It's human nature to want a little space. It's not healthy to be the same person in any relationship, whether it's loving or not. While sharing experiences and feelings is important, people also need time to express their individuality. For the relationship to stay healthy, you need to have your own hobbies, interests, and social life. Set limits and, every now and then, have time to yourself. Explore new hobbies and interests to get in touch with your own identity. If you need more space, there could be problems in your relationship. Look for ways to approach and fix problems.
Method 1 of 3: Setting Boundaries
Step 1. Identify your feelings
Before communicating your limits, it's important to get in touch with your feelings. Reflect on what you want and why. This way, you will be able to talk better with your partner, friend or relative.
- Think about reasons for wanting space. Are you feeling worn out or frustrated? Just want to have more time for yourself? Is the other person demanding too much of you?
- In a relationship, it's very easy to get involved in the other person's affairs. Try not to get too involved in what she is thinking and feeling. Instead, focus on yourself. Think about what the ideal amount of space would be and why you want it.
Step 2. Understand the other person's needs and make them understand yours
Limits have to do with one's personal needs and feelings. You need to clarify your needs and why you want more space, but also be able to hear the needs of the other side.
- We often keep our needs to ourselves. It's common to worry about hurting the other person by expressing your own needs. However, you must remember that this is important in the long run. Without expressing your own needs, you make room for creating resentment.
- Don't feel guilty about saying what you need. Be clear. For example, if you can't take the complaints your friend texts you throughout the day, as it causes distractions during your work, say “I need to focus on work during the day. I'm at a turning point in my career, so I can't deal with much outside of work during working hours.”
- The other person also deserves space. Since most feel shy about expressing what they need, try asking. Say "Is there something you need me to do?" or "Is there a need of yours that I'm ignoring?"
Step 3. Be as specific as possible
Saying something like “I need space” can be confusing. Instead, focus on specific things. Express how much space you need and when.
- Instead of saying “I need time after work”, be more specific. For example, “I know you miss me during the day, but I need an hour to rest after work before I can talk. Can I have a little time when I get home?”
- You can also ask the person specific questions to understand their space requirements. For example, “I know you like having time to yourself on the weekend. How much time do you need? Is there anything I can do to know when you want and don't want to talk?”.
Step 4. Express yourself with love
Long and successful relationships involve readjustments of distance from time to time. Reinforce this information. Remind the person that space is not permanent and is about allowing the person to develop as an individual while sharing a life with you.
- Say something like “I want you to understand that I love you and value our relationship. I want both of us to have room to grow and I don't want to drift apart.”
- Accept the other person's love too. If a person asks you for space, it's not to end the relationship. In fact, she just needs a little more time alone to be happy.
Method 2 of 3: Leveraging Individual Space
Step 1. Use the space to learn something new
Make a deal with your partner for both of you to have personal space and pursue your own interests and hobbies. If both of you have agreed that personal space is necessary, make the most of your moments. Instead of feeling depressed or lonely, take your time to learn something new.
- Try learning a new hobby. It's important to have individual interests. If something you've always wanted to learn, learn it. Take cooking classes. Learn to play an instrument.
- It is essential to know how to develop on your own. Your relationships with other people will be much more successful if you are more independent. Don't see space as something negative. You are learning new things and also getting to know yourself better.
Step 2. Look for small ways to maintain a healthy distance
Find opportunities throughout the week to make time for yourself. This is especially important if you live with the other person. Try to have specific times during the day or week to be alone and leave your partner alone too.
- Set aside one night a week to go out with your friends while your partner goes out with his.
- Choose a few hours of the week to be alone. For example, you might agree to each do one thing on Sunday mornings.
- Do activities that require space, such as reading, taking a bubble bath, or looking for a new job.
- While at home, remember space too. If your partner is reading or working on something, don't interrupt. It's important to be able to practice individual activities at home too.
Step 3. Choose your words well when communicating your need for space
Negotiation can generate a recurring discussion. You may need more space at certain times. The other person may also feel that way from time to time. When negotiating the meaning of space, always remember to be kind and respectful.
- Always speak according to your feelings. Don't say “You need to give me more space when I get home from work. You can't expect me to watch television with you every day.”
- Instead, focus on yourself. Use "I" phrases. For example, “I need more space when I get home from work. I don't always feel good about watching television. Sometimes I just prefer to read a book”.
Step 4. Avoid guilt feelings
You shouldn't feel guilty about wanting space. In a relationship, this is normal and healthy. Your independence will be at risk if you can't get a relative, friend or partner to make room for you.
Likewise, you shouldn't make the other person feel guilty about needing space. Never make another person feel guilty or force them to stay with you if they don't want to. For example, don't say things like “I don't think you care about me” or “I don't think I mean much to you”
Method 3 of 3: Dealing With Problems
Step 1. Make sure you are not in a codependent relationship
People in such relationships are unable to be alone. If you feel that you are feeling this way, then both of you should seek professional help. Look for symptoms of codependency so you can identify when it is occurring and whether you need to seek help.
- Codependency is more common in people with low self-esteem, which is why they so seek validation from other people.
- If you or the other person is reactionary, that's another sign of codependency. The boundaries are not very clear and opinions and feelings are taken personally. For example, your boyfriend thinks you disagree with him politically to attack him personally.
- Control is a big issue in codependent relationships. If you need to control the other person or they need to control you, that's a bad sign.
Step 2. Be willing to give in
Space can be positive in a relationship. However, boundaries need to be set as a team. The other person may need more or less space. Be willing to compromise when it comes to negotiating space.
- Listen to what the other person has to say and needs. Both must be able to express themselves in ways that clarify their feelings. Say something like “This need is not about you. It has to do with who I am”.
- Try to think of a compromise where both needs are met. For example, your boyfriend thinks you should spend six nights a week at his house. You don't want to spend more than three. Both can agree on four nights a week, for example. You can also agree to stay more nights at your boyfriend's house, as long as he makes room for you when you're there.
Step 3. Pay attention to the other person, too
It's not nice to invade someone else's space. In a relationship, pay attention to the other person. Maybe she's giving you signals you're not noticing.
- Ignoring a person's signals is unfair. Even if she doesn't meet all your needs, pay attention to what she needs too. You may have to wait a few minutes or a few hours to get the attention you need.
- For example, your girlfriend works from home from six in the morning to two in the afternoon. You are trying to talk to her during office hours and she only responds with monosyllabic words. This is an indication that she is busy. This is a time when she needs space.
- Do some sport or exercise in your spare time. Exercise is a great way to be alone and relieve stress, which in the long run can be very beneficial to a relationship.
- Once you've communicated about the need for space, follow the advice you've given. Don't be annoyed if your partner wants to be alone.