Relationship Advice: How to Ask for Personal Space

Relationship Advice: How to Ask for Personal SpaceInundation. It’s a technical psychology term that you may not have heard of but have probably felt before.

In plain English, inundation is the feeling of being crowded or intruded upon by another person. Under inundation’s influence, it may seem as though another person is cutting into your space, life, or freedom. There are many different situations that may cause you to feel inundated, from people standing too close in line to family members who demand too much of your time.

While it’s easy to imagine how strangers in a crowded store, doting mothers, or irritating coworkers could make a person feel inundated, few of us ever imagine that our partners could make us feel this way.

A common misconception with romantic relationships is that married couples who are in love should become one and cease to be separate individuals. Many couples mistakenly believe that spending every single waking moment together is proof of the strength of their love and the health of their relationship. Often, couples have difficulty confessing to themselves or each other that they still have need for personal space.

But all human beings need a certain degree of space, privacy, and freedom—even the closest of romantic partners. In fact, personal space is vital to the success of a healthy relationship and active sex life. Without it, you may end up feeling resentful, irritated, and even angry at your partner.

Of course, a request for personal space can be an extremely sensitive subject. It can be a challenge to communicate your needs without hurting your partner’s self-esteem or causing a fight.

Below are some tips for getting the conversation on personal space going in a way that doesn’t end in conflict or hurt feelings.

Be specific. Telling your partner that you need space without providing an explanation may be interpreted by your partner as a sign of trouble. Explain to your partner exactly what you mean by “more space,” whether you want some time to spend with your friends or family, to pursue a hobby, or just to unwind after work.

Reassure your partner. Even the most confident partners can end up feeling confused, hurt, or jealous after you request a bit more breathing room. Reassure your partner of your intention to spend time with him or her as you request time apart, making it clear that your need for personal space is not a threat to your relationship.

Talk about your experiences. You and your partner should share your personal experiences with each other, using the tales of your solo escapades to inspire conversation and learn new things about one another. If you explore new activities, places, and experiences as individuals and as a couple, you can strengthen and revitalize your bond.

Bring in an expert. If you are having difficulty communicating your need for personal space to your partner, you may want to bring in an expert to offer relationship advice. A therapist can act as an impartial coach as you navigate this touchy subject, and provide you with effective tools and strategies for both honoring your time apart and treasuring your time together.

Walt Ciecko, Ph. D., BCB
605 Wynyard Rd
Wilmington, DE 19803