member of a couple is more independent than the other.
Whatever each of your feelings are, you both need to be open about them if you want to find a solution. It is also very important that you make sure your partner knows that your desire for personal space is not a rejection of them as a person. If your partner feels loved and valued and is certain that they are important to you, they may even be less likely to be needy of constant attention for reassurance and validation.
2. Try living separately
You may not have heard the phrase “living apart together”, but it is simply a new name for a phenomenon that has always existed. The phrase means being part of a couple but not living with your partner. While this is usually the case anyway during the early stages of dating, couples who practice this long-term have no intention of moving in together any time soon, and their independence from each other is a deliberate choice. Some couples even practice this after marriage!
Of course, this arrangement has the advantage of awarding you much more personal space and time alone, but it also has disadvantages (you can read more about these on GoDates) that mean it is certainly not for everyone. You may not want to go quite as far as moving out of your home (or kicking your partner out)!
3. Set aside alone time
Some couples find it hard to find time to spend with each other, especially when one or both partners have busy schedules. This may even have been the case with your relationship during the earlier stages of dating! This problem is often solved by setting aside a night a week (for example) that is “couple’s night” or “date night”.
If you are living together and constantly in each others’ space, you may want to apply this solution in reverse. Why not set aside a night each week where you each do your own thing? This could mean going out to see friends or just staying in and working on your hobbies or reading a book alone.
4. Separate daily tasks
If the two of you usually do chores such as cooking, washing dishes, and grocery shopping together, why not each take on different tasks? This will naturally mean that you have time apart from each other, even if it is just half an hour while you walk around the supermarket or a few minutes each time you cook.
Separating some of these tasks can even help avoid arguments. For one thing, if you are around somebody all of the time it is natural to bicker with them sometimes. You will also avoid getting in each other’s way, and arguments over things like what music you listen to in the car or while cooking. Do you have an episode of your favorite podcast that you haven’t had the chance to listen to yet? This could be the ideal time to listen to it.
5. Spend time in different rooms
If living apart is a little extreme, you can do this to a lesser extent and still experience many of the benefits by simply spending time in different rooms of the house from each other. When one partner watches TV in the lounge, the other can go on their laptop in the bedroom, for example. This also means that you can each focus better on your chosen hobbies: you won’t be talking through their favorite TV show and they won’t be interrupting your thought process while you work on your pet project.
Unlike with living apart, you can simply walk into their room when you get lonely! Some couples even have their own designated rooms of the house—even if they sleep in the same room, one may have a “man cave” or similar space that they can make their own. This can be hugely beneficial to your productivity, relaxation, and even your appreciation of your partner.
6. Do your own things together
If you don’t want to be physically distant from your partner, or simply don’t have a big enough living space for this, why not share the same room while doing separate activities? Often it is not literal, physical personal space we crave, but time to be with our own thoughts and hobbies.
For example, one of you can be playing video games on the TV while the other knits a scarf while sitting in the same room. Spending time with your partner is wonderful, but it can cause stress if you always feel the need to find a shared activity to do it. Sometimes, their presence is enough, and looking over to see them engrossed in their favorite hobby can be very endearing.
7. Have separate hobbies
When one partner is clingy and dependent and the other feels suffocated, it is often because the more dependent partner has a lack of hobbies or interests outside of the relationship to occupy their time. For example, you may enjoy reading, going on walks, and you may even have commitments like community volunteering or playing for a local sports team. If your partner does nothing other than wait for you to be available to give them attention, this will cause resentment on both sides.
If this is the case with your partner, why not try to help them find a hobby? There is a suitable hobby out there for everyone, they just may not have discovered it yet! Find a hobby for your partner and they may even start to value and enjoy time apart as much as you do.
Whatever solution the two of you come up with, you will probably both have to compromise with each other to some degree. Personal space and time apart from each other can often actually increase your appreciation of each other when you do spend time together!