A relationship, especially a long-term relationship, can be a tricky balance. You spend time together, you build a life together, but you still need to maintain your individual existences. It’s not unusual to have a moment when you realize that you need to take a step back — and in some cases, you need to take a whole leap back.
It might be because your partner asks you for space—which isn’t a sign that they aren’t head over heels for you or that your relationship isn’t amazing. Needing space is totally natural. But sometimes, your partner might not always ask for it — even when they need it. Maybe they’re shy or awkward — or maybe they just don’t know where to start. So you need to be aware of the signs that it’s time for you to take a step back and be a little more hands-off in your relationship, because no matter how much you love someone, you never want to suffocate them. Here’s what you need to look out for.
You’re Too Involved In Their Professional Life
No matter how close of a couple you are, you should have separate domains — work is often a private domain for each of you. Sure, you may swap stories of your day and ask each other advice, but there’s a level of separation. If you find yourself trying to drive or control their professional trajectory, asking incessant questions about their job, and having a lot of opinions on their coworkers and office, you should maybe take a step back.
You Only Socialize As A Couple
Socializing as a couple is great, but if it’s your only form of socialization then it may be that you’ve gotten a little too connected. There should still be room for both of your passions, hobbies, and friends — and that requires spending some time apart now and again. If your calendars line up perfectly, make sure that you try to shake things up and get some space.
You Tag Along Uninvited
Even more of a problem than only socializing as a couple is socializing as a couple when you weren’t invited as a couple. Some people assume that everywhere their partner is invited also includes them — because they’ve married or they’ve been together so long. But, there’s no way to say this delicately: they’re wrong*.* Look around at social events; if it wasn’t clearly built for couples then assume it was only meant for your partner. Instead of joining in, focus on growing your own experience.
You Speak For Your Partner
Some people really love being a “we” — and let’s be honest, there’s a lot to love about it. But if you’re constantly jumping in with “we” this and “we” that, make sure you and your partner are getting some “I” time, as well. If someone asks your partner a question, they should be able to answer it — even if it’s about something that involved you, too. Just because you do things together doesn’t mean you lose your individuals identities and experiences — and your partner should feel free to share them.
Your Partner Is Getting Annoyed By Little Things
When someone’s a little too hands-on, no matter how much you love them, it’s normal to reach a place where you just can’t take it anymore. If your partner is touchy or seems stressed with you, it may be that they need some space and don’t know how to ask for it. See if giving them some room improves the relationship.
You Call All Of The Shots
From where to go out for dinner to where to go on vacation, relationships are often a series of little compromises. If you find that you’re always making the choices, big and small, then you may have a bit of an overbearing hand in the relationship. Try to take a step back and give your partner a chance to be on equal footing — or else resentment can build in the long term.
You Can’t Imagine Your Life Without Them
A lot of people say that they “can’t imagine” their lives without their partner — but it’s usually as a figure of speech. In a healthy relationship, no matter how much you love your partner, no matter how devoted you are, no matter how strong your relationship is, you should still be able to image your life without them. It may be horrible or scary or even make you feel a bit sick, but you should have a sense that eventually, if something happened in your relationship, you’d be OK. If you really feel like you need this person in an innate way, then you’re too dependent. You can exist without them. If they don’t feel that, it might panic them. You need to take a step back and give your partner some space.
If you and your partner are madly in love with someone, it’s easy to see how you can want to be involved in every part of that person’s life. But your partner needs to feel independent — and they need to feel that you’re independent as well. So sometimes, taking a more hands-off approach is the best thing you can do for your relationship. It might even save it.