The Challenge: Everyone wants an amazing relationship.
The Science: Surprisingly, a lack of alone time is the partners’ greatest complaint.
The Solution: Here’s how to thrive together by spending time apart.
Do you think the more time you spend with your partner, the better your relationship will be? You may be wrong.
Unexpectedly, the biggest complaint of relationship partners is a lack of “alone time.” In particular, they want free time to pursue personal passions.
The secret to a great relationship is to maintain a healthy amount of space between you and your partner. Research conducted by Dr. Terri Orbuch, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, shows that 29 percent of spouses reported they did not have enough “privacy or time for self” in their relationships. Of those who admitted to being unhappy, 11.5 percent said the reason was a lack of time for themselves—twice as many people as those who said they were unhappy with their sex lives!
Here’s the secret: to build a healthy relationship with a balanced connection, both partners need to protect their individualities. Building a groundwork of trust and respect that enables each partner to grow and flourish interdependently is the golden rule of healthy relationships. You and your partner are happy together but are also able to pursue your dreams, build your businesses, or get ahead in your careers. Sacrificing your needs or compromising your values in an attempt to “keep your relationship going” may well have the reverse effect!
Why People Are Afraid of Commitment
Deeply cherishing your significant other is a beautiful thing. Sadly, commitment is scarce these days. So many of us are afraid to commit because we associate commitment with being “tied down.”
We like our personal freedom. We want to keep that freedom. So, we stay single—to preserve our total independence, whereas we could simply give each other more freedom while being in a relationship!
Establishing and maintaining your own identity is crucial whether you’re in a relationship or not. If you’re in a committed relationship, it’s essential to know the difference between your separate lives and the ones you’ve built together.
You can give your partner the attention they need and still enjoy your “alone time.” You can have your “girls (or guys) nights out.” You can pursue your passions and achieve your career goals. The only difference is—at the end of the day—you’ll have someone there to support you.
Why Opposites Attract and Pursuing Your Own Interests Matters
Karla Mason Bergen, a researcher and professor at the University of Nebraska, advises partners in modern marriages to “take advantage of opportunities for personal fulfillment while still keeping their marriages intact.” After all, distance makes the heart grow fonder. Spending time apart will only increase your appreciation of your moments together. It will also help sustain a certain amount of mystery—that could keep the “spark” alive.
A relationship is built by two separate parts: you and your partner. It wouldn’t exist without both of you. A relationship can’t prosper as a single entity—it’s not designed to work this way. Your relationship began when the two of you were attracted to each other’s individual style, personality, and interests. You enjoyed the excitement of sharing the wonder of your separate lives with each other.
We’ve all heard the saying, “opposites attract.” Partners who have different strengths and interests bring different things to the table and are able to expand their abilities as a couple.
Wanting vs. Needing Someone
Have you ever felt that your partner wasn’t spending enough time with you? That may be a good thing! Probably, you are dealing with a mature person who wants you in his life but does not necessarily need you. When a person needs you, it doesn’t matter who you are—as long as you are there as a “crutch” for them. These “dependent types” will resent your wanting to do things without them. They might perceive your behavior as offensive or suspicious—and even assume you’re cheating on them. Dependent partners will drive you—and themselves—crazy.
When a person wants you in their life (and vice versa), it’s a much bigger compliment than neediness. While they could manage their life just fine without you, they’d rather not. They’d rather do it together—separately, but together.
If your relationship is faltering, take a step back. Your issues may have little to do with your connection and more to do with your individual needs. Perhaps you’ve lost sight of who you are and what drives you away from your partner. Maybe all you need is a little alone time—or a weekend away with friends. With the right amount of space and trust, you could find yourself wanting your partner more than ever before.