What To Say (And What Not To Say) If Your Partner Tells You They Need More Alone Time

Sometimes we need alone time. Whether it's because both people in a couple work from home and spend 24/7 together, or they simply feel stress in the relationship and need time alone to think things through before making any big, life-changing discussions. If your partner comes to you about taking some time for themselves, don't sweat it.

What you want to do is take some time with your partner to talk about their needs and plans when it comes to this time apart. Most of the time, alone time can be just a few hours away from each other. If there's something deeper going on, your partner may want a longer break, and it's important that you hear them out. You should definitely both set boundaries for your breaks, but don't discount them — some alone time can be a great thing for your relationship, and may even strengthen your bond.

Ask what alone time means to them

The first thing you'll want to do is to clear the air about what this alone time will entail. Before you assume your partner wants a full-on break, find out what alone time means to them. Perhaps they just need an hour in their own space, or maybe they need an entire day. It could be something as innocuous as wanting to shut themselves in a room for a few hours of reading or meditation.

Finding out how much time they'll need is important, as it'll ease your mind about when to expect them back. It will also help you avoid disrupting their alone time with text messages asking them when they're coming home. Talk about how that alone time will be spent, and make some plans for ways to take advantage of that time for yourself as well.

If alone time means more than a day away, talk about where they plan to stay and when it's okay to reach out to them. You may find they want no contact for the entire time, or prefer to be the one to reach out from time to time. Respect your partner's boundaries, but don't be afraid to set some of your own. If you prefer they check in once a day if they plan to spend a few days away, ask for this. Explain that it will bring you comfort knowing that they're alright.

Talk about why alone time is important

Understanding the benefits of alone time can help you both cope with your time apart, so talking about the importance of "you" time can help ease the chatter in your head that may be telling you something is wrong in your relationship.

Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter told PsychAlive that, "Constantly being 'on' doesn't give your brain a chance to rest and replenish itself." She added, "Being by yourself with no distractions gives you the chance to clear your mind, focus, and think more clearly." Not only that, but she pointed out that we become more appreciative of our time with our partners when we have some time away from them (leaning into the idea that absence makes the heart grow fonder).

Not getting enough alone time in a relationship can lead to issues, according to some studies. In fact, there is a term used to describe the feelings of dissatisfaction in not getting enough alone time, "aloneliness." If you're dealing with aloneliness, you may be stressed in your relationship, have a shorter temper, and find that you start more arguments with your partner. This is what you don't want, so it's important that you both work out ways to get alone time in.

Don't jump to conclusions

When your partner comes to you to talk about spending more time alone, the last thing you want to do is jump to conclusions. Don't assume they're cheating, want to break up with you, or are tired of your presence. As we've discussed, alone time is an important thing in relationships and can actually be good for you.

Don't be afraid to bring up your worries, though. When you do, be sure to use "I" statements, as you don't want to sound accusatory. There's nothing nefarious going on here, your partner just wants some time to themselves, and this time can be good for you too.

Ask questions. Your partner wants alone time, they're not looking to cut you out of their life, so questions shouldn't be an issue. When they explain why they need some more time alone, be understanding. Let them know they can take all the time they need. Plus, you can make a plan for something special to do at your reunion when they return, which is especially nice when you're taking more than a day of alone time. Even if you're only going to be apart for an hour or two, spend some time together to talk about what you experienced while spending time with yourself — this will also help you both get a better understanding of each other.