“I need space.”
We’ve all heard that line at some point in our intimate relationships. Although it’s distressing to hear it, the truth is that our partner really needed their space.
I’m convinced that space is the most precious gift we can give to our beloved. As Valentine’s Day approaches, we might rush to the stores to buy presents. Gifts are undoubtedly a beautiful gesture. However, the most valuable gifts can’t be bought—they come from within us.
Romantic relationships require hard work. But our ability to create space in them sets the tone for how successful they will be.
Giving space might be a frightening concept to adopt. But it’s only another word for “pause,” really. Oftentimes, when I’m reading a good book, and I come across an inspirational passage, I pause for a few moments so I can reflect on the meaning. At times, the passage is so striking that I put down the book for days or even weeks. Once I absorb the message and feel ready to continue, I’ll pick up the book again.
This happens to everyone—pausing is natural when we read a book or watch a movie. So, why is it challenging to incorporate space into our intimate relationships?
It’s because if we haven’t yet learned how to be alone with ourselves, we will never know how to be alone with someone else. So long as we pursue relationships to fill a void or to run away from our loneliness, giving space to others will always be a struggle.
To start off, we must learn how to be okay with being alone. This way, we will be with our partners because we choose them—not because we need them. We can’t fake giving space—sooner or later, our neediness for our partner will be revealed.
Giving space is a win-win situation in relationships. It either repairs them and keeps them on the right track, or it helps with making the right choice if our relationship is on the edge. When we pause, we gain the time to reflect and reconnect with who we are—and so does our partner. Consequently, space allows greater knowledge and objective perspectives. And, on the other hand, if the relationship ends, neither partner loses. In a relationship that comprises of space, partners are less likely to feel lonely after the breakup.
When giving space, it is imperative to remember the quote in the film “Little Buddha” that says: “If you tighten the string too tight, it will snap—but if it is too loose it will not play.”
To put it differently, give space with balance and awareness. Don’t become too detached and drift apart; rather, know how to keep the rhythm playing without being involved in it. Kahlil Gibran says, “Let there be spaces in your togetherness.” Let’s add to that: too much togetherness can ruin a relationship, and so can too much space.
Most importantly, couples should give the same amount of space to each other, or else the relationship might become dysfunctional. One could become too clingy, whereas the other too distant. Therefore, creating space must be discussed and checked at all times between partners.
Giving space might be arduous at the start of a relationship, since couples feel like constantly being together. When our most intense emotions stabilize, creating space then becomes a necessity.
It must be given on a weekly—if not on a daily—basis in a relationship. Partners should spend time alone and allow each other to experience things separately. Though it’s true that “two become one,” it’s also imperative to remain an individual inside a two-person relationship. Too much togetherness damages one’s individuality. So, in order to keep individually growing, couples must learn to spend a few hours alone every day without any contact with their partner.
Space is especially crucial during conflicts or fights since it allows partners to make sound choices, reflect, and recover. To pause means to allow things to calm down.
So, how do you know you’re doing well? Ask yourself, “What have I done today to nurture my relationship with myself?” Also, we should observe our partner’s emotions—and our own. Do we feel one of us is getting too attached to the other’s presence? Do we feel like something’s wrong? Always keep your mind and heart open to discover the answer.
“Let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.” ~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
From Addictive to Enlightened Love: 9 Ways to make Relationships our most Powerful Spiritual Practice.
A Buddhist Perspective on Creating Mindful & Successful Relationships.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Image: Unsplash/Tanja Heffner
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Callie Rushton
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