Quarantining with your partner can be delightful. If you're both non-essential workers, your aligned schedules can mean more cuddling, bonding, and sex. But this period of time might not be all adult slumber parties and lazy mornings in bed. It's very possible that all this closeness might have you at your wit's end, and you need to find a way to ask your partner for space while quarantining to, you know, avoid dissolving each other's last nerves.
Not only are you and your partner all up in each other's space 24/7, but fear and uncertainty have overtaken basically everyone's emotions in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Understandably, you're probably extra irritated that your partner doesn't use headphones on their Zoom calls or that they've been leaving dirty laundry on the floor. According to sex and relationship therapist Shamyra Howard, asking for space can dredge up feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment, and uncertainty for you both. But speaking up when you need time apart is necessary, and even though it might feel uncomfortable at first, you'll be glad you did it.
It's important to remember that not everyone needs space. You might find it crucial, while your partner might crave even more togetherness. "Sometimes people have a history of 'space' being a trigger, a tool of emotional manipulation, or a reminder of neglect — hence why many of us might find ourselves clinging on to our loved ones," Dr. Shena Young, a psychologist who focuses on trauma, tells Elite Daily.
If your partner reacts adversely to you asking for space, emphasize that you just need some time to recharge, that you're not angry with them, and that you don't love them any less. "In voicing this, partners have an opportunity to clarify intentions and offer reassurance," Young explains.
"Creating and supporting space in a relationship is always beneficial, but especially at a time like now, when many people feel confined to their homes," Howard tells Elite Daily. "Space is helpful for recharging, taking much needed breaks, and maintaining a sense of individuality in the relationship."
She recommends couples discuss and agree on what taking space looks like for them. "This might be a good time to do daily check-ins with each other," she advises. "Saying something like, 'Hey babe, I'm going to take my walk right now. I'll be back in 20 minutes.'" Some ideas she proposes for alone time include watching TV, meditating, reading, or just resting separately. You can also pop your head outside for some air, take a car or bike ride, masturbate, or FaceTime a friend, she offers.
Young suggests telling your partner you'd like to "spend some quality time" with yourself for a couple hours. "Follow that up with a short conversation regarding the logistics to wrap it up, like what part of the residence you might be using or, if going out for a walk, an anticipated return time."
Both experts suggest planning intentional time together, the same way you'd plan time apart. "Keep in mind that as much as space is needed, the relationship still has needs — even if it's an agreement to hug at the beginning and ending of each day," Howard says. Young recommends planning quarantine date nights.
As the novelty of being at home with your partner wears off, your needs might change too. And even though addressing them may be stressful in the short term, it can only help your and your partner long-term.
Dr. Shena Young, psychologist, owner of Embodied Truth Healing & Psychological Services and creator of Kindred Medicine, an online directory for healers of color