Making time for yourself in a relationship
Creating space to be by yourself and do things that interest you is important in a healthy relationship
Having someone to talk to and share your time with is one of the positive things about being in a relationship. Knowing there is always someone there can be a great feeling. However, it’s also possible to feel like you’re spending too much time with someone else. If this is the case, remember that alone time is an important part of being in any relationship.
Whether you see each other in person, or just spend a lot of your day talking online or texting, making sure you both take time to yourself to relax and explore your own interests will be good for both of you and for the relationship.
Is it normal to want time alone in a relationship?
Being in a relationship with someone does not mean you have to spend all of your time with them. Making time for yourself is incredibly important, and everyone needs space every now and again. If you find yourself wanting to spend some time away from your partner, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong. Likewise, if you find your partner wants some alone time, it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want to be with you.
Spending time alone can be a way to relax, work on hobbies or interests that your partner might not be into, or simply do some self care. You may also want to meet family or friends without your partner present, and this is okay, as other relationships in your life will also require your time.
If you’re worried about how much time your partner is spending apart from you, talk to them about it. They may not realise that the time apart is concerning you, and by talking it over you can find a balance between time spent together and time spent alone.
Am I spending too much time with my partner?
Every relationship is different, and each person will have a different idea about how much time is too much to spend with someone else.
When you spend a lot of time with someone, whether that’s in person or online, it can become harder and harder to spend any time without them. Being apart may make you feel sad or anxious, and it could lead to you neglecting other relationships with family and friends so that you can be with them. If this happens, then you might be overly dependent on your partner. This isn’t good for you, but it isn’t good for your partner either. It can put a lot of pressure on them and may make them feel like they’re responsible for your mental wellbeing.
It’s also possible for both of you to feel like you’re dependent on each other. Being codependent can make it even harder to set boundaries.
Am I co-dependent in my relationship?
Here are questions to ask yourself if you’re worried you might be dependent on your partner:
Do I make time for family and friends?
Have I been able to spend time on my own hobbies or interests?
Do we do activities we both enjoy, or just the things that one of us enjoys?
Am I neglecting responsibilities to spend time with my partner?
Do I feel anxious or upset when we’re apart, even for a short time?
Do I get upset when they want to spend time alone?
Do I put their needs above my own?
You might relate to some of these, or to a lot of them. You may even be noticing other signs that are not on this list. If you’re worried you or your partner is feeling dependent on the other, then it might be time for a conversation.
How to tell your partner you need time alone
Although taking time for yourself is normal and necessary in a relationship, it can be hard to know where to start with the conversation. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Starting the conversation
Try to find a quiet space where you can talk without being interrupted such as at a time when you and your partner are not under immediate pressure from work, school or family. Let them know that you wanted to talk about something and you’d like their attention. This might be something they’re completely comfortable discussing, or they could feel upset or rejected, so it’s important to try and be sensitive to how they’re feeling. Let them know that you feel like you’re spending a lot of time together, and while you love being with them, you also need your own alone time. Make sure they know this doesn’t mean never spending time with each other - it just means making time for yourselves too.
Try to avoid blaming anyone
If this is something your partner hasn’t considered before, they might feel like you’re blaming them for something they didn’t realise they were doing. It’s important to remind them that this is no one’s fault - becoming dependent on your partner can happen in any relationship, and you’re not suggesting it’s their fault, it’s just something you need to work on together.
Take everyone’s needs into account
It’s important to find a balance between your own needs and your partner’s needs in a relationship. You might feel like you’ve been prioritising their needs over your own for some time, or maybe it’s the other way around. Create space for both of you to share what it is that you need so you can find a way to make things work for both of you.
Talk about how much time you need
Remember that alone time can be as simple as going for a short walk or reading a book in another room, it doesn't necessarily mean spending days or weeks apart. Your partner may start to panic at first if they think you’re saying you want to put a lot of distance between the two of you. Being clear about what alone time means and how much time you feel you need is important.
However, if you are looking for a longer break from the relationship, it’s important to have a conversation about this and really ask yourself what it is that you want. It isn’t fair to string someone along if you know you don’t want to be with them, so be honest with yourself and with your partner about what it is that you want.
Encourage them to focus on their own interests
Spending some time apart can be good for both of you, and gives everyone a chance to focus on their own interests, catch up with friends and family, and learn to become more comfortable spending time alone. If your partner spends their time waiting for you to finish your alone time, this isn’t healthy - it’s important that they also make time for themselves.
Make sure you are making time for the relationship
Once you both start spending more time doing things alone or with other people, try to avoid things moving too far in the other direction. There are a number of things you can do to keep track of how both of you are feeling about this as the relationship progresses. Checking in with each other and making sure you’re still regularly dedicating time together can really help. Finding a balance is key, and arranging dates or making special plans is a good way to make sure you’re looking after both yourselves and your relationship.
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