All couples need space.
Many people believe that wanting to be away from your partner means that the relationship is going sour. They think that if they truly loved them, they would want to be with them 24/7. In reality, this is not the case. You can love someone from the bottom of your heart and still need time to yourself. Licensed marriage and family therapist Dr. Racine Henry, LMFT, spoke to Bustle and explained: “We don’t stop being individual people when we enter a relationship. It is perfectly normal to maintain your individual interests and relationships while having a romantic partner.” If your partner wants space, do not worry: they still love you. In fact, when a couple spends time apart they begin to appreciate each other more as it gives them time to miss one another.
There are 12 signs your partner needs space.
1. They are in a bad mood (for no reason).
If your partner has been short-tempered and cranky lately, they might require some time alone. Of course, their need for space does not excuse them if they have been disrespectful or rude. However, light crankiness should not be taken to heart. If you notice that your partner has been more irritable than usual, give them some space. Focus on yourself for a while and give them the time to do so too.
2. They no longer have opinions.
Your partner might have started to become too reliant on you if they do not seem to have their own opinions. Speaking to Bustle, Dr. Jill Muray explained that this is a clear sign that they need to “re-learn how to stand on their own two feet.” If you find this relatable, try to encourage your partner to do things independently so that they can retain their sense of individuality.
3. They have been closed off (physically).
If they turn away from you in bed or sit on the opposite end of the couch, they might need some time alone. Of course, this behavior can also reveal that there are deeper issues. In this case, it is best to confront your partner and ask what is wrong. Nevertheless, author and relationship expert Susan Winter suggests that you give them space immediately: “Get out of the house if you live together. Go for a walk. Go to the gym. Remove yourself from [the] space. When you return you’ll see a change in their mood for the better.”
4. They have become codependent.
Is your partner constantly texting you? Have they become incapable of making a decision without getting your approval? If so, they are codependent. Codependency can ruin a relationship and it can also be detrimental to one’s mental and emotional wellbeing. Therefore, if you have noticed codependent traits in your partner, you must encourage them to be more independent and discover who they are.
5. They’ve suddenly changed their schedule.
Suddenly waking up earlier than you or going to bed after you might mean that your partner is trying to carve out some alone time. Do not view this as a sign that your relationship is in trouble. In fact, let them know that you are aware (and okay) with this.
6. They have become protective of their hobbies.
If your partner has suddenly started to fiercely guard their hobbies and friends, they might be hinting that they want time away from you. While this may undoubtedly hurt — especially if you are used to being together all the time — it is not a bad thing. Talk to them and try to understand what is going on. If they say they need space, give it to them.
7. They have a lot going on right now.
Sometimes, when we are going through a difficult time, we want to be alone. Whether your partner is struggling with work-related, financial, or family problems, they might need space to work through what is happening. Winter says, “It’s hard to split one’s attention and focus. As a partner, they should pay attention to you, but as a person who’s stressed they need to focus on [their personal concerns].” Everybody copes differently and if your partner needs to be alone, let them.
8. They are giving off a strange vibe.
While many different things can make your relationship feel different, too much time together is one reason why the energy might have changed. Try to spend some time apart and do things that you are passionate about. Upon reconvening, you might notice that things have returned to their normal state.
9. They give you short answers.
If the way you communicate has changed, you might be worried. While short answers may sometimes be a cause for concern, they are harmless when they signify that your partner just needs time alone. Beth Ribarsky, Ph.D., a professor and relationship expert, suggests that you take a step back and give them space. “You might say something like, “You sound really worn out. Why don’t you relax, and if you want to talk later, I’ll be here,'” Ribarsky said.
10. They run strange errands.
Is your partner constantly trying to get out of the house by running odd errands? If so, they might just be trying to get some alone time. Ribarsky notes that you should let them do so: “A healthy relationship [means having] time and space away from one another. And, perhaps you should initiate your own solo venture and give your partner a bit of time at home alone.”
11. They drop hints.
Ribarsky takes the previous point further as she explains, “If you volunteer to go to the store with them, they might add on another task they know you hate. If you respond with, ‘Oh, I don’t mind’ and they say, ‘Well, it might take a while,’ they might be trying to hint at needing some time away.” Instead of doing this, just let them go wherever they want to on their own. Remember that space is not a bad thing.
12. They are especially quiet.
Sometimes, when people are afraid to ask for space, they retreat inward. This means that rather than asking for some time apart, they will become quiet to recharge and refill their cup. If you notice them being especially quiet, ask what is wrong but do not force them to talk. A simple walk or drive alone can help them clear their mind and organize their thoughts.
Ultimately, it is important to understand that we all need space sometimes. Contrary to what many people believe, it can actually help make your relationship stronger.