Romantic relationships that have blossomed into mutual commitment are a beautiful thing. You have a lover and a built-in best friend who is always concerned with your best interests. You’re each other’s top priority, and you exalt each other’s feelings above almost everyone else’s … A dream. However, there is a healthy boundary in those kinds of commitments that allows these relationships to sustain and endure, and that is having—and giving—space.
Think of this space as an air cushion. Without this bubble of air between you two, there is friction. Friction erodes. It wears down surfaces we’ve honed for ourselves, creating raw areas that are easily irritated or wounded, and it blurs the line of individuality.
Can dull sexual bond
Without crucial space, the margin for our own personal sexual energy is crowded out, which can dull even the steamiest of beginnings. It can dampen the WesterMarck Effect, a name for what is basically known as what prevents us from being sexually attracted to our siblings. The idea is that when two people domestically cohabitate, without enough space for individuality, they can reach a kind of familial desensitization to one another on a romantic level. The idea of being a unit is cute, until you both lose the last morsel of mystery. Cue codependence.
Can lead to codependence
Codependence is like an addiction, and there is no truly healthy partnership that contains this. It’s a deep, psychological reliance on a partner for every decision and activity, and even to share the same emotions. While it’s most common in caretakers of partners with illness or physical disadvantages, it can happen between two healthy people who have also crossed the line from besties to dysfunction.
It creates an unspoken pressure
When we don’t give our partners—or ourselves—room to breathe and grow, it puts pressure on us to be everything to each other. This can drive resentment, as well as leave little room to excel in extracurricular hobbies, work, and other friendships.
We forget to practice self-care
Quality time together is important, but so is quality time with ourselves. With so much expectation to spend time with one another, we lose our sense of self-nurture, forgetting to fill our own cup or secure our own oxygen mask, so to speak. Building ourselves up both physically and emotionally is a pillar of learning how to love others in an open, accepting way.
We can become over-critical
With too much time together and not enough of that “air cushion,” we can become overly critical of the way our partner does virtually anything. Most of the time, this increase in criticism is actually one of the first signs that a partner needs space. Instead of starting a fight, take the cue and give some of that cushion back before coming together and having thoughtful, intentional communication.
Our support system dwindles
In codependent relationships, oftentimes we forget we can also rely on friends and family to meet our emotional and tangible needs. Not only does that create the aforementioned pressure on our partners to fulfill our every need, but it also creates a rift between friends and other relationships because we have not been available for them, nor have they had the opportunity to be available for us.
Having shared activities and spending lots of quality time together is a beautiful part of a loving partnership. Just make sure to take the time to love, nurture, and care for yourself and your friends as a gesture of support to strengthen your bond. It’s important to keep growing as individuals while you grow together.
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