Maintaining an individual, independent life outside of a relationship is important, even crucial. Despite knowing this, intuitively, many of us nonetheless find such natural comfort in the company of our other halves that we become inadvertently complacent.
Not necessarily a bad thing, two-person self-sufficiency. Still, beware taking each other for granted — and good luck to the guy whose lady comes to expect spending most nights and weekends together, because she can just as easily get hurt or angry when it’s time for Loverboy to do his own thing.
Understand: It’s not that she doesn’t want you to have fun and live your life. It’s that she’s accustomed to the two of you heading out as a duo and is likely already plotting tonight in her head. Here’s some insider girl-to-guy advice on how to get some ‘you’ time without making her feel pushed away or purposely excluded.
Never wait for her to broach this evening’s plans. Ladies prefer advance warning; we’re creatures of assumption. Trust me: She’ll feel thrown off if she’s had time to conjure tonight in her head, only for you to basically crush her expectations. If you already know you want to do your own thing, tell her ASAP. She’ll feel, rightly, like you’re both on the same page, and will likely go ahead and make her own plans — she’s a big girl, she can take it, just treat her with respect. That said, don’t forget that even though you’re in a serious relationship, she’ll probably feel a momentary twang of rejection. (Again: the sooner she’s in your loop, the better.)
The Sandwich Effect
If you want your own space, or if you feel like you could use a little break, taking off a night or two can be tough in the moment but beneficial in the big picture. It’s also mentally and spiritually healthy. (Hint: Tactfully remind her that absence makes the heart grow fonder — and say it right.) It’s important to be honest, but avoid being blunt, which comes across as far from empathetic or warming. Sandwich your news with something positive as a lead-in, and end it by advance-booking your next date. The idea of a future set plan will mitigate the small-R rejection, offering reassurance that, per the overused phrase, it’s not her, it’s you. It will also give her something to look forward to.
Meet Her Halfway
You might be surprised to learn that, around the same time you want some space to do your own thing, she feels the same way. Your night-off suggestion could easily be one where you can both meet halfway, and build a stronger relationship because of the honesty. Still, if you suggest doing your own thing and she seems hurt, almost as if it’s a personal slight (yes, we ladies have a way of sometimes making the mundane so dramatic), remind yourself that relationships involve both commitment and work. Instead of being adamant about your agenda, consider compromising. When you see those eyes that are saying everything she isn’t, or hear the palpable disappointment in her voice, provide some real proof that this isn’t a one-sided relationship. Truthfully ask yourself what’s more important: your short-term needs, or your long-term love life. She’ll appreciate the empathy, and might even be the one to suggest that you take another night off down the way.
Image courtesy of x-ray delta one.