How to Be Alone When You're in a Relationship

09/23/2015 04:05 pm ET Updated Sep 23, 2016

There are too many dangerous misconceptions that shape our view of the so-called perfect relationship. Usually, those misconceptions deal with the stripping of one's individuality in the name of long-lasting coupledom and undeniable romance.

You don't do what you want to do, you do what we want to do.

You don't have your own opinion, the two of you have an opinion.

You don't have your own space, the two of you share a space.

And while the comfort of all-encompassing closeness can be the magic fairy tale dreams are made of, it is also unreasonable, unsustainable, and downright dangerous.

Because the truth is, we all need time alone.

We need to feel the space between adorned walls and lazy chairs, where our bodies can stretch and expand and unapologetically take up free space.

We need the opportunity to sit in solitude, untouched and unattached, so the constantly swirling complexities of any given day can be digested.

We need to feel nothing but the air we're breathing, our skin burdened only by the weightlessness of silence.

And we especially need to be alone when we find ourselves in a relationship.

It doesn't mean you don't care about your partner. It doesn't mean you can't stand to be around them or have some pre-determined limit of tolerance for them. It just means that you value your individual self as much as you value your mutual relationship.

So, if you're like me and you adore your alone time as much as you adore waking up next to you partner ever morning, here are a few ways you can be alone when you're in a healthy, happy and otherwise fulfilling relationship.

Prioritize Yourself Above Everyone Else

Yes, being in a relationship means that you are willing to put someone else's needs before your own. But not always. Call it selfish or narcissistic, but you are useless to another person if you are not okay yourself. Have the courage and the self-love to tell someone what you need, even if that person may not completely understand the reasons why. You're worthy of silence and solitude, even in the midst of a passionate connection. You're worthy of selfishness and narcissism.

Run Away

While I don't suggest packing your belongings into a sack, tying said sack to a stick and hitting the open road forever, I do advise -- from time to time -- that you should get out of your natural, normal surroundings. Take the keys and go for a drive with no particular destination in mind. Block off an afternoon and go explore a part of your city you have never been or seen or smelled. And, of course, do it all while leaving your partner at home. It's important that you give yourself a chance to discover the newly developed parts of you, that push you perpetually forward.

Read

Block off time during the week, if not during the day, and get lost in the pages of someone else's beautifully unique yet surprisingly universal story. Sit in the corner with an oversized sweater and throw blanket, and turn pages lazily. Find a quiet place in your home or apartment and fill your head with the loud, rambunctious prose of a complete stranger. Reading is a great way to feel like you're miles away from someone, even if they're in the next room.

Continuously Communicate

In order to really enjoy the time you have to yourself, you need to make sure that the communication highway that connects you and your partner is clear, smooth and constantly tended to. There isn't a person on the planet that, if being honest, cannot admit that they harbor some sort of insecurity, and relationships have this spectacularly impressive way of fueling them. So talk to your partner and let them talk to you. Listen as often as you open your mouth. If you're vigilant, the moments you do spend alone will not be plagued by worry or doubt or guilt.

Be Honest

Perhaps the most important step in seeking solitude, is honesty. Be true to yourself and your needs, but also look inward and evaluate what it is you are actually requiring. Are you seeking space because of you, or because of your relationship? Are you as happy as you are alone as when you're with your partner, or are you finding yourself seeking more and more time apart because it ends up fulfilling you in ways your partnership should?

Make Your Own Rules

Don't deny yourself what you need because you're afraid of how you or your relationship will be perceived. It isn't "sexy" or "romantic" to say that you like your time alone, away from your partner, so too many couples chain themselves to one another at all times so they can present a united, strong and healthy front.

Just don't.

Be yourself, as an individual and as a functioning member of a meaningful relationship. Don't pander to the dangerous misconceptions that shape our view of the so-called perfect relationship.

After all, we all need time alone.