In our new series of articles, we’ll focus on what makes a healthy relationship. A healthy relationship is supposed to make you happy, give you confidence in yourself and help you understand more about yourself. One very important part of a healthy relationship is giving each other space. While it’s important to spend time together and get to know each other, you each need time apart. Your partner does not need to know where you are or what you are doing every moment of the day. You each need to respect the other’s privacy and needs. We’re thrilled that one of our special DASH volunteers has written about her healthy relationship (below)
The Importance of Space in a Relationship
A relationship should come second to YOU. You need to take care of yourself beyond the basic necessities. Remember what you are interested in. In my case, I am really interested in animals and learning about their habitats—a real outdoorsy type. My boyfriend supports me in this, even though he isn’t very enthusiastic about being outside all day. I have a group of friends at school who share the same interests in wildlife, so I spend time with them doing what I enjoy.
I really enjoy my boyfriend’s company and spending time with him, but I have other interests, hobbies, and friends that I’ve had since before I met him. It is important for me to step back and think: “Who was I before I met him?” and “Does our relationship allow me the freedom to pursue my own interests?”
For me, the answer is yes. My boyfriend and I have been dating since high school, and we both planned to go to college. He studies History, and I study Zoology. Our interests were very different and there wasn’t a common school that was right for the both of us. Instead of choosing sub-par schools, we both went where we could get the best education. This left us about 5 hours apart. We have been able to maintain our relationship across the distance, although it is difficult. It is because we both agreed obtaining a good education was something we both valued and deserved, we were willing to make the sacrifice of not being together for periods of time.
I think we work so well together because we genuinely want each other to be happy- not just in the relationship, but with ourselves. We hold each other’s best interests at heart, even if it means being apart. A great example of this was when I had the opportunity to study abroad for a semester. I told him about it and instead of being upset because I would be far away, he supported me and said “If this is something you really want to do, you need to do it.” While abroad, I learned a lot about myself and became a more independent person, which really helped me decide what I wanted out of a relationship.
Having space in a relationship does not mean you have to be in a different state (or country) than your boyfriend or girlfriend, it just means you need to spend some time apart from each other. Make plans with your other friends, take a class you are interested in, but don’t feel like you need to drag him/her along for security. You don’t have to have all the same interests—and if you did, you’d probably get bored with each other! Just remember that in a healthy relationship, you should never have to quit your hobby or suppress your interests just to be with someone.