When you’re in a relationship, the only phrase worse than “we need to talk” is “I need space.” The minute we hear those words leave our partner’s mouth, we spiral into self-doubt.
We ask ourselves:
- What do they need space from? Me?
- How could that be? We barely see each other as is with our crazy work schedules.
- What did I do wrong?
We take needing space as cause for alarm, but it’s high time we redefine what it means to need space.
After a year of long-distance, my partner finally joined me in San Francisco a few weeks ago. Living together has been the dream that consumed my mind all year. For any of you who have been in a long-distance relationship, you know the feeling of longing to be together.
Long-distance aside, you’ve probably felt that way after being apart for even a day or two. For the past year, I’ve dreamt about the day we would finally be together and I would no longer need to feel the heartache of separation. Now that that day has come–like most things in life–it’s not what I expected.
Tonight is my first night alone since my partner moved in and I’m reminded of the importance of having space for myself. Space is a key ingredient in maintaining a successful relationship. It’s easy to get sucked into the allurement of togetherness. Space is a key ingredient in maintaining a successful relationship. It’s easy to get sucked into the allurement of togetherness.
Space is a key ingredient in maintaining a successful relationship. It’s easy to get sucked into the allurement of togetherness.
None of us want to feel alone–but it’s an unsustainable model. You have nothing to give if you don’t take time for yourself. I’ve been exploring the relationship between togetherness and space for years and I’ve concluded one thing: I CANNOT show up for my partner as my best self if I haven’t had enough time for me. Delta says it the clearest, “put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.”
Experiencing long-distance has helped with my insight into the balance between togetherness and space. There’s such a thing as too much space, just as there is too much togetherness. The question is, how do you find a happy medium? Let me ask you this: do you ever feel like you’re at your last fuse? Chances are, you’re not having enough “you” time. Do you feel like it’s hard to attend to your partner’s needs or like you just don’t have time to listen to what they’re saying? You guessed it.
Take a second to check in with your oxygen levels. What are some of your basic needs that you aren’t currently taking the time to meet? My challenge for you is to take an entire evening this week to yourself. No plans, no guilt. Do whatever your heart desires. Who knows, you might even learn something new about yourself in the process.
May Bartlett, CPCC is a beloved member of the Wellspace Life Coach team. She helps clients in various areas in life–including career, relationships, family, spirituality, and health, to name a few. May also offers relationship coaching for couples to maximize strengths and learn tools to strengthen problem areas.
*If you’d like to have an initial consultation with May, free of charge, you can book here.