space in a relationship

Space is an important component of any relationship, especially a romantic one. While we’re wired for connection, Anita Chlipala, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple's Guide to Lasting Love, explains that It’s a very natural thing to crave space in a relationship. “Self-time is important for your own growth, self-care and emotional management, and it also keeps things interesting in the relationship because you have exciting stories to share with your partner,” she says. “With emotional management, it is so important to have space so as not to make conflict worse in a relationship.”

But is there such a thing as too much space in a relationship? Relationship experts say this is a slippery slope. While space is an important quality for any relationship to have, whether it’s a brand-new courtship or a decades-long marriage, it is possible to overdo it and give your partner too much. “When a couple is disconnected, that is a red flag,” says Jenn Mann, a licensed Marriage, Family and Child Therapist (L.M.F.T) and author of The Relationship Fix. “Of the many things that can come from giving your partner too much space include a lack of conversation, connection, alone time, face-to-face time and intimacy.”

How do you know if you’re guilty of giving your partner too much space in your relationship? Here, experts outline four key signs that it might be time to connect more and be apart less.

You haven’t spent quality time together in over a month.

These days couples are busier than ever, both together and apart. But if you and your partner are living parallel lives and it’s not only because of work and other important commitments that contribute to your livelihood, it’s time to take a look at your dynamic, says Paulette Sherman, Psy.D., psychologist, director of My Dating & Relationship School and author of Dating from the Inside Out. “If you don’t have things in common or enjoy doing things together, there may be larger issues in your relationship,” she adds.

You don’t know what’s going on in your partner’s daily life.

Even if you don’t see each other often, or are even living long-distance from each other, you should be speaking often, at least once a day. “It’s important to know each other’s love map or you can’t support one another,” warns Dr. Sherman. “It’s hard to even be good friends if you do not stay up to date on their recent news.”

You can’t remember the last time you had sex.

As any relationship expert will tell you, sex is like the glue that holds a relationship together. Physical intimacy is very important. “If you are taking a lot of personal space and are no longer physically affectionate in your romantic relationship, it makes intimacy a challenge,” warns Dr. Sherman. “Assuming you are sleeping together in the sane bed, there may be other reasons you aren’t having sex.”

You don’t show up for one another.

Whatever milestones or happy occasion you have going on in your life and your partner has going on in theirs should be celebrated. If you continuously fail to be there for your partner, supporting them in their milestones and achievements, it’s a definite sign that there’s too much space in your relationship, explains Dr. Mann. “This shows a strong disconnect that is harmful,” she adds.

What should you do?

Both Dr. Mann and Dr. Sherman agree that if you don’t spend time with your partner, do things fun things together, and talk on a daily basis, you can quickly grow apart and lose sight of your partner’s needs and what is important in their life. If your relationship is one worth saving, it’s best to make an effort to rekindle the romance. Start by remembering the reason the two of you got together in the first place and have a heart-to-heart with your partner to gain a better understanding of what might be going on with one or both of you. Communication is the key to a happy relationship. Check out these tips on how to communicate openly and effectively with your partner.