This quote puts words to our feelings about this topic. We try to balance closeness and personal space in our relationship. Every relationship is different and talking about the right mix of togetherness and separateness for you can be a great investment!
We typically organize our time so that the quality of connection is roughly equal to the quality of personal space. When this balance goes out of whack, it’s hard for us to bring our best selves to the relationship and to be honest, we get irritated! Why? Simply put, because too much connection may feel like smothering, while too much separation may feel like neglect. Can anyone else relate?
For example, recently and due to really busy joint schedules (class, appointments, family and social commitments), we were spending almost all of our time outside of work together. This was too much for us because we left no time for our individual needs. So, a couple of weekends ago, we decided to cancel some of our joint plans to schedule personal time.
For some live coverage on this, head to our Instagram highlights to see what we each did with our personal time.
It may seem counter-intuitive to make room for personal space, however here are the top 3 reasons why we feel it’s important for us and our relationship!
Personal space fuels desire and attraction
If you've been following us on social media recently, you know we are all about Esther Perel's work right now. Our friends recommended her podcast, “Where should we begin?”, and her book, “Mating In Captivity”. Absolute jewels!
Esther Perel explores the tension between the human need for security (closeness, belonging, predictability, etc) and for freedom (desire, mystery, adventure, distance, etc.). In her book, she suggests that “love enjoys knowing everything about you; desire needs mystery” (37).
Just like fire needs air to burn, a relationship needs distance to fuel mystery, freedom and those things that build up desire. Perhaps you’ve experienced this before after you've seen your partner in a different light and things got spicier? That’s the kind of desire and attraction that can come from a healthy dose of personal space.
Personal space fuels personal growth and vitality
What do YOU love to do, outside of the things you do together? When’s the last time you did YOU and took care of yourself?
It's hard to love someone who is not self-sufficient or who doesn't exercise self-love. One person cannot fulfill all your need and vice versa.
Personal space, in our experiences, helps us keep sight of ourselves. It’s a vehicle for building our individual identities, interests, friendships, values, and ambitions that fuel our self-worth and self-love... The kind of self-worth that is bolstered by, but not dependent on, each other.
Personal space fuels closeness
Here’s the kicker! Carving out time for personal space (with others, with individual pursuits, etc.) helps us to appreciate our partnership even more.
This goes back to the common saying that 'distance makes the heart grow fonder'. In other words, not only does personal space build desire and attraction, but it also builds emotional closeness via appreciation!
How to introduce healthy doses of personal space?
Every relationship is different and calls for different degrees of closeness versus distance at various times, but it's important to check in with each other.
It may not be easy to tell your partner(s) that you need some space or to hear from them that they need space, even if it’s just for an evening or a few hours. However, it might be essential to your relationship. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Could you use some personal space in your day to day life to make room for desire, to take care of yourself, or to refuel appreciation?
- What gives you energy or makes you feel engaged in life? Does everything you do or decide revolve around your relationship? Or, do you have individual pursuits and make time for them?
- Does your partner make time for their own needs from time to time? Do they feel it's enough?
We recommend having a loving conversation with your partner to see what comes up! And, keep in mind that your needs for closeness and distance may change from day to day, so it's important to have ongoing dialogue and flexibility.
Let us know your thoughts, feelings or actions on social or start a discussion with the Relationship Zen Community on our Facebook Group!
With love and light,