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  • Writer's pictureParker

How Much Personal Time Does Your Partner Need?

If it’s been a while since your last relationship, you’re probably used to calling the shots about your alone time: you exercise; work into wee hours; spend time at will with friends and fam; maintain a committed spiritual or religious practice; or do all the other things that help you be you, on your own clock.

(And if your partner’s work sked is travel-heavy, if they’re a single parent or simply have a healthy relationship with their own inner-workings…they're used to controlling their own time, too.)

Successful cohabimation means committing to learning the in’s and out’s of how someone ticks, and someone's personal-time requirement is a biggie. It can make or break the balance between companionship and suffocation. But it doesn’t have to if you’re honest, and keep two key things in mind:

~ Not everyone craves solitude.

~ ”Personal time” doesn’t necessarily mean alone time.

For the first 18 months of our relationship, we lived apart. Every other week I’d drive an hour and a bit to his apartment where we’d spend five days together followed by eight apart while he raised his then 4- and 7-year-old girls. As you’d imagine, I had a ton of built-in alone time—I easily fit in things that made me happy in the absence of doing what I wanted most (read: being with him). Looking back on that time, however, I was woefully unable to be in the moment…always wondering what his days were like in-real-time even though I knew we’d reconnect a few times on the phone before my next drive to his house. That his work was exhaustively demanding didn’t assuage my missing…but filling my alone time, did.

After I moved in with him and his girls, our personal time swapped between weekends of solitude and child rearing as we dove into co-parenting his littles, whom we now have 50 percent of the time. For him, personal time didn’t exist—he was either with his little girls or this big one—but after nearly 3 years, our need for personal time is reflected in how we handily choose one another over activities we could do alone or with others. 

As for the things I do for me-and-only-me...since I work from home, I prioritize my yoga and spiritual practice when the house is empty. And in 2019 I’m vowing to be better at scheduling “girl dates”…just as long as they don’t conflict with my time with my Baby.

Does any of this resonate? What are some things you do to ensure you’re taking care of your heart while giving it wholly to someone else? I can tell you a good place to start: Before making any hard-and-fast happily ever after decisions, do yourself a favor and ask yourself (and your partner) how much solitude each of you needs in a day or a week before you start feeling smothered. Be ready for what the answer would be. And if you’ve already coupled or are considering coupling with someone with children or a soul-sucking career, make sure you’re clear with yourself about carving out personal time for filling your tank enough to keep filling up the people around you. Surely…a post for another time from this Stepmom-in-training.

Parker contemplating the beauty of nature and life at Rocky Mountain National Park in September 2019. (Photo by Jen Chase)


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