When you first get into a new relationship, it can be totally natural to feel like you want to spend a lot of time together. You can feel like you’re in your own little bubble and that it’s a really amazing and intoxicating place to be. But at some point, life sets back in. You get back to your own routines, your own rhythms — and that can mean spending a lot more time apart. Although everyone needs alone time, if your partner needs more alone time than you do it might feel like something’s wrong.
Don’t panic — instead, try to remember that alone time is totally natural. “There is nothing inherently wrong with alone time,” Joanna Townsend, a life coach and a Washington D.C.-based psychotherapist for Blush Online Life Coaching, tells Bustle. “Alone time is healthy, particularly in relationships. It’s imperative for recharging, re-centering, connecting with oneself, and being able to show up to the relationship fully.” It can be a really useful tool in a relationship. But of course, too much alone time can be a sign that you’re drifting apart or that your partner isn’t happy. So how can you tell if your partner’s alone time is natural or whether it’s a threat to your relationship? Here’s how you know it’s OK, according to experts.
1. They Balance Alone Time With Couple Time
Even though everyone’s needs for alone time are different, there should be a sense of balance between alone time and couple time. If your partner always chooses alone time, that can be a worrying sign. “If they chose to be alone mostly when given a choice, then there is a threat present for the relationship,” Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. But if you feel like there’s a balance, there’s a good chance their alone time is healthy.
2. You Talk Openly About Their Need For Alone Time
There shouldn’t be any mystery or enigma about your partner’s alone time. “It can become a threat to a relationship or a reflection of deeper issues when alone time is not communicated about, when it is used aggressively or as a form of expression, or when it is taken in spite of the other — to get away, ghost, or exclude,” Townsend says. But if you’re both open about your respective needs for alone time and you both feel comfortable with it, that’s a good sign.
3. You’re Still A Priority
As long as your partner’s alone time doesn’t make you feel neglected, then you probably don’t need to overthink it. “Is your partner looking to go for a run or meet up with friends for a beer during a weekend that they primarily spend with you?” relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. “That’s pretty normal. However, if they are relegating you to just an hour for coffee or a late night hook up every weekend, then it’s probably a sign that they’re not that interested or that you are not a very significant part of their life.” If you feel marginalized or ignored, that’s an issue — but if you sense that you’re still a priority them, then you probably have the right balance.
4. Things Feel The Same When They Get Home
If alone time is a problem in your relationship, things might feel awkward or stilted when your partner comes home — but if it’s healthy alone time, things should just feel normal. “Check in with yourself when your partner comes back from alone time and see if things feel normal or off,” family and marriage therapist Rachel Wrighttells Bustle. “Trust that intuition.”
5. They’re Doing Something That’s Important To Them
A good sign that your partner’s need for alone time is healthy is if it seems like it’s doing them some good. “Check and see if your partner is more filled up than drained when they get home,” Wright says. “Are they doing something that truly lights them up and fills up their soul?” If their alone time is nourishing and fulfilling, without taking away from your relationship, it’s probably a good thing.
6. You Still Get Quality Time
It’s important to remember that time with your partner can be more about quality than quantity. “Very often couples believe they need to spend as many hours together as possible to strengthen the relationship,” Klapow says. “The reality is that depending on each person, spending time alone may be an important part of the overall wellbeing of each individual and as well the overall quality of the relationship.” If you feel like you’re getting that quality time together, that’s what’s important — no matter what the number of hours is.
7. They’re Equally Happy Alone Or Together
Even if your partner loves alone time, it’s important they they feel happy and content whether they’re alone or not. “If your partner is only or primary happy when they are alone, if they are only or primarily calm and centered when they are alone, if they chose to be alone mostly when given a choice, then there is a threat present for the relationship,” Klapow says.
If, however, your partner likes alone time and quality time equally, then that’s a great sign. “Your partner should be able to derive joy and contentment both from being with you and being alone,” Klapow says. “Like two flavors of ice cream — both delicious — just different and with different preferences at different times.”
Needing alone time is totally natural, but if you’re someone who doesn’t require a lot of it, it can take a while to adjust to your partner’s need to be alone. As long as your relationship still feels happy, fulfilled, and solid, then their alone time probably doesn’t pose a threat — in fact, it’s really healthy.
Originally posted on Bustle