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    Movies and pop culture often portray two people in love as inseparable and completely enamored with one another. Some struggle when they realize that the experience of real life can be quite different. The truth is that almost everyone in a relationship needs a little personal space and even time away. But how can you get a breather while still maintaining your relationship? Here are some reasons why space is important and also ways to create boundaries and still keep your connection strong:

    1. Tune In To Your Feelings

    Acknowledging that you need a little space in your relationship is the first step. Maybe you miss your friends, or you’re even feeling a bit smothered. Some may be inclined to ignore such feelings or consider them “bad,” but it’s normal and healthy to need time for you.

    2. Communicate About Your Needs

    It may feel uncomfortable, but tactfully communicate that you would like to branch out a bit. Be careful to let the other person know that you are not ending the relationship, but just want to find ways to enrich your life and experience. Sample phrase: “I love our connection, and right now I’m needing some friend time, too. I’d like to meet Sally for a girls’ dinner on Thursday. How does that feel for you?” or “I’m looking forward to our hike Saturday. What would you think about me meeting Sam for a bike ride Sunday?” Express how you are feeling, and listen to your love’s response; it’s possible that s/he is wanting the same thing!

    3. Hold Your Center

    If you have a history of abandonment or unfaithful partners, you may feel anxiety rising when your beloved asks for more individual time. Take a few deep breaths and keep listening. Remind yourself that letting go a little actually builds trust and comfort in a committed relationship.

    4. Pursue Your Individual Passions

    Take time to work on your relationship with you; do something that you enjoy (but perhaps have been neglecting). Sign up for that pottery class, or recommit to working out. Encourage your partner to pursue his or her passion, too. As you enrich yourselves individually, you enrich the relationship.

    5. Nourish Your Friendships

    Although your spouse or significant other is likely your “number one,” remember that no single person can fulfill all of your needs. We as humans are wired to connect, and we have something to learn from different people in our lives. Moreover, there is likely someone in your circle who needs you, so take a break for a day or two and spend an evening with a friend.

    6. Come Back Together Stronger Than Before

    If you need some space and give yourself permission to take it, then you’re practicing self-care and can become even closer to your significant other. Famed German psychologist Erik Erikson explained that “identity precedes intimacy.” In other words, you can only be as connected to your partner as you are to yourself. Paradoxically, your relationship can be strengthened by developing your self and then creating and maintaining space!

    Relationships need a lot to thrive: time, love, honesty, and connection. But each person taking time for him/ herself is an important (and sometimes overlooked) component in creating and maintaining a strong and healthy relationship. Tune in to your feelings, communicate, spend time with your friends and doing what you like, and come back together stronger than before.