The idea of space is often associated with negative feelings – often one partner will be offended when the other person asks for space, either emotional or physical. We wonder about the underlying message and in general, many people tend to associate wanting space with feeling unloved, unwanted and uncared for. But here’s the truth: Space is healthy and being alone does not mean that you are lonely. Emotional and physical space from your partner nurtures the relationship because it provides a sense of independence for both, and it makes your relationship stronger because it allows it room to grow and flourish.

Take actress Elizabeth Banks, for example. She admits that even though her relationship with her husband is the most important relationship in her life, she still gives him some breathing room. Banks says: “In every relationship, you either grow together or you grow apart, so you have to work to grow together. I’m supportive of his passions and he’s supportive of mine – but he does not participate in my book club and I don’t participate in his fantasy football league.”

Why space is a good thing:

1. It keeps your personal life on track.

In a romantic relationship, our interests and hobbies often get pushed aside. Creating space in a relationship allows you to take time for yourself and your personal pursuits. Whether it’s catching up on a handful of pages in your latest book club novel, hitting a yoga class, or learning how to play guitar, having time without your significant other glued to your side allows you to keep on track with the other things that make you happy and feel fulfilled.

2. There’s more time for maintaining friendships.

By creating time and space away from your partner, you have more opportunities to connect with friends. Use the time to plan a dinner and movie night with your girlfriends, or if you have a dear friend that lives far away, you can plan a private Skype date without having your significant other looking over your shoulder or eavesdropping. When you dedicate time to spend by yourself, you foster friendships with renewed and undivided attention. After all, knowing that you have a network of supportive friends to count on is just as important as having a significant other.

3. There’s room to indulge your secret single behaviours.

You know those secret single behaviours that you would rather do in your own company than with someone else in close proximity? Things like plucking your eyebrows, eating nachos for dinner, dancing around to Justin Bieber and/or cleaning your apartment in your knickers all belong in this category. Without having someone around all the time, you can still hold your secret single behaviour near and dear, without getting caught (or feeling like you have to stop said behaviour altogether). Relationship space allows us to indulge in these behaviours and be ourselves, while still loving and maintaining a healthy, balanced relationship with our loved ones.

4. You will appreciate your partner more.

When you both have outside interests, you’re forced to respect the other person’s schedule and commitments instead of taking their time for granted. It’s more likely that you will arrange special dates and activities rather than just flaking out on the couch after work. Indeed, spending time apart will enhance intimacy and allow you to develop a deeper bond and connection. It’s human nature to be attracted to someone who has a wide variety of interests and friends – it keeps you on your toes.