Portland Marriage Counselor: Make Personal Space in Your Relationship

October 22, 2014 by

When you commit to a long-term relationship, you’re committing to make your partner an integral part of your life. You may make compromises with your partner, but you don’t need to sacrifice your individual identity. Both partners still need time to explore their individual identities and grow, and sometimes that means making room for personal space.

It’s not necessarily a bad sign if you don’t desire to be around your partner every minute of the day. It’s possible to love your partner and the time you spend together but also to value time apart, at work, with friends, with family, and on your own.  Unfortunately, sometimes the statement, “I need more space” can upset the person at whom the words are directed. This person might interpret their partner’s desire for more space as a form of rejection, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with them at all.

If you feel that you need more personal space in your relationship, follow these tips to talk to your partner about it in a healthy way.

Avoid accusations. Never say things like, “You never want to go out with your own friends” or “You’re suffocating me.” Instead, talk about how you’re feeling, and frame it in a positive way if possible. For example, you might say something like, “I love you, and I think it would be healthiest for our relationship if we gave each other a little more individual time.”

Suggest a solution. “I need space” is a vague, ominous statement. You can be a lot less ominous by explaining exactly how you’re hoping to achieve more individual time. For example, if you’re an artist who likes spending some time alone in the evening to work on your art, suggest to your partner that you both set aside a block of time to pursue your own hobbies (while also leaving blocks of time to spend together).

Talk to your partner about how making time for hobbies and friends can make both of your lives fuller. It’s unfair to expect one person to fulfill all your needs in life, so talk to your partner about the benefits of spending time with friends and pursuing activities that bring him or her joy, even if it’s not an activity the other person is interested in. It’s possible to enjoy friendships and alone time while still having a healthy relationship.

Remind your partner that sometimes you need to have an opportunity to miss one another. You’ll never get to enjoy the wonderful experience of returning to your partner after you’ve missed him or her if you’re never apart. Remind your partner that spending some time apart can actually make you appreciate one another more.

If you’re still craving personal space in your relationship but don’t know how to broach the subject, consider talking to a Portland marriage counselor. As an Imago therapist, I focus on helping couples communicate honestly with one another so that each person can get the love they want.