Q: Genoveve asks:
Hi, Rinatta. How does the person who asks for time alone in a relationship make sure that he or she doesn’t start feeling insecure during this time out? I can see how questions such as, “Is my partner unhappy because I want this time to myself?” or, “Is he/she going to leave me because I don’t want to be with him/her all the time?” can storm someone’s mind… In other words, how do I ask for and take time alone in a relationship, feel good about it, and help my partner feel good about it?
A: Relationship Coach Rinatta answers:
Genoveve, the best, healthiest relationships have plenty of together time and also plenty of alone time. However, most people don’t know this.
Even if they feel the need for space from their loved ones, they are not comfortable asking for and taking the time alone. And those who do ask for time alone often do so in a way that damages the relationship.
A relationship without alone time will eventually disintegrate because of an accumulation of resentments due to lack of space from each other.
This means that a healthy relationship must have time and space away from each other for each partner, but how this time and space is negotiated is critical to the health and well-being of the relationship.
The steps to successfully taking alone time in a relationship are as follows:
1. Recognize that you and your partner need time away from each other and start to talk about this with your partner.
2. When discussing time alone with your partner, emphasize how important the time together is for you and how taking time away from each other will make the time together even better.
3. Let your partner know that when you are away, you will genuinely miss him or her, but do need to focus on yourself. Encourage him or her to do the same.
4. If possible, establish regular time alone. Say every Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m., or every Saturday morning at your house, as opposed to at his place.
5. If your partner resists or can’t get over your need for time and space alone, keep talking about why it’s important to you and the relationship, and get him or her to read this article. Ask your partner to talk about why it’s hard for him or her to accept space and time away from you.
6. When taking time away from your partner, keep self-doubt and fear of whether you are doing the right thing at bay. Remind yourself that you and the relationship will be better off rather than worse off for you taking alone time. When the angst comes, know that it will pass and keep refocusing your attention on the tasks at hand.
7. If your partner absolutely refuses to give you alone time, it’s time for relationship intervention, as this will lead to serious problems down the road. For example, the person who is refusing to give you alone time now might be pushing you away in the not too distant future. Because everyone needs alone time in a relationship, and will eventually take it, regardless of his or her own views on the topic.
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