by Anastasia Strgar
In the recent movie Letters to Juliet Amanda Seyfried says to her fiancé that the relationship isn’t working because when they went on their honeymoon they spent most of their time separately. “We should want to be together all the time.” And while the relationship ultimately failed for many a reason, this romantic comedy helps to instill the cultural ideology that loving someone should mean you want to be with them all the time.
While falling in love with someone and wanting to be with them 24/7 is fun for a while, it is not a place that can be sustained for long. And actually, the earlier you can give and take space in a relationship; the better off your relationship will be in the long-term. Movies and romance novels would make you believe that “space” is a bad thing. We’re taught that when one person says they want space that that person wants to break up. And while sometimes it is a bad thing, most of the time, taking space, whether it’s for a few minutes, a few hours or a few days may actually be the thing to save the relationship.
I’ve run into the “space” issue several times before in my past. I’ve had relationships where we took no space for ourselves, I’ve had relationships where space was taken as a cop-out way to end the relationship and in my current relationship; I think taking a few days, no matter how painful, may have actually saved it. During this time, we both got to redefine what we wanted, come back into ourselves and ultimately find our way back to each other without sacrificing who we were and what we wanted.
At the very beginning of a relationship, the bonding between the two people in such relationship must be cultivated. There must be some level of attachment in order for both to want to stay, but it’s easy at first. The idea of love being like a drug comes into play here. After a while, however, you have to choose and then keep choosing over and over again to be with the same person. Every relationship goes through ups and downs but it’s easier to weather those ups and downs if you’re taking the space to do your own thing and to cultivate yourself.
The healthiest relationships are ones in which both partners give and take the room to grow separately. Only then can they grow together. When you feel whole in yourself and when you love yourself, that is when you best give love to those around you; vice versa for your partner.
Have a conversation with your partner about what “space” means for you. Some people do better with more personal space, while others prefer less. Practice by taking time to do the things you love or trying out something you’ve always wanted to do. For me, I’ve discovered a newfound joy in meditation and yoga. For Arlo, it’s playing golf or working out.
By cultivating your own need for space and allowing your partner to do the same, it allows you both to become the people you are meant to be, the kind of people who really can cultivate and sustain a loving, long-term relationship because you’re also cultivating room for yourself to grow.
Anastasia Strgar, a recent graduate from the University of Oregon with a B.A in journalism, has been writing about love and relationships for several years. She has written short stories and romance novels, penned the love and sex column in the school newspaper and wrote several blogs. As the eldest of founder Wendy Strgar’s four children, she has been inspired by watching her parents’ marriage and strives to put those lessons to use in her own relationship. She believes that teaching her peers early on about how to maintain healthy relationships is essential to creating a future generation of loving partnerships. She currently works as the Director of Public Relations and Magazine Editor at Good Clean Love.