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How to Give Your Partner Space Without Pushing Them Away

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How to Give Your Partner Space Without Pushing Them Away
How to Give Your Partner Space Without Pushing Them Away

Having space in a relationship is important. But giving your partner too much space can make them feel neglected, unloved, and drive them away. So how do you find the right balance? How do you give your partner breathing room without making them feel abandoned?

Let’s dive in.

Why Space is Important in Relationships

We all need some degree of autonomy and independence in our relationships. Spending every single moment together creates an unhealthy dynamic where one person’s identity gets lost in the relationship. Partners can begin to feel smothered, stifled, and restless.

Space allows both people to:

  • Maintain their sense of self outside the relationship
  • Pursue individual interests and hobbies
  • Spend time with friends and family without their partner
  • Get a mental/emotional break from the relationship
  • Come back to the relationship with renewed appreciation

Without space, relationships can become enmeshed and codependent. Partners lose perspective, get burnt out with each other’s company, and struggle to function independently.

So space is essential. But too much space can be damaging too. Here’s how to find the sweet spot.

What are the Signs Your Partner Needs More Space

How do you know if your partner needs some breathing room? Look for these signs:

  • They seem irritable, tense, restless, or withdrawn around you
  • They jump at any chance to hang out away from you
  • They express feeling suffocated or complain that you’re smothering them
  • They have fewer individual hobbies, interests, or time with friends
  • They immediately say “yes” to any chance to get away
  • They prioritize work, children, pets, or hobbies over couple time

If you notice a pattern of these behaviors, it could indicate your partner needs more personal space. The next step is having an open, compassionate conversation about it.

Talking to Your Partner About Needing Space

Don’t accuse or blame your partner for their need for space. Everyone requires different levels of independence. Simply explain what you’ve noticed and ask what would help them feel less smothered.

Use “I” statements like “I’ve noticed you seem really eager to spend time away from me lately. Are you needing more space in our relationship?” This avoids putting them on the defensive.

Be prepared to listen without judgment. Let them explain their feelings and perspective fully. Work together to find solutions and compromises that satisfy you both.

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Set clear boundaries and expectations around how much space feels comfortable for each of you. Agree on how much separate free time per week feels right. Consider scheduling designated date nights or quality time as well to stay connected.

Give Them Space While Providing Reassurance

Once you’ve agreed to give your partner more autonomy, it’s important to follow through consistently. Don’t suffocate them when they pursue independent activities. But also reassure them of your love and commitment.

Avoid guilt trips or clinginess. Statements like “you’re choosing your friends over me” or “you don’t really love me” will only push them further away. Accept their need for breathing room.

Express your support. Tell them genuinely that you’re glad they’re taking time to enjoy their own interests. Avoid guilt-tripping or passive aggressiveness.

Schedule quality time together. Make sure you still prioritize regular one-on-one dates, activities, and focused couple time. This prevents you from drifting too far apart.

Check in frequently. Touch base via text, call or in person periodically throughout the day. Say things like “Thinking of you! Have fun with your friends tonight!” This prevents them from feeling neglected.

Don’t overanalyze their space. Don’t constantly question if their independent activities mean they’re unhappy with you or the relationship. Take it at face value that they simply need this for themselves.

Stay Busy Yourself

When your partner needs more autonomy, take the opportunity to nurture your own friendships, hobbies, career, and interests.

Make time for your friends. Reconnect with old pals or make new ones. Plan get-togethers, evenings out, or weekend activities. You’ll feel less dependent on your partner for socialization.

Pursue your own hobbies. What activities and interests have you been neglecting? Take a class, join a club, work on DIY projects, play sports – anything that engages you independently.

Focus on professional growth. Dive into work projects, networking events, skill-building courses, or career planning. Becoming engrossed in your own professional path is productive and empowering.

Tackle your personal to-do list. We all have lingering tasks and responsibilities like medical appointments, finances, home organization projects, etc. Get busy chipping away at your personal to-do list.

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The busier you are with your own fulfilling activities, the less you’ll be inclined to crowd your partner or demand their constant company. Use this time to become your best self.

Set Healthy Boundaries Around Space

While you want to honor your partner’s need for autonomy, it’s reasonable to set some boundaries so you don’t feel abandoned.

Some healthy boundaries include:

  • Establish regular check-ins (via text, call, video chat, or in person)
  • Schedule non-cancelable quality time like date nights
  • Agree neither of you will go more than X days without responding to messages
  • Set limits on solo overnights away or vacations without the other
  • Ensure you both make the relationship a priority amid outside activities
  • Expect open, frequent communication from your partner

Discuss any lingering insecurities honestly with your partner. For example, express if you start to feel anxious or neglected if they don’t check in for extended periods. Find compromises so you both feel reassured and respected.

Use Space as an Opportunity to Improve the Relationship

Instead of seeing your partner’s need for autonomy as a threat, view it as an opportunity to evolve your relationship in positive ways.

You can both use the space to:

  • Reflect on your own behaviors and how to be a better partner
  • Work through individual problems or flaws that strain the relationship
  • Pursue self-improvement goals like getting healthier, engaging in therapy, developing new skills
  • Build anticipation and appreciation for your limited time together
  • Romance each other by writing love notes, planning special dates, buying small gifts
  • Have deeper conversations when you reconnect after time apart

Approach this period of space as time to invest in improving yourselves and your bond. This will enable you to come back stronger and take your relationship to deeper levels.

When Space Becomes Problematic

While space in relationships is normal, too much distance can jeopardize intimacy, trust, and stability in the relationship.

Signs that space has gone too far include:

  • Lack of communication for days or even weeks
  • Canceling or avoiding quality time repeatedly
  • Preferring to be apart rather than together
  • Acting cold, aloof, untrusting, or uninterested when together
  • Questioning whether you want to stay in the relationship
  • Building a separate life that excludes your partner
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If you recognize these patterns, have an honest talk. Express that the level of distance has gone too far and is threatening the relationship’s foundations. Insist on reasonable compromises, like scheduling non-cancelable quality time twice per week and daily check-ins.

If your partner refuses to reconnect or claims they no longer want the relationship, it may be time to walk away. You deserve a partner who makes you a priority, not someone who pushes you away. Don’t cling to someone who has emotionally checked out.

Seek Couples Counseling if Needed

If you’re struggling to get back in sync after a period of too much distance, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A couples counselor can help you:

  • Identify the roots of the space issues: lack of intimacy, personal problems, stagnation in the relationship, lack of boundaries, etc.
  • Learn skills to communicate needs and listen effectively as partners
  • Find healthy compromises and boundaries around time together and apart
  • Heal rifts from periods of distance through exercises, dialogue, and interventions
  • Get perspective from an unbiased third party
  • Decide if the relationship with your partner is worth continuing or maybe not

Even just a few counseling sessions can get your relationship back on solid ground. Don’t be afraid to seek outside help when you’ve hit an impasse.

In Conclusion

It’s natural for partners to need personal space in relationships. But too much distance can make one person feel abandoned and jeopardize the bond you’ve built. Strive to find a healthy balance based on open communication, reassurance, maintaining intimacy, respecting each other’s needs, and spending focused quality time together.

If you encounter challenges around conflicting space needs, view it as an opportunity to improve yourselves and your relationship. Set healthy boundaries, stay busy with your own life pursuits, and seek counseling if you can’t reconnect on your own.

With some compromises and mutual understanding, you can give your partner breathing room while keeping the relationship secure. Focus on your love, commitment and desire to make it work. With the right balance of space and closeness, your bond will only grow stronger.

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