Alone time is NOT a relationship need

Alone Time is NOT a Relationship Need

I’ve had different types of relationships in my life – some I lived with my partner and other’s where we lived separately.

In the past, I have told my partner at the start of the relationship that I needed, at times, alone time. I was convinced that was great at communicating my needs and ensuring what was important for me was in place within the dynamic.

When we lived separately, it was easy to give each other alone time: we simply didn’t get together on some days. But when we moved in together, it was harder to meet that need.

I started thinking about exactly what I needed alone time for. It wasn’t just to be alone. In fact, sometimes I would ask to be alone, my partner would go out, and an hour later I would find myself missing her.

What I’ve gradually come to realize is that the idea of alone time is a temporary crutch. It creates a container of free time in which other, more specific needs can be met. These could be needs that we’re unaware of, that we don’t know how to articulate, or that we don’t feel safe to express. It’s an effective tool to get those deeper needs met, but it’s not the most efficient way.

On reflection of all this,  I’ve come to learn that alone time could mean for people:

  • I want a time where I’m not responsible for anyone else.
  • I need to spend some time without distractions researching a topic/idea for a project.
  • I need to masturbate.
  • I need to watch porn.
  • I need to have a drink and watch reality TV programs.
  • Etc etc. You get the picture.

Common to several of these is a related need: “and I need to not feel ashamed or judged while I do it.” Alone time is often hard to get in a relationship, especially when we cohabit, or if your partner also needs closeness or support at the same time that you need alone time. It can result in our needs appearing to be in conflict.

But by going deeper to discover what your underlying needs are, and being free to express them, it actually becomes easier to meet those needs. I don’t need to be alone, I just need to not feel judged while I want to spend time writing articles like the one you are reading now. And I can do that with my partner right there beside me. Fostering a conscious connection where each other’s actual needs are respected without judgment is crucial.

Are you asking for alone time, or have you gotten to the point of asking for your underlying needs?