Make space for yourself  in your relationship Make space for yourself  in your relationship

Spending time with your partner is as vital as having time to yourself. Learn how to manage it in a healthy way.

Nicolás Cadavid Betancur
Clinical psychologist

Suddenly having to inhabit the same space as your partner or relatives seven days a week leads many people to feel frustration and fatigue. It’s no longer possible to go out with friends and talk about what’s troubling you, or to make your daily journey and create a space for yourself by listening to music and thinking. While the pandemic may have turned routines upside down, “we need moments and spaces to process emotions”, explains the clinical psychologist Nicolás Cadavid Betancur, outreach director at Universidad CES.

From his perspective, not having a place to store emotions means that we sometimes make decisions ‘hot-headedly’. If this is added to by a complex, uncertain situation from an economic and emotional perspective – as happened with the pandemic – “autonomy is challenged and frustration rises to the surface. The fact is, we human beings don’t know what to do when we’re frustrated: when it happens to children, they throw a tantrum, while adults resort to shouting and aggression. If we knew how to regulate our emotions and do something with that anxiety, frustration or stress, we would discover a way to self-regulate”, the psychologist explains.

To achieve this, whether with your partner or alone, self-knowledge is vital and can be acquired through therapy or by following a spiritual path, among other methods. The important thing is to “know yourself, as this will enable you to know which conditions you need to live, and perhaps to be more relaxed and to give yourself these spaces”. In this way, you can tell your partner ‘I’m going to sit down and watch TV, but I want to be alone’. And therefore, with this knowledge, it will be a valid request.

Setting limits

To that end, says Cadavid, from the outset it’s essential to set limits and define clear conditions for both parties in order to achieve a healthy relationship, thus making it possible to ask to be on your own or with company for a while, maybe because you need a hug that will help you to process the emotion.

“It doesn’t mean that the other person has to like it when you make a request, but even if I don’t agree with it, the idea is to understand it”, he concludes. And understand it with respect, because a ‘no’ from the other party in the relationship is charged with affection and isn’t said with the aim of harming the other person. It’s like saying no to a child because you don’t want them to hurt themselves.

Cadavid reiterates that self-knowledge reveals whether a person has a more dependent or autonomous personality. Some people, due to their makeup, have less need for permanent contact with their partner and need to receive demonstrations of emotion through messages displays of affection, whereas other people enjoy solitude. “The word ‘dependence’ isn’t always negative, because human beings depend on others for some things”. This is instilled in us from that time when we were trying to fulfill our needs for food, company and care at a young age.

Contrary to what you might think, in 2020 many people went back to a relationship, driven by economic or practical reasons. “Some couples got back together and rekindled things, although there were also breakups. This crisis has shown us that a desire emerges to better ourselves and be well, and reconciliation, support and solidarity appear”. •


At this time, isolation and poor emotional management has led many people to develop patterns of anxiety, rumination and negativity. “These thoughts are not fixed, and they vanish over time when you start to process the emotion”, Cadavid explains. When they begin to affect other parts of your life, such as concentration or sleep, it’s important to seek help, which could come from a psychologist but also a friend, your partner or any other figure who could prove useful and enriching.