How Much Alone Time Should You And Your Partner Have In A Relationship?

When you first start dating someone or fall in love, it's natural to want to spend all of your time together. However, even if your partner is your best friend, that doesn't mean you should abandon your own personal interests and hobbies. "Fulfilled, happy, and whole people make good partners," Cicely Horsham-Brathwaite, Ph.D., a psychologist and mindset coach, tells SELF, "And sometimes in order to feel that way, we need some opportunity to be with ourselves emotionally or ... physically." It might sound counterintuitive to spend time away from your partner, especially when things are going well. But alone time is crucial for the health of any relationship. It allows you to clear your head, spend time on your own interests, and can help avoid feelings of annoyance and resentment from bubbling to the surface.

And like many things in love, there's no single answer for how much alone time is the "right amount" of time in your relationship. "There isn't a quantifiable number of hours couples should spend together because quality time and quantity time aren't the same thing," sex educator and relationship coach Ashley Manta told Mel. And she's right. Finding the balance between time you share together and time you spend with yourself is all about ensuring both your needs and your partner's needs are met equally. 

Why Does Alone Time In Relationships Matter?

Many people worry that alone time in their relationship will cause distance between them and their partner; However, spending every day together or living in the same apartment doesn't guarantee a deep connection, and it doesn't translate to quality time either. Both partners need to feel present and focused to connect with one another. And experts agree that alone time is just as important as quality time to achieve this. "It's important that couples spend time cultivating their own interests, doing things they enjoy on their own, which helps facilitate a healthy sense of self beyond the relationship," licensed psychotherapist and sex therapist Michael Moran, LCSW, CST tells MindBodyGreen, "Otherwise they risk enmeshment, which usually leads to complacency and feeling unfulfilled."

Not only is alone time important for the health of your relationship, but it's also a chance to strengthen your sense of individuality. "A day of total freedom is both an opportunity to connect with your individual self, and helps foster feelings of empowerment, which is a powerful antidote to the helplessness that a lot of us have felt during the pandemic," psychologist Jodie Eisner told The New York Times, "It expands your recently narrowed comfort zone by reminding you that you're capable and independent." So put your worries aside that alone time is a signifier that your relationship is on the rocks. In fact, it could be just what you need to relight the spark.

How Much Alone Time Is Too Much?

Alone time is important, but is there ever a chance that your partner asking for alone is a bad sign? It's totally normal for your partner to need some time alone to decompress and just do their own thing, however, you shouldn't feel like the third wheel in your own relationship with your partner and what they want. "[Alone time] can become a threat to a relationship or a reflection of deeper issues when alone time is not communicated, when it is used aggressively, or as a form of expression, or when it is taken in spite of the other — to get away, ghost, or exclude," life coach Joanna Townsend tells Bustle.

Then on the other end of things, you have the couple who never spend any time apart. These two start out hot and heavy but as time goes by and they settle into their routine, the pair of them can lose the spark that once kept them going. "They eventually wind up living parallel lives as glorified roommates. Then, there's the enmeshed couple who feel threatened when even momentarily separated. A healthy relationship is characterized by a state of being lying somewhere in the middle," counselor Garett Coan told Martha Stewart. Ultimately, Coan suggests adhering to the 70/30 rule, where you spend 70% of your time with your partner and 30% of your time doing your own thing in order to achieve the perfect balance.

How To Tell Your Partner You Need Alone Time

If you've been feeling overwhelmed or you need a break, asking for alone time might be just what you need. However, it's easier said than done, especially if you're afraid of hurting your partner's feelings in the process. "For some folks, experiencing their partner emotionally or physically distance themselves can feel like a painful rejection or abandonment," psychologist Lee Land told HuffPost. Although this worry is valid, it's important to communicate your needs clearly. Focus on why you need space, using "I" phrases to talk things out, as well as how it will strengthen your bond together.

Another way to strengthen the bond in your relationship with your partner is to learn the signs that they might need some space. While it's not your job to be a mind reader, it can be a show of care and intimacy to learn the ways your partner needs to be cared for. The experts at BetterHelp suggest a few methods for creating space for your partner: the most important among them being not probing your partner for why they need space and instead honoring their request with compassion. Remind them that you are there and ready to listen whenever they need to talk and remember to take care of yourself and your own needs as well. Time apart can be a gift that strengthens your romantic bond, so treat it as such.