In a serious relationship, it’s easy to slowly lose sight of yourself when you’re with your SO every minute of the day. Even past the “honeymoon stage,” many couples find themselves spending no time apart, which can be unhealthy for the relationship. However, requesting space can sometimes come off the wrong way, leading the other person to believe he or she is losing you.
1. Define the type of space you need
There are different types of space that you may be craving in your relationship. If you need physical space, request a day or two of the week when the two of you will spend time apart pursuing your own activities. If you want emotional space, politely ask him or her to not interrupt or distract you when you’re doing something you enjoy. One way to go about this would be to say something like, "I'm reading this book (or whatever you do) right now, I would like some peace and quiet if that's okay." This way, you aren't coming off a rude and making it clear that you enjoy this personal time doing something you like.
2. Don’t use the word “space”
“I need my space” is too blunt and demanding, so try to be a little more sympathetic to his or her feelings. This phrase often serves as a sign that the relationship is coming to an end, and you don’t want to worry your partner. Instead, you can say, “I think we need more alone time,” or “I think we should take time to ourselves sometimes.” This way, you aren’t giving the illusion that you don’t enjoy spending time with that person or that you are annoyed.
3. Mention the reasons why
Most likely, your SO will probably be a little concerned no matter how you go about this. Therefore, it’s extremely important to immediately mention the reasoning behind your request. You should never just say you need time to yourself without explaining why, because that will only lead your SO to assume the worst. Be sure to mention what you will use that alone time for, such as exploring a hobby or catching up on school work. Chelsea Jackson, a junior at Iowa State University, says, “I would simply tell them that I need some time to relax by myself. I have had some issues with particularly clingy exes, where they have gotten upset that I wanted/needed some ‘me time.’ In situations like that, I typically just state that I'm busy and need to work on stuff, or I need some quality time with my roommates.” Anyone who truly cares about you will respect these types of requests.
4. Mention the benefits
There are many benefits to having alone time. For example, you could mention how the both of you could get your school work done faster without any distractions, or that alone time will make you cherish the time spent together even more. Most importantly, tell them you want space because you care about the relationship, not the opposite. Lindsey Allen, a sophomore at the University of New Haven, says, “Alone time is very healthy for a relationship because space/time away allows you to reflect and be your own person separate from your SO. If you spend too much time with your SO, it's harder to differentiate yourself from your relationship.” Having your own sense of self in a relationship is crucial for its success.
5. Listen and be considerate
Hopefully, your SO will understand your reasoning and respect your request. However, if your partner seems bothered or hurt by it, make sure you listen to them and come up with some type of compromise. You don’t want to negatively affect your relationship, and you shouldn’t demand something that will make your SO upset or uncomfortable. There is always a middle ground to be found.
It’s okay to need and want space in a relationship, and you should never feel ashamed for asking. If you’re with the right person, he or she will be understanding. With these steps, you can get the alone time you need without damaging the relationship.