Alone time… this subject matter came up a few weeks ago while I was giving a client advice on relationships. Her and her boyfriend had been dating for a little over two years and she felt as if things were changing for the worst. When they first got together they did everything together (except use the bathroom), and she loved every minute of it.
Fast-forward a year and a half and her boyfriend started making plans that didn’t include her. “I don’t know what this means. He’s been having poker nights with his friends and taking day trips by himself to clear his mind”.
* Why does he need to clear his mind?
* Why can’t I play poker too?
* Is it something I did wrong?
* Is he cheating?
* Is the relationship almost over?
She had so many questions and seemed so hurt that the man of her dreams was now actively seeking time alone.
My client is not alone here; this is a common dilemma many women face in a long-term union. Of course this can also arise in a new relationship when one person is more available or more involved than the other.
The big question is: Is alone time necessary for a healthy relationship? If so, how much space should you actually give?
Why You May be Afraid to Give Space
If I’m going to answer the questions truthfully, you must first understand some of the underlying reasons why you may be fearful to give your guy the space he’s asking for:
Trust Issues – At the top of the list is trust issues. Every time a relationship ends because of lies, it makes it that much harder to trust in the future. Men and women become fearful that if they allow space or “freedom” in the relationship, their partner is going to run off with the next attractive person they see. Therefore they make up the concept that if they can keep their significant other close to them at all times, there will be no room for lies or infidelity.
Insecurities – A few experiences in a bad relationship can diminish any confidence you might have in yourself or in future relationships. Women and men (though they’d rather die than admit that out loud) deal with insecurity problems that if not kept in line, can destroy a relationship. You become fearful that they’ll find someone better if they’re not around you, or that they’ll have fun without you around. Some even feel validated by having someone around and can’t fathom them not being there.
We’ve all had our fair share of jerks. Past hurtful experiences essentially make it more challenging to move forward in a new relationship. For many people, the fear to give their partner alone time, comes from not truly healing what happened to you in the past. Familiar encounters in your new and healthy relationship cause you to mentally revert to what has happened, which may not be relative to your present situation…
If your ex had a habit of going out clubbing every weekend and ended up cheating on you, then you’re going to have extreme difficulties in allowing your new boyfriend go out on the weekends.
Each one of these reasons is understandable. Yet each of these explanations can lead to the demise of a perfectly good relationship. Yes, you should learn from your past relationships so that you do not make the same mistakes. The best advice on relationships I can give you is that just because you’ve been through a difficult time doesn’t mean you treat the new guy like he’s the villain.
Benefits of Giving Space in Your Relationship
Seeing the reward of your actions upfront can often make taking the actions a lot easier. If you knew that giving space would lead to your guy getting down on bended knee to propose, chances are you’d happily kiss him and let him be on his merry way. So let’s discuss the reward of giving your partner space in the relationship.
Builds Trust – without trust the relationship will essentially fall by the wayside leaving you picking your heart up off the floor. If you cannot truly trust the person you’re with, it will make every aspect of being in a relationship ten times more challenging to get through. If you can’t trust him at a poker night with the guys, how can you trust him to be the provider and confidant you want in a relationship? When you allow him time to himself, it lets him know that you trust him. If he’s really a prince charming, he’s going to value that trust and prove himself to you.
Allows for Individuality – no matter how you slice it, you are two individuals. Even if you enjoy a lot of the same things, you’re individuals, and part of what attracted you to each other in the first place was the uniqueness. You need that space to just be you. To let your hair down and not be afraid to do things you like. Time alone allows for you to explore who you are individually. Things that you might not want to experience with each other.
Builds Anticipation – being together every waking moment in the beginning of a relationship is normal. In fact it’s almost expected. Now imagine if you were with the same person for five years straight. You’ve never done anything separate from each other besides use the restroom. Chances are it would get pretty boring and stale after a while. How can you long for someone if you’re never given the time to miss them? Time apart allows you to miss one another. It allows you to create fresh memories that you can share with each other. It builds the anticipation until you see each other again.
How Much Time is Enough?
So you’ve seen the reward to allowing for time apart. How much time should you give? Is there a right or wrong answer?
Truth be told, there is no right or wrong answer here. The only thing that remains constant is the importance of time apart. How much time you spend apart will boil down to a few factors: your personality and preferences, your partner’s personality and preferences, and the compromise you make.
Communication is one tidbit of advice on relationships you’ll hear me give out often. Sit down and talk with your significant other about alone time. How you feel about it, how much time you’d like to spend apart, and what their views are on it.
You may find that he only wants to spend one day per month doing his thing, or you could find that you both would like to have at least a weekend out of every month to yourselves. Whatever the outcome is, being on the same page is the number one rule to avoiding conflict down the line.
A truly healthy relationship knows how to find balance between spending time together and time apart.
Take an honest and open look in the mirror and determine if your reluctance to allow your partner time alone is because of insecurities, trust issues, or simple personality differences.
Be confident in the woman that you are, take that alone time to focus on things you love, and communicate if the need arises. When you willingly give him his space, there is no need for him to have to ask you for it. More importantly, this will ultimately keep him closer, instead of sending him running in the other direction.