How to Define Your Personal Space In a Relationship

They say that, in a couple, both merge. However, it's just as important to have an enriching shared space as an individual one.
How to Define Your Personal Space In a Relationship

Last update: 05 December, 2021

Relationships can be full of happy, shared moments that give rise to memories and build bonds. However, if this collection of moments is to keep increasing, it’s essential for the couple to have certain conversations, some of which may be uncomfortable. One of them has to do with defining personal space in the relationship.

As a matter of fact, this point is often overlooked, giving rise to various problems. This isn’t something that happens all of a sudden. In reality, it’s a dynamic that needs to be developed in a relationship. In this article, we give you some tips for working on it.

Personal spaces in a relationship

When two people come together in a relationship, there are usually certain expectations about what the dynamics between them will be like.

At first, these aren’t usually so obvious, but once the relationship progresses, some friction may appear. One of the most common problems is the lack of definition of personal space in the relationship. As a matter of fact, some couples spend so much time together, they forget to continue with the activities that they enjoy individually.

On the other hand, there are couples who focus so much on their individual concerns that they forget about time as a couple. As with many other things in life, extremes can be negative.

A partner who doesn’t allow themselves space to enjoy themselves separately can end up feeling overwhelmed by their partner. Conversely, those who don’t share their time together enough often have weak emotional ties. For this reason, space in a couple’s relationship should always be defined.

Woman reading

How to define your personal space in a relationship

For some people, the thought of being without their partner can reveal irrational insecurities and fears. For example, there are those who might think that leaving their partner will cause them to lose interest. On the other hand, there are those who find it difficult to give up their own fun and tend to forget about their partner.

Within a healthy relationship, there’s harmony between both partners. They enjoy times as a couple but are also both aware of the importance of being alone. Thus, they’re able to do individual activities without it being a problem for the relationship.

However, how should space in a couple be defined? In fact, there’s no simple solution. That’s because every relationship is unique, therefore, each one must find their own way to a harmonious balance. Nevertheless, there are some tips that can help.

1. Have a conversation with your partner about the topic

If you feel that there’s a problem with space in your relationship, the first step is identifying the problem. Ideally, you should have a conversation with your partner in a suitable place and time. You should avoid addressing the subject when you’re angry or at a time when you both can’t give it your full attention. It doesn’t work as a conversation in the background.

Make sure to express your feelings in a calm, respectful, and honest way. Then, listen to your partner. Once you reach an agreement, it’ll be easier to proceed. In fact, you’ll be able to work together to improve your relationship.

2. Recognize your needs and those of your partner

It’s important to remember that, as a couple, you’re two different people. Consequently, you don’t always think alike. Therefore, your partner’s space and time needs may not be the same as yours. For example, they might say that they want a little more time alone than you do. This doesn’t mean they don’t love you, it just means they have different needs.

In the same way, you should establish what your expectations are regarding time alone and as a couple. Only then will you be able to establish agreements on the time you dedicate to the relationship and the time you give to yourself.

3. Find activities that you both enjoy

Another key aspect is mutual fun. Shared moments you enjoy together. Look for activities that meet this requirement.

Couple doing sports

4. Avoid monopolizing their space

On the other hand, the time you decide to spend alone should also be respected by both of you. In other words, you shouldn’t impose limitations on your partner on what to do with their time. For example, if your partner likes rock music concerts and you don’t, you shouldn’t stop them from going to them, just because they aren’t to your taste.

As long as the activities you do on your own don’t break the agreement between you, there should be no conflict.

The importance of personal space in a relationship

The reason why you should be concerned about defining space in your relationship is respect. Giving your partner time to be themselves is one way you can show your love and respect. Indeed, respect is an essential element in any relationship.

Hendrick and Hendrick (2006) published a study in which they measured respect in close relationships. They pointed out that respect is important for optimal personal development. In addition, it promotes relational growth. It’s also associated with other positive variables such as marital satisfaction and happiness.

Finally, if you have problems in your relationship about how to define your personal space, it’s okay to ask for help. In fact, establishing these types of dynamics takes time and effort, and sometimes the situation can exceed your resources as a couple. In this kind of situation, a psychologist or psychotherapist has the necessary tools to guide you.

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  • Hendrick, S. S., & Hendrick, C. (2006). Measuring respect in close relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 23(6), 881-899.