In any relationship (including marriage), there are three types of spaces: her personal space, his personal space, and their common space. These three spaces relate to anything: friends, time, interests, values, territory.
How People Lose Themselves in Relationships
She has time for her ladies’ affairs – to go shopping, apply a mask to her face, chat with her friends. And he has his own personal time – to play on a computer, go to play football with his friends, just lie down and do nothing. Plus, everyone has a job. And they also have space in which they spend time together, whether it is a family dinner, going to the cinema or to the theater, a trip to IKEA to by some new chairs.
Family psychologists believe that in healthy relationships there is an “I”, “you” and “we”. Moreover, each couple has its own ratios. A couple, for example, has a large personal space, and they need everyone in the room to be able to be alone. The other couple does not need this, because they can be happy by themselves. And this is why they spend time alone, they are not sick of each other, they just want to do the things they like. If you feel like your partner doesn’t appreciate your personal space, then it is probably better to break up. Remember that you can always just meet a girl online and start dating, there is no need to fight for someone that doesn’t respect you.
As everyone already guessed, problems in a couple begin when the fragile balance of personal life and the common life is violated. To zealously protect their personal space, defend autonomy – this is usually a male tendency. But to fall in love with a partner and spend as much time together as possible – this is usually a female tendency.
Let’s, for now, focus on the latter. Women are biologically embedded in the desire to create common space and share things with men – relationships, home, family, children. But sometimes, women do not notice how this instinct makes them unhappy. And not only us, but our partners as well.
Of course, I want to spend more time with my loved one. But every time you refuse to meet with friends in order to stay at home with him, you give away a part of yourself. This happens every time you change your plans, give up your own goals, and sacrifice “your” time for the sake of “ours”.
The vilest thing is this: while you do this, you are doing it out of love, you are doing it for free. You do it voluntarily, of your own free will. And then you realize that you forgot about yourself, you forgot about the things that are interesting to you and spent all of the time on your partner. When it turns out that you no longer have your friends and hobbies – you fall into depression. When you suddenly look at yourself and realize that, at some point, your interest in life has disappeared, you start feeling like there is someone to blame but yourself. This happens gradually. You slowly and faithfully give everything that you have to the person you love. And getting yourself back up is very, very difficult. The partner is already used to your love, they will begin to quite rightly make claims, why are you so selfish all of a sudden? Why are you moving away from me? They are rightfully angry. And you are afraid of losing them because you have nothing left, it seems to you that without them – you will not be able to live anymore. And it seems to you that there is no way out of this trap.
In such a situation, there is a great temptation to fall into the position of a victim of circumstances and blame the partner for the fact that ” I have given the best years of my life for the sake of you.” But, the issue is, you did it yourself. You can get yourself back. Slowly, bit by bit. Just like you once lost yourself.
This, of course, is extreme. But it is not so rare. And we all sometimes feel that relationships have come to a skew. Maybe everything is not so critical, and you have something left of yourself to build on top of. But some part of you is lost forever. It is difficult to understand where the natural and normal concessions and compromises end, without which the couple will simply fall apart, and where the process of losing oneself begins.
The desire to create common space and the desire to become one with your loved one, never to be parted and to do everything together are two different desires. One of them is mature, the other is childish, infantile.
Psychoanalysts say that we all somewhere deep down want to return to early childhood, when the closest and loved one was by our side constantly. But when we get older, we gain the ability to endure separation and deal with our differences. Here’s the more mature outlook on relationships – “I will give you a lot of my own time and love, but not to the point that I am going to be left with nothing in the end”. This may sound harsh, but this is the approach one should have in a successful relationship.