The best thing about being in a casual relationship is having plenty of time to just do you with no pressure. You can take your relationship at a leisurely pace, with all the personal time you need to recharge. But even when you and the person you're dating are seemingly on the same page, you might still find they want more from you than you’re comfortable giving; more time, more attention, or more commitment. In that case, knowing how to create some boundaries by telling your casual partner you need space is not only healthy for you, but for the relationship as well. Nothing puts a damper on a casual situation like feeling smothered.
If that’s resonating for you right now, it may be time to have a talk with your casual partner so you can let them know how you're feeling, and together, reassess the situation. These conversations can be tricky and stressful, which makes it tempting to avoid them. However, by ignoring the problem and not honoring your needs, you’re putting your happiness on the line. You deserve better. With that in mind, here’s how the experts suggest letting them know you need more space.
Be Honest With Yourself About What You Need.
First thing's first. Connell Barrett, Dating Transformation founder and dating coach with The League, suggests getting honest about what you’re feeling and why. “If you need space, make sure you’re clear about why you need space. Do you need space from your partner, which can often be the first step toward a breakup? What’s more often the case is that you need space for yourself, as a way to recharge. These secondary reasons can be part of a healthy relationship because, if you get the space you need, that can be a win-win for you and your partner,” Barrett tells Elite Daily.
Eric Resnick, an online dating coach, adds it's OK to own how you’re feeling. The alternative may result in an unnecessary breakup, or lead the person you’re dating on. “If you don't make sure that you have the space you need, you’ll probably get sick of them, too. Worse, it could give your partner the impression that you’re looking for something a lot more serious than you are,” Resnick tells Elite Daily.
How To Communicate Your Needs To Your Casual Partner.
Once you know what you do and don’t want, it's time to talk to your partner about your feelings. “No one is a mind reader. I’ve seen more relationships break down because one person expects the other to know what they’re thinking,” says Resnick. “For all you know, they feel the same way and the only thing stopping you from fixing the problem is a conversation.”
Barrett says to approach the subject gently, but honestly. “Make it about you, not them,” he says. “If you’re looking to recharge so that you can be an even better, more present partner, tell them that. It will make them feel better because asking for ‘space’ can create anxiety in your partner, and make them feel rejected.” This approach should help your partner understand where you’re coming from. In the case that your partner feels hurt by your boundary-setting, Barrett says it's important to hear them out while maintaining your needs front and center. “If someone gets upset because you’ve asked for time apart, tell them that you appreciate how they feel, so they feel heard. Also, let them know that it’s in their interest for you to have some space. If they see you having space as something that can improve the relationship — because you’re happier and better company when you’re together — that can alleviate some of their bad feelings,” he suggests.
Having these conversations can be challenging, whether it's with a casual partner or a fully committed one. But by speaking up about what you need, you're not only taking care of your emotional well-being, but that of the relationship and your partner as well. In this case, it’s the kindest course of action.
Connell Barrett, Dating Transformation founder and dating coach with The League
Eric Resnick, an online dating coach