Most of us look for closeness with those we love. However, even when the relationship is good, too much ‘closeness’ can be a negative, and can erode the bond between you long-term. When there is severe stress within the partnership, closeness itself can be a sign of extra trouble. So think about the space you and your partner need.
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Khalil Gibran said ‘…stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.’
Some couples can be co-dependent. They may do everything together and seem almost inseparable, but something is binding them that isn’t about love and fulfillment. For instance, each may be insecure, or one may be manipulating the other through guilt or fear. Possibly one likes to play the role of dependent child while the other acts as parent. Being inseparable is by no means an indicator of a wonderful partnership. So if you and your other half cling to each other, ask yourself why? Is this for good reasons? Maybe there are changes you could make.
If you have trouble giving space to your partner, this could be because you are insecure. If this is the case, ask yourself why? Does your partner truly give you reasons for doubt, or is your own lack of confidence the real problem?
If your partner has let you down in the past, both of you needs to understand why, and to find ways to move on. Cramping your partner’s style can never be the way to cement your relationship, long-term. Remember the saying ‘If you love something, let it go. If it comes back it’s yours. If it does not it was never yours in the first place.’ Such lessons can be very painful, but learning them leads to fulfillment in the end.
If your problem is insecurity due to past experiences and childhood issues, you owe it to both of you to work on this as a separate issue. Having a happy relationship can heal many wounds, it’s true. But unless you can truly move on, the wounds can re-open. It’s not healthy to expect your loved-one to make good any issues you have of abandonment or loss, so if this is a problem why not start by calling one of our supportive Readers for guidance.
If you very much need to be with your partner you may tell yourself you love them deeply. If they do not want to be with you as much, you may distress yourself by thinking they don’t love you, but that is not necessarily the same thing at all.
You may ‘need’ to be with your partner for many reasons that have nothing to do with real love. For instance you may be bored with your own company, insecure about the relationship or unhappy in some other way that you want your partner to put right. You may just be more extravert than your partner, so needing more company.
It is very important to be honest with yourself about your needs. Maybe some of these can be met elsewhere – your partner does not have to fulfill them all. One of the biggest mistakes we can make about loving partnerships is to believe that one other person can be everything to us. This is putting too much strain on a relationship. Often, certain needs are best met by friends, such as advice and companionship for some activities. It does not mean there is something ‘wrong’ with your partnership if this is the case.
You may ‘need’ your partner at your side, but what do they need? In order to express their inner nature and feel good about themselves, the one you love may need lots of space.
People can vary so much. For instance, a creative person may need time to go into their own little world. Someone who has a deep interest in a subject will need time for that interest. It’s part of them. In fact it may well be some of the reason you fell in love in the first place. It is so important to respect your partner’s self-expression.
Keeping your relationship vibrant means you each have space for experience. You can then bring that experience back into your life as a couple. This keeps you interested in each other, and even able to surprise each other. There’s no better way to fall in love again than to see your partner in a new light.
Like so many elements in a relationship, space needs to be talked about. Be honest about how much space you need. Do you sometimes feel confined? Frustrated at not having the time to do the things you love, or see certain people? Maybe you would like more time alone, just to exist in your own world. Maybe your partner would like these things. Telling each other about this is an important step in the relationship.
Come to an agreement about the times you spend apart and the interests you do not share. If you have promised not to contact your loved one when they are absorbed in something else, stick to this and save any issues or needs until you are together. Never sabotage your partner’s personal space by creating dramas and distractions, because that can damage your relationship.
If you are the one requiring space, make sure you keep to your agreement. If you have promised to be home at a certain time or to be with your partner, stick to this, even if it means setting an alarm. If you feel your ‘space’ hasn’t been enough, then you can renegotiate later, but for now keep your word.
Try to address any specific issues, if possible. For instance if your partner is jealous, reassure them that your other activities don’t involve being attracted to someone else. If you are the one giving the space, try to understand that space given grudgingly with a stop-watch isn’t going to feel like proper space, at all.
As with so many issues in life, taking a few moments to put yourself in the shoes of your partner can do so much for understanding and harmony.
This article has explored co-dependency, self-knowledge, needing, loving, accepting and negotiating space. Hopefully you now feel more able to give your partner the space they want. However, if you are struggling with more challenging issues, or your own internal wounds, you may need more help. There is no need to soldier on alone. Our empathic, helpful readers are just a call away, so contact us today and feel better.
PUBLISHED: 2 June 2016