There Is an I in Team
No matter how much you love your partner, you need some time to yourself – and so do they. The ability to spend time apart, both alone and with friends, is one sign of a healthy relationship.
Of course, us time is also essential! You certainly shouldn’t neglect either your partner’s needs or the relationship, itself. But in order to give and share to the full extent of your ability, you need to maintain your own health and energy.
So read on, and learn why me time matters and how to ask for it in a way that respects your loved ones.
The Importance of Self-Care
We are finite. No matter how awesome, how giving, how energetic we are, we have limits. Respecting those limits isn’t selfish – it’s necessary and healthy. We all need to recharge on a regular basis.
Me time can take place with friends or alone. In fact, you should allot yourself some of each, time for the independent, social you and time for the private you. Some days may call for lunch with a close friend. Others may demand a nap.
Even extreme extroverts need some alone time. They may require less than introverts, but in the same way that “no man is an island,” no man (or woman) is a borderless blob of energy.
Take time to recenter yourself, no matter what that looks like. We all draw energy from similar sources but in different amounts and with different quirks.
Pay attention both to what you need on a regular basis and what you need right now. Perhaps, regular exercise keeps you fresh and upbeat. Integrate workouts into your schedule, but also be aware of more immediate, changing demands. Run-down? Maybe a long soak in the tub is a better solution than a five-mile jog.
Remember: provide yourself with the same love and care you give others, including your partner. Self-care is not selfish.
8 Me Time Ideas
You may already know, or you may want to explore what works for you. Great me-time activities include:
- Meditation or journaling
- Pampering with beauty or body-care
- Art, music, crafts
- Time with friends or family
- Bucket-list adventures
- Independent hobbies or interests
Note the array of possibilities in each of these items. For example, some people may benefit from playing a team sport. Others may want to do yoga, run, or dance.
As said, needs can change. Greatist has a chart of various human-battery drains and related suggestions for recharging them.
Remember: me time should be proactive as well reactive. Don’t leave it until the last second, the moment you come to the end of yourself.
How to Ask and Plan for Me Time
It can be hard to request time apart, but identify the source of your anxiety. If you feel selfish, shift your internal vocabulary to think in terms of self-care rather than self-indulgence.
If you worry about your partner’s feelings or reaction, practice explaining your needs beforehand. As in other matters, clear communication is integral to a successful relationship.
Some points to establish:
- Physical distance doesn’t mean emotional distance.
- Time apart gives you the chance to rebalance and recalibrate yourself, giving you more energy to devote to the relationship.
- Balance is important. Personal identity and growth matters even within the context of couple identity and mutual growth.
- It’s no more “about them” than your need for sleep is “about them.”
Remember: when done right, me time benefits relationships. It shouldn’t threaten them.
Tips to Help You Communicate Your Me-Time Needs
If you’re still nervous about the conversation, try these approaches:
Match me time with us time.
Quality couple time is invaluable. Make it clear to your partner that you care about the needs of the relationship as well as your personal needs.
At the same time that you approach the idea of some time apart, plan for time together. You might suggest a future date. Or perhaps there’s an activity or project that you’ve been discussing as a joint venture. Figure out how to get it off the ground.
When the concept is left abstract, the idea of me time can be more threatening than it should be. While you are still establishing the need for time apart, link the broader concept to a specific practice.
- I need time to myself to jog a few times a week – most often on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Running alone helps me to clear my head and center myself.
- I need to spend more time drawing/writing/making jewelry. At least a couple times a week, I’m going to head out/shut myself in the office and work on it. I really miss expressing myself in this manner.
- In the mornings, I need to take a half hour for yoga/journaling/meditation. This practice grounds me and gets me ready for the day. I know it may not always be possible, but when it is, I’d really appreciate it if you could handle any interruptions that come up so that I can focus internally.
- I haven’t seen Jenny in a long time. I really need to reconnect with her, so the two of us are going to spend some quality time together on Saturday.
Make it a feature of your calendar, something that needs to be respected in the same way that your partner respects your other commitments. Doing so will ensure that me time doesn’t get lost in the chaos of the week.
You Time Matters, Too!
Encourage them to take time for themselves. Pay attention to the relationships and practices that support them outside your relationship. Suggest they get together with a certain friend…or head to a yoga class…or whatever it is they might miss.
Remember: be considerate and clear. If you still struggle to establish the mutual need for time apart, there may be other problems with your communication or dynamic that need attention.
Let us know: how do you make time for yourself in your relationship?
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