Even if you're deeply in love, that doesn't mean you and your partner want or need to spend every waking moment together.
In fact, there is an emerging body of evidence that says spending more time alone will actually make your relationship stronger.
"Co-puttering" is the term sex educator Debby Herbenick uses, which is when partners are able to connect with their individuality while connecting with each other.
For example, if one person wakes up early in the morning on a weekend, they may go for a walk and then meet up with friend. When they get home, they may find their partner doing something that interests them. They have both spent the morning doing something they love, but more importantly, they can share it with each other afterwards.
At least that's how it works for Canadian Olympian and relationship guru Brianne Theisen-Eaton, who married her best friend and fellow Olympian, Ashton Eaton.
"There are times when we need to get away from one another," says Theisen-Eaton. "We train together all the time, we spend 24 hours together, we eat together and there are times when we just need our own separate time."
But how do you tell your partner you need to be alone?
Theisen-Eaton shares her three tips on how to make sure you're getting the space you need, without hurting your partners feelings.
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The Sleep Savior:
Restoration Hardware sheets
“Living in a studio, our bed takes up the bulk of our main space,” says interior designer Lilly Kuehne
, who’s shared a Brooklyn Heights studio apartment with her husband, Phillip
, since 2013. “Finding bedding that’s aesthetically appealing and comfortable for both us took a number of tries, but finally, we bucked up and bought some adult linens. Restoration Hardware has simple, great-quality options that I buy for clients, so we feel lucky to have some in our own home, too.”
Italian Tipped Satin Stitch Bedding Collection, available at Restoration Hardware
(Photo: Courtesy of Restoration Hardware).
The Shelf Alternative:
“With only two small closets (which house clothing, camping equipment, bedding, and a major shoe habit), things can get out of control real quick,” Lilly continues. “Our Eames Hang-It-All works wonders for containing the ‘stuff’ that gets thrown around. It keeps everything off the floor, bed, and chairs — which makes a huge difference in our day-to-day stress levels.”
Eames Hang-It-All, $199, available at Design Within Reach
(Photo: Courtesy of Design Within Reach).
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The Sound Savior:
Bose® SoundLink® Mini Bluetooth
® speaker II
According to this West Village couple, the right tech makes a world of difference in a small, shared space. "We play music 99% of the time we're hanging out in our apartment, so getting a Bluetooth
speaker was a no-brainer for us. Since we each have multiple music apps and playlists, having something easy to connect to our various devices was key," says Reid.
Jess agrees. "I'm a total neat freak, so I love that the design is really sleek, minimal, and sans wires. It doesn't take up much space in our already cramped apartment, plus we can take it with us when we hang out in the park or go on weekend trips," she adds.
Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth, $199.95, available at Bose
“I recall having to do some heavy persuading when it came to these lucite tables,” says Anne Cassard, who’s shared a home with her husband, Michael Greeson, for five years. “However, I know we’re both continually thankful for their room-transforming superpowers. They can convert from a compact picture-stand to much-needed surface area for morning coffee in a flash.”
3-Piece Peekaboo Acrylic Nesting Table Set, $199, available at CB2
(Photo: Courtesy of CB2).
The Floor Saver:
Creative seating options
“It’s important to utilize a small space as much as you can, and we do that by having as much seating as possible,” says Michelle, who has shared an apartment with her boyfriend Jesse in L.A.’s Koreatown for two years. “We have seating in our kitchen, our living room, in the vanity. That way, if we need to do some work or just want to relax for a moment (together or alone), we have options.”
Soderhamn Three-seat section, Isefall natural, $499, available at Ikea
(Photo: Courtesy of Ikea).
A room divider
“Our apartment is ridiculously small — we’re talking really-big-walk-in-closet small,” says Erika Owen
, who shares an NYC apartment with her boyfriend, Joseph Gonzalez
, a freelance photographer. “As soon as we set up this shelving unit, everything changed. It adds just a little bit of personal space; one of us can chill on the couch while the other naps on the bed. And thanks to its open design, it doesn’t clutter the apartment.”
Kallax Shelving Unit, $199, available at Ikea
(Photo: Courtesy of Ikea).
The Unexpected Necessity:
“There’s nothing I love more than leaving Joseph secret messages via refrigerator poetry,” Erika, an editor at Travel + Leisure
, continues. “He builds bikes in his free time, and I know nothing about bike lingo, so trying to leave cute messages using only bike jargon puts a smile on his face. It’s a great reminder that you love each other, even during the rough weeks.”
Bike Lover, $11.95, available at Magnetic Poetry
(Photo: Courtesy of Magnetic Poetry).
An efficient closet
“The big issue for us was lack of closet space,” says Ethan Alderman of his West Village apartment. “When my girlfriend, Stephanie, and I moved in together a year and a half ago, we custom-designed a closet, had the pieces delivered, and subsequently built it on the back wall. It was pretty expensive, but certainly worth it. It allowed us to have breathing room and free space elsewhere, where we otherwise would have had to store clothing.”
Do-It-Yourself Custom Closet Systems, available at Easy Closets
(Photo: Courtesy of Easy Closets).
A versatile work surface
“I’m a freelancer, so I need a home work space,” says photographer Julia Robbs, who’s shared apartments with her husband, Aaron, in both New York City and San Francisco. “However, we don’t have enough room for a traditional desk, much less an office, so we got this desk from CB2. It’s slim, holds my 27” Apple monitor perfectly, and conveniently doubles as a bookshelf for additional storage.”
Stairway White 96" Desk, $399, available at CB2
(Photo: Courtesy of CB2).
Two streaming devices
“We have two Apple TVs,” Ethan continues. “One in the bedroom, and one in our main area. We both stream a lot of shows on Netflix and HBO — unfortunately, they’re often different shows, so it’s imperative that we’re each able to watch our programs without fighting over who gets the streaming device.”
Apple TV, $59.99, available at Amazon
(Photo: Courtesy of Amazon).