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Love is space

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Love is space

How to Give Each Other Space

It is human nature to crave space. It's not healthy to be the same person in any relationship, romantic or otherwise. While sharing experiences and feelings can bring many wonderful things to a relationship, you need time to be an individual as well. In order for a relationship to be healthy, you should have your own hobbies, interests, and social life. Work on establishing firm boundaries. From there, make the most of your alone time. Explore new hobbies and interests to get in touch with your own identity. If you need more space, there may be problems in your relationship. Look for ways to address and fix any underlying issues.

Establishing Boundaries

Identify your feelings. Before communicating your boundaries, it's important to get in touch with your feelings. Spend some time considering what you want and why. This way, you can best convey that to your partner, friend, or family member.
  • Think about why you need space. Are you feeling drained or frustrated? Do you just want more time for yourself? Is the other person asking you for too much of your emotional energy?
  • In a relationship, you often get too swept up in another person's issues. Try to disengage from what the other person is thinking and feeling. Instead, focus on yourself. Think about your ideal amount of space, and why you need that space.
Learn one another's needs. It's important the other person understands your needs. Boundaries are rooted in personal needs and feelings. You need to make your personal needs clear so the other person understands why space is necessary. You should also be willing to listen to the other person's needs.
  • Oftentimes, you keep your needs to yourself. You may worry about upsetting another person by expressing certain needs. However, it's important to remember expressing needs is better in the long term. If you let your needs go unrecognized, resentment can build.
  • Don't feel guilty telling the other person what you need from them. Be upfront about this. For example, you can't handle a friend's constant negative texts during the day anymore, as this emotional baggage distracts you from your work. Say something like, "I need to focus on my job during the day. I'm at a critical point in my career, so I can't handle a lot besides work emotionally during the workday."
  • You want to give the other person adequate space as well. As people are shy about expressing needs, ask the person something. Try something like, "Is there anything you need from me?" or "Do you have any needs I'm not meeting?"
Be as specific as possible. Saying something like, "I need space" can be confusing. Instead, work on giving specifics. Express how much space you need and when you need it.
  • Instead of saying, "I need time to myself after work," strive for specifics. For example, "I know you miss me during the day, but I need half an hour to unwind after work before I can really have a conversation. Can you give me that time to myself when I get home?"
  • You can also ask the other person for specifics, so you understand their need for space. For example, "I know you like to have some time to yourself on the weekends. How much time do you need? Is there any way I can tell when you do and don't want to talk?"
Express yourself with love. Successful long term relationships involve readjusting distance on occasion. Reassure the other person of this. Remind them that this is not about wanting permanent space; it's about allowing for personal growth space as you continue to share your lives together.

  • Say something like, "I want you to understand that I love you and I value this relationship. I want space to help us grow, not because I want things to end."
  • You should also accept the other person's love. Remember, if someone asks you for space, it does not mean the relationship is ending. It just means the other person needs a bit more alone time to be happy.

Navigating Individual Space

Use space to learn something new. Make a deal with your partner that it is time for both of you to reclaim personal space and pursue your own interests and hobbies some of the time. If you and another person have mutually agreed space is necessary, you can both try to make the most of it. Instead of wallowing or feeling lonely, take the time to learn something new.

  • Try learning a new hobby. It's important you and the other person have your own interests. If there's something you've always wanted to try, try it. Take a cooking class. Teach yourself to sew.
  • It's vital to know how to grow alone. Your relationships with others will be more successful if you're more independent. Do not view space as negative. You're learning to try new things and, in turn, getting to know yourself better.
Look for small ways to maintain healthy space. Find opportunities throughout the week for small amounts of space. This is especially important in a romantic relationship if you and your partner live together. Try to have specific times during the day or the week where the two of you seek space.
  • Have one night a week where you each go out with your own friends.
  • Choose a few hours each weekend when you can spend time apart. For example, you can each agree to spend Sunday mornings pursuing your own activities.
  • Do activities that require space, such as reading, taking a bubble bath, or going after a new job.
  • While at home, remember to keep space in mind. If your partner is reading or working on something, don't interrupt. It's important to be able to indulge in solitary activities when at home.
Choose words wisely when the need for space resurfaces. Negotiating space will be an ongoing discussion. There may be times when you need to request more space. The other person may also need more space at times. When renegotiating what space means, both you and the other person should be kind and respectful.

  • Always talk in terms of your own feelings. Do not say something like, "You need to give me more time at the end of the day to unwind alone. You can't expect me to watch television with you every night."
  • Rephrase this focusing on yourself. Use "I" more than you use "you." For example, "I need more space at the end of the day. I don't always want to watch television with you. Sometimes, I just want to read a book alone."
Avoid feelings of guilt. You should not feel guilty for wanting your own space. It is normal and healthy to need space in a relationship. You risk co-dependency if you don't have space from a partner, friend, or family member.
  • In turn, do not make the other person feel guilty for needing space. Never guilt-trip someone, or pressure them to spend time with you when they don't want to. For example, don’t say things like, "I guess you don't really care about me" or "I see how little I mean to you..."

Addressing Potential Problems

Make sure you are not involved in codependent relationship. Those in a codependent relationship feel an inability to stand alone. Co-dependent people are unable to exist on their own. If you do feel this is the underlying problem, both of you may need to seek professional assistance. Watch out for symptoms of co-dependency so you know when, and if, to seek help.

  • Co-dependent people tend to have low self-esteem, which is why they seek validation from others.
  • If you or the other person is reactionary, this is another sign of co-dependency. As boundaries are blurred in a co-dependent relationship, opinions and feelings are taken very personally. For example, your boyfriend thinks the fact you disagree with him on a political issue is a personal attack.
  • Control is a major issue in co-dependent relationships. If you need to control the other person, or if the other person needs to control you, this is a sign the relationship may be co-dependent.
Be willing to compromise. Space can be positive in a relationship. However, boundaries must be established as a team. The other person may need more or less space than you. Be willing to compromise when it comes to negotiating space.
  • Make sure to listen to what the other person needs as well. Both you and the other person should express yourself in a way that emphasizes personal feeling. Say things like, "This need has nothing to do with you. It's just how I'm made."
  • Try to think of compromise where both people's needs are met to a degree. For example, your boyfriend thinks you should spend six nights a week at his place. You don't want to spend more than three nights a week there. Maybe both of you could accept four nights a week as a compromise. You could also agree to spend more nights at your boyfriend's place, as long as he gives you space while you're there.
Tune in to your the other person's signals. You want to make sure you're not accidentally invading someone's space. When navigating a relationship, pay attention to the other person. They may be giving you signals you're missing.
  • Ignoring someone's signals is inconsiderate. Even if you have a need that you want met, pay attention to whether the other person is able to meet that need. You may have to wait a few minutes, or a few hours, before you can get the attention you need.
  • For example, your girlfriend works from home and usually works from 6AM to 2PM. You're trying to chat with her while she's clearly working, and she's giving monosyllabic answers. She's signaling that she's busy. You should back off and give her some space.

Love is space and time measured by the heart. 
Happy Valentine's Day.

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