Having a significant other—a life partner—makes mundane domestic tasks enjoyable and romantic. You crave intimacy, presence, and attention. But intimacy does not only equate to closeness and familiarity, it also means bearing yourself to your partner. The real you, no holds barred. And in order to bear yourself completely, you also need some time alone to know yourself while staying in a healthy relationship.
What Makes a Relationship Healthy?
When talking about healthy relationships, what comes to mind? Is it constant and open communication? Is it openness to the other’s experiences and undying understanding? Or does it simply boil down to commitment? Indeed, one factor does not embody the meaning of a healthy relationship. Multiple factors make a relationship work and even more to make it healthy and thriving.
American psychologist Robert Sternberg’s theory of love postulates that love has three fundamental elements which are passion, intimacy, and commitment. A combination of two or three elements results in different types of relationships. Interestingly, companionate and romantic love both needs the element of intimacy.
When we talk about intimacy, we talk about both physical and emotional, the closeness, and the familiarity. However, there are also times when intimacy becomes a measure of how much we know about the other person. But, it does not end there. In order to know who you really are, you need some time alone and to know the real you. In that manner, you get to know yourself more and you tend to be more truthful to your partner about who you are—flaws and all.
Why Our Alone Time Matters
Most of the time, we often overlook this one factor that is as important as the others—our alone time. When your partner demands enough alone time to unwind and to look after themselves during your relationship, do not fret. Time alone is as important as spending time together. Take this as a measure that your partner wants to make your relationship work for the long haul. Other than alone time, there are several other factors that compose a healthy relationship: communication, humor, respect, and accountability are some of the factors in the list.
Do keep in mind that alone time is not only necessary for romantic relationships, it’s also needed for platonic and familial relationships. Your closest friends may want to spend time alone or to enjoy the company of other people. Let them be. Your friendship is not a cage. Reach out to other people too. After all, the bond of true friendship goes beyond constant hangouts and updates.
But when it comes to familial relationships, it takes on a whole different story. Parents find this as something that they’d like to avoid for a tad longer. When their children are set to fly out from their nests, some parents often look for reasons to let them stay a while longer. But the inevitable comes, you will have to let them go. Your children will want to grow at their own pace and at their own direction. Give them their alone time. Let them know who they really are aside from being your child. Let them identify themselves outside your family. Who knows? It might bring you closer in the long run.
How Much Alone Time is Healthy?
When your partner needs alone time, you automatically ask for how long. Of course, we ask this question as we don’t want to give too little or too much lest we end up compromising the entire relationship.
In romantic relationships, it is said that the time you spend together with your partner should be divided into 70/30. This means that, ideally, you should spend 70% of your time together and thirty percent of your time apart. If we span it in a week, you should spend four to five days together and two to three days apart. During the time apart, you do you. You can continue your hobbies and enjoy your interests with other people. You can do anything that you want to do but keep in mind that you are still in a relationship, any grave action that will cost your relationship will not be excused.
“But what if our relationship falls apart during our spending time alone?”
The fear of a failing relationship will always be present, even when you’re joined at the hip or not. However, the fear intensifies when you spend more time apart, right? If this fear creeps at the most unexpected moments, always go back to the reason why you decided to spend some time alone. At the end of the day, what you are doing is for the sake of the relationship.
Don’t Fear Time Spent Apart
“What if our situation does not allow us to spend thirty percent of our time apart?”
Don’t worry about it! Thirty percent apart is only the ideal number. You can always adjust it to your situation. Say, for example, you’re a young couple who recently had a baby. It’s quite impossible to stay away for hours because you need to tend to the newborn’s needs. What you can do instead is to have quiet moments around the house. Quiet moments to recollect and calm yourselves. The responsibilities in caring for a newborn can be overwhelming so a pause in between a few hours work wonders.
Having too much or too little time alone compromises a lot of things. Having too little compromises your personal wellbeing. Being always present for another person can be quite draining however enjoyable one’s company may be. On the other hand, having too much can compromise the stability of the relationship. At this point, you begin to question your relationship and your position in your partner’s life. Maybe it would even reach a point where you question if your presence is still needed in the first place. These are all pretty disheartening questions, so make sure that you don’t reach this point in your relationship.
Remember the other factors that make a healthy relationship work? Open communication. Talk it out.
Alone Time in Families? Is that even Possible?
Straying from romantic relationships, let’s talk about alone times in familial relationships. This might be a tough pill to swallow but parents need some alone time to be better parents and kids also need some alone time to become better children. But for a parent who manages a full household, how does one get some alone time really?
The littlest moments count. When you wake up in the morning, take a few moments to concentrate on your breathing and soak in the warm sunlight. When you hum to yourself as you make your morning coffee, give your body a shake or two to release some tension. And when you head to bed at night, make sure to fluff your pillows for a few seconds. These are the little comforts that remind us that we are our own person too. Not just a partner, not just a parent.
Your kids also need some alone time as much as you do. It’s totally understandable that you want to be part of your child’s life as much as you can but they also want and need their space to grow. Take the time to prepare yourself that your children will want to discover who they are on their own terms. And the best course of action that you can take is to guide them. Be present when they need a supporter, a constant reminder that they will achieve great things in life. Let them discover their own type of music, their fashion preferences, their friend groups. Let them grow with their skills in art, sports, or academics. Give them the time and space to spread their own wings but do not forget to check in with them.
Your Family Needs You, But First, Self-Care
Even if you are always with your family and they take up almost all of your waking hours, having some time alone for yourself is important. Even if it can’t reach the ideal thirty percent, (because, be honest, can we really stay away for that long?) we still need time to know more about ourselves as we continue to grow older. Another benefit of practicing having alone times in families is that we learn to become sensitive to one another. We avoid pushing our own wants to our spouse or children. We let them enjoy want they want, and in turn, they let us enjoy ours.
Several elements make up a healthy relationship, whether platonic, romantic, or familial. Communication, accountability, even humor in relationships is a needed element. What people often overlook is the importance of self-intimacy or alone time. Alone time is necessary for building relationships up and not to tear them down. It helps in bridging gaps between couples because they bear more of their true selves to each other. It helps parents understand and respect their children’s boundaries. On the other hand, it allows children to realize earlier that their parents have lives outside of being parents.
Make sure to spend some time for your self. Learn and relearn yourself.