There was far too much time at the start of the new coronavirus pandemic. Many of us spent this time trying to figure out what would happen next. Some of us compulsively picked up new hobbies to distract us, but many of us found that we suddenly had more time to spend with the people we were living with. Yes, this newfound time was scary, but it was also a rare opportunity to connect with loved ones or flatmates. Maybe cozy chats over morning coffee were a new possibility, or maybe a mutual love for reality television developed.
But here’s the thing: we’ve been in the pandemic for a few months now and we’re all still fine together. Even if you are someone who has returned to work and other activities, much of your time is likely still to be around your home and the people you live with. So it is perfectly normal if you want more solo time. How can you tell your preferred quarantine partner that you want to see them? Love island alone? Is it terrible to explain to your loved one that even though you are so happy that they enjoy your morning workout (#swolemate), exercise was always something you did alone?
It can be difficult to let people know you need a little space ̵
1. Find out what the time is like for you alone.
“Satisfied, happy, and whole people are good partners,” Cicely Horsham-Brathwaite, Ph.D., psychologist and mindset coach, told SELF. “And sometimes, in order to feel that way, we need an opportunity to be with ourselves emotionally or … physically.” That said, time alone means different things to different people, explains Horsham-Brathwaite. Do you need to leave your home for a while – do you prefer a long, leisurely hike? Or are you happiest sitting in the same room with your partner without speaking? Maybe time alone just means putting on noise-canceling headphones and being allowed to check out for a while? Before starting a conversation about your “need for space,” have an honest conversation with yourself to find out so that you can articulate it on purpose.
2. And be specific about your question.
Often times, in a fit of frustration, we can toss around phrases like “I just need some space”. But the term “space” can conjure up anything from an afternoon bath to a complete breakup. If you are reaching out to your partner for a little waste of time, make sure you are being honest and specifically for your needs (see tip 1). Doing this will alleviate some of the anxiety that may arise in explaining that you need some space.
3. Reassure your partner that solo time doesn’t mean you want to emotionally Distance.
Even if you are absolutely certain that it will only take you “a minute” and immediately return to cuddling, it is entirely possible that you are living with someone who does not need time alone (or who particularly understands). However, that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve time for yourself. However, it does mean that you should approach them with a lot of compassion and not speak in a way that makes them feel that their approach to the relationship is wrong. “Some people charge themselves over time, but others actually feel charged when they are around people,” Vernessa Roberts, Psy.D., a consultative psychologist, told SELF.
4. Start a discussion, not an argument.
If your partner is sulking or upset, please know that you are still entitled to some private time. Try to get hold of your desire and remember that it is important to attend to your needs in order to be a good partner. “We don’t have to make an argument to buy space,” explains Roberts, adding that you can focus the conversation on you. For example, instead of saying, “Even though your breathing is slowly bothering me,” you can opt for something less harsh and more focused than what you want to gain with more space, rather than how your recent togetherness is making you feel less happy . For example: “On Tuesdays after work I would like to use this time to spend an hour alone.” Horsham-Brathwaite also says if you are afraid of your partner’s reaction you should seek help from a professional for additional assistance.
5. If you feel guilty about needing space, try to understand and redefine those feelings.
It is tempting to think that your desire for time on your own is selfish, but anyone can benefit from TBH. “Just because you don’t have a visceral need for it [space] doesn’t mean it can’t be helpful, ”explains Horsham-Brathwaite. This does not mean that you should run and tell your partner that you are doing them a favor by talking loudly about how it is going to take you a minute. It simply means that you shouldn’t be wasting your precious time alone wondering if you really deserve it (you do). So many things have changed in the past few months, and your need for some time alone may have increased. This isn’t necessarily a red flag to indicate that something is wrong with you or your relationship. “Spending time apart is actually a sign of a healthy relationship,” says Roberts.
6. Plan to make your reunion special.
Planning and communication are especially important if your partner has an anxious attachment style, says Harshom-Brathwaite. “When a partner says, ‘I need space,’ it can increase their fear. I think one of the ways to make up for this is to… add some planning, ”she says. Horsham-Brathwaite says you can plan a good time leading to your “time to yourself” or make your reunion an event. For example, she suggests you pack a picnic to reconnect or just dance together in the living room – something to affirm that your couple time is as valued as the time you spend apart. “Space will actually improve the relationship,” says Roberts.