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

In 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.

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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.

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