When asking for space is asking for trouble

Couple in conflict

(image credit)

“I need space.” Those three little words that usually signify an imminent breakup. But sometimes it’s just one partner needing more alone time than the other.

A Wall Street Journal article about recent research into attachment styles and communication says that people who are more aloof tend to seek out those who are more warm and inviting – leading to a mismatch between how much time each partner wants to spend with the other. One would think we could use personality tests or games when we’re looking for dates, to find people who are more compatible.

Here are some tips for when one partner wants more “me time” than the other:

  • Be specific. Say, ‘I need the afternoon to myself.’ Simply saying ‘I need space’ sends confusing signals.
  • Explain why more space makes you happy, so your partner knows it’s not about him or her.
  • Enjoy the space you take. Guilt defeats the purpose, says Barbara F. Okun, counseling psychology professor at Northeastern University.
  • No secrets. Tell your spouse what you did and with whom when you were away.
  • Don’t get carried away. Too much space weakens your connection.
  • Don’t forget to schedule couple time and family time, too.
 Naturally, the comments turned into a fetid sexist swamp, but do you think men need more time alone than women?
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