Telling the love of my life I need time alone
The almost impossible has happened — I met the most wonderful fella ever! We have so much in common and I feel like I have met my partner for life. But my love wants to spend every weekend together, spend one night together during the week, and go out after work sometimes, too. After the first two months, all of this love and time together is getting a little stifling for me. Last weekend I lied and said I was sick so I could have some time alone. I really want this relationship to work! I don't want hurt his feelings by saying I need a little breathing room, but I don't want to keep making up excuses to spend some time alone. It has been a long time since I was in a relationship and I don't want to muck this one up.
Thankful for new found love, but needs to reclaim some solitude!
Dear Thankful for newfound love, but needs to reclaim some solitude!,
All you need is love… and some “me time." You’re not alone in your concerns about spending lots of time with your partner, wanting space, and needing more alone time to nurture your sense of self. Every relationship has ups and downs, and you may not always be in sync with your partner. Maintaining a balance between your needs and those of your partner takes practice and is an essential component of fostering a healthy relationship. In fact, individuality is a key component of a healthy relationship, regardless of whether you've been together for two months or two decades. Fortunately, there are many ways for you to express your needs without hurting your partner’s feelings. The key is honest communication and working to set clear and mutually agreed upon boundaries. When you have these boundaries in place, it gives you space to pursue your own passions, recharge, and may even make the time you spend with your partner that much more special!
While it’s possible that the current quality time arrangements are what your partner enjoys and may want to continue, it’s also possible that he’s trying to spend so much time together because he thinks that’s what you want. Although subliminally you may believe that your partner has expressed the ideal amount of time he wants to spend with you, having a conversation about it is the only way to know for sure. Before having that conversation with him, you may consider the following ideas:
- Reflect on what you want. To prepare for your discussion with your partner, ask yourself a few key questions: Ideally, how much time might you like to spend with your partner? Why does that amount of time seem appropriate? What kinds of activities do you like to do with him? Can these activities be done in the amount of time you are suggesting spending together? If not, how will that make you feel and how will you communicate that to him?
- Lean into disagreements. It’s okay to disagree every now and then. Romantic partners may feel intimidated by conflict and avoid it in an effort to keep the peace. This is especially true of new or budding relationships. You have the right to feel safe expressing your concerns without disappointing your partner or fearing retaliation—and so does your partner. Avoiding these conflicts, however, may actually damage the relationship in the long run.
- Communicate honestly. Some relationships suffer from insufficient, dishonest, or ineffective communication. Your desire to be truthful about your needs is crucial in the facilitation of effective communication. Be honest and try to avoid harsh language that may come off as judgmental or hurtful (e.g., saying he is smothering you or being clingy, etc.). Your partner isn't a mind reader and may not pick up on subtle hints. Be clear, straightforward, concise, and try not to stray away from the topic of conversation. Consider using “I” rather than “you” statements to communicate your feelings.
- Negotiate and compromise. It’s a rare event when both or all parties involved in a relationship uniformly agree on the ideal amount of time to spend together. Consider your expectations along with your partner’s needs—your partner’s needs and desires are as valid as your own. A satisfactory compromise might consist of alternating weekends spent together in order to reconnect and spend quality time with yourself.
- Reinforce your enthusiasm. You might try to convey that even though you want more personal space, you’re still crazy about him. To strengthen your partner’s confidence, consider sandwiching the main substance of the conversation with positive sentiments about them and the relationship.
Many relationships are stifled by stagnation. By addressing this, you may have a chance at getting your needs met and avoiding potential dissatisfaction in the relationship. Not voicing your needs could also lead to built-up resentment or anger towards your partner. Having these types of conversations can help set the precedent for how you will communicate about other concerns in the future and is part of a healthy relationship! If having these conversations on your own feels overwhelming, you may choose to bring in the help of a mental health professional who specializes in helping couples. For even more information about navigating relationships, check out the Relationship Stuff category of the Go Ask Alice! Relationships archives.
Originally published Apr 26, 2013
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