Individual Counseling, Couples Counseling and Sex Therapy

How To Suffocate Your Partner

I need space! Who here has never heard that and panicked? We immediately think it means that the person doesn’t want us anymore. But we couldn’t be more wrong.couples counseling, space needs in relationships

People have differing needs for space. Some people love being with their partners all of the time. Others are quite happy being apart for long stretches. Space needs are inherent in personality just like being a “morning person” or a “night person.” There are many reasons for these differing needs, which I won’t go into here. What is important is that everyone is different, and there is no “right way” of doing things.

People who need more space in relationships can get irritable if they don’t get enough “alone” time. In fact, according to a recent article titled “Need Space in a Relationship? Just Don’t Say It That Way” in the Wall Street Journal, 29% of people surveyed reported they didn’t get enough “alone” time. That’s a lot of grumpy people. The article also points out that women are more likely to suffer from this, since they usually have more social contacts than men, and are usually responsible for family caretaking.

I can’t tell you how many times in my office I have seen a couple where the man is literally begging for affection and the wife just can’t take yet another demand on her time. It’s a vicious cycle, and very difficult to break if it has gone on too long.

Space needs, just like anything else in relationships, need to be negotiated. There has to be a compromise and an understanding — and even a specific plan or schedule. Just as time is allocated for appointments, work, etc., time should also be allocated for “me time.” The together-partner needs to understand that the space-partner doesn’t love them any less, and that the need for space is a very personal one, and can be just as essential as proper sleep and nutrition. The space-partner needs to understand that they aren’t single anymore, and they can’t have everything that they want. In order to carve out the “me time” they need, they may need to give up an outside activity. They should also take care to assure the together-partner of their love and commitment.

As with most things in relationships, communication is key. Set up a regular time with your mate to discuss “relationship business” and add “alone time” to the agenda. Do not discuss these, or other such relationship business issues, on date night. Which of course you are having regularly, correct?

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