Self-Care in Relationships: Creating ‘Me’ Time Within a ‘We’

Man and dog hike on grassy hill under cloudy skyIn today’s busy society, where everyone is scrambling to find time for (fill-in-the-blank activity/ person), it can be challenging to carve out time that’s entirely for you. However, the value of having time for yourself cannot be measured. Within a romantic relationship, ensuring each person still has a sense of “me” can lead to stronger and more fulfilling experiences of “we.”

Why ‘Me’ Time Is Important

Think back to when you entered your relationship. Remember that you? Chances are the friends you had and the experiences you engaged in were among the factors that drew your partner in, at least a little.

Having individual experiences can be as valuable to the relationship as shared experiences. Leaving room to allow yourself to go out and experience life without always having your partner at your side leaves you with an opportunity to share your new experiences, ideas, and thoughts when you and your partner reengage.

Challenges to ‘Me’ Time

Holding on to and expressing your individuality can be particularly challenging in codependent relationships where one partner feels like they have limited autonomy and control or that they have a controlling/demanding partner. If you find you encounter guilty feelings/thoughts or your partner becomes angry or resentful when you shift into “me” time, it might be wise to examine your relationship more closely. Maintaining a sense of self and engaging in activities independent of the partnership can be difficult even in healthy relationships, but having intense negative reactions to exploring activities outside of the relationship may be a sign it is moving into an unhealthy space.

‘Me’ Still Respects the ‘We’

Making space for your individuality within your relationship does not mean you are exiting or avoiding the relationship. “Me” time should not be used as a method to escape difficult conversations or issues coming up in the relationship. If you find you are using alone time to escape, you might try reflecting on how your habits may be markers of unresolved issues and how you might become more present to tackle difficult moments.

Good “me” time respects the partnership and your partner by avoiding engagement in activities that may harm or disrupt the relationship or foster distrust. “Me” time can allow you to reconnect with what’s important to you and can be used to enhance the connection you have with your partner.

How to Make ‘Me’ Time

Schedule it! Your own time needs to be as important to you as your best friend’s birthday party or your partner’s promotion celebration. Let it live in your calendar and carry the same weight as other important plans.

When you live with your partner, finding time to be alone can become even more challenging. Speak with your partner and find ways to carve out physical and mental space for yourself to do things you enjoy doing—say, reading or working on puzzles.

Below are 20 ways to carve out time for yourself. See how many more you can come up with, then go about picking dates on the calendar to put them into place.

  1. Set aside 30 to 45 minutes after work to do something YOU want to do.
  2. Take a walk or a run by yourself.
  3. Plan a date with your friends.
  4. Plan a date night for yourself.
  5. Tackle a hobby off your hobby list.
  6. Spend time journaling without interruption.
  7. Take a solo vacation.
  8. Treat yourself to a spa day.
  9. Exercise on your own.
  10. Call a friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with.
  11. Go hear live music.
  12. Go on a hike.
  13. Take a long drive.
  14. Go to a movie or museum.
  15. Go to a cultural event.
  16. Go shopping.
  17. Engage in an academic pursuit.
  18. Set up an individual counseling appointment to learn more about yourself.
  19. Find a TV series to watch.
  20. Explore an online meet-up group that matches your interests.

© Copyright 2016 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Deanna Richards, LMHC, therapist in New York City, New York

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • norma

    norma

    May 12th, 2016 at 9:01 AM

    I have always wanted that me time but I guess that I was protective of the time that we had together so I never really wanted to reciprocate and give him the time that he needed too. I know, very bad, but I am learning and trying to get better. I wanted him to spend all of his time with me with little understanding that not giving him the time alone that he needed was not being a supportive wife.

  • Marco

    Marco

    May 12th, 2016 at 10:22 AM

    I have found myself wanting more and more time alone especially now that we have had children. I feel pretty useless as a result and somewhat guilty but I feel like I have lost this big gigantic piece of myself and I don’t think that i will be able to get that back. I know that my wife must be feeling that way too but I don’t even give her time, I just take off and still leave her holding the bag. Pretty crappy of me, but I feel like if I don’t get that time alone I am gonna have to run away for good and I don’t want it to be that way.

  • rusty

    rusty

    May 13th, 2016 at 10:10 AM

    If you are truly with the person that you are meant to be with then I don’t think that there would be this overwhelming need or desire to run away. I mean, we all need some time a lone but not to that extent.

  • Landrey

    Landrey

    May 13th, 2016 at 11:57 AM

    I want the time by myself but then there are times when I get it that I am just so busy feeling guilty about taking it that it really doesn’t even feel like it is worth it. I would like to have that time and just be carefree and not have to worry about everything going on at home, whether my husband has it all under control and the kids are behaving themselves. But all I can think about is are they worrying him to pieces and are they missing me too much and I should just go back home to them right away. Obviously I don’t enjoy the time alone as much as I probably should.

  • JW

    JW

    May 14th, 2016 at 10:03 AM

    I actually believe that when you start to give up all of your alone time to be a part of that we, that is when relationships tend to go wrong the most. Think about it. The person that you were before getting involved is the person that the other person falls in love with. Well when you start neglecting that person that you were then are they going to stay in love with the person that you become when you are no longer nurturing yourself?

  • FRankie

    FRankie

    May 16th, 2016 at 10:22 AM

    My boyfriend is so jealous of me that at first it felt like oh cool, he really cares about me but it has gotten to the point where it is now overbearing and stifling.

  • jonathan W

    jonathan W

    May 17th, 2016 at 10:26 AM

    It has to be about some balance.
    It isn’t fair if one of you always gets time alone and the other always has to participate in family time only.
    If one is getting to do some things on their own then the other partner should be awarded the very same thing.

  • Judith

    Judith

    May 18th, 2016 at 10:31 AM

    We can be so controlling without ever meaning to be. We start to see it as we just want to spend all of the time that we can with this one person while that some person may feel like they are being smothered. You can’t blow out the light of what attracted you to this person in the first place, and I thin that by insisting that they spend all of that time with you you run a very high risk of doing that.

  • ellen

    ellen

    May 21st, 2016 at 9:09 AM

    am I weird for just wanting to spend all my time with my husband and kids?
    call us codependent but I think that we all still actually like spending time together and personally I am just going to take advantage of that as long as I can

  • Aubree

    Aubree

    May 23rd, 2016 at 2:27 PM

    Who on earth who has a family has time like that to set aside for themselves? If it is like my house we get home from work and school and hit the floor running until it is time to get ready for bed! I wish that I had that kind of time, but I just don’t and I think that it is kind of unrealistic to anticipate that everyone else does too.

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous

    September 15th, 2018 at 10:20 AM

    I just recently got out of a relationship where my boyfriend wanted me to spend every minute with him. He would get angry, or really upset whenever I had to work, spend time with friends/family, or try to have me time. It was constantly exhausting, and it didn’t help that I was afraid to leave him alone for the fact that he daily threatened suicide. I left the relationship, but it’s been really hard. Hopefully, someday I’ll find someone who respects that I need time too…

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