In the movie Date Night, Tina Fey and Steve Carrell play a couple struggling to revive the romance of the early days of their relationship. When they confront this issue, they turn to fantasies as one way to re-ignite the spark. Steve confesses that his fantasy is to be with 3 other women, to which Tina challenges him if he could keep up.

Compared to this formulaic exchange, Tina then admits that her fantasy is to go away and be alone - alone where no one is putting demands on her and she can just breathe.
Isn’t it wonderful how comedies can get us to laugh with stereotypical quips while in the next moment allow us to gain a poignant insight? Some may be shocked by her admission that she wants to have space from the person she is trying to reignite passion with, but the fact of the matter is that having alone time is very important ingredient to a successful relationship.

Culturally, however, we’re led to believe that if we find the perfect person we’ll be so well matched that we’ll want to be together all of the time. Our culture also tends to place a positive value on wanting to be with others and a negative value on being alone. This causes couples to confuse the concepts of always and forever. People can be in love forever, but don’t always have to feel that they’re in love. There can be a lot of pressure on couples to meet all of each other’s needs and desires, as well causing people to feel bad about themselves or their relationships if they want time alone or with other people or just don’t feel all that excited about being with their partner at that moment.

The yearning for the perfectly matched mate is not a new concept. Plato introduced the idea in his symposium that human beings originally had four arms and four legs, but the gods were threatened by the power of humans so Zeus split people in two.
“After the division the two parts of man, each desiring his other half, came together, and throwing their arms about one another, entwined in mutual embraces, longing to grow into one, they began to die from hunger and self-neglect, because they did not like to do anything apart… So ancient is the desire of one another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original nature, seeking to make one of two, and to heal the state of man.”

Yet, if we hold that each of us is an individual whole and complete within ourselves and we’re not looking for our other half, is it possible we can create happier and healthier relationships? If, as individuals, we take responsibility for our own happiness, can we more authentically and fully enjoy the dance of life with our partners?

Our energy and individuality need to breathe just like we need to breathe. When a person gets distance from something, often a clearer perspective is gained. We experiment with not being ourselves in order to understand who we are. When we visit other cultures we understand more of our own. This is also true with the dynamic of companionship and solitude - we better understand the value of one in relationship to the other.

Bringing awareness to the concept of alone time allows for couples and individuals to better understand each other and themselves. It allows for people to grow as individuals, which can feed positive energy back to the relationship. Here are three tools to approach the creation of alone time that maximizes its benefits.
Celebrate your differences: You and your partner were attracted to each other because of what made you unique from all of the other potential partners out there. That uniqueness takes time to nurture, develop and sustain. So reinforce with your partner how you value their individuality and how that’s attractive to you.

Consider the relationship of Paul and Jessica. Paul is an avid bicyclist while Jessica practices yoga routinely. She enjoys his stories of camaraderie and competition as he and his friends train and compete in century rides throughout the spring, summer and fall. Paul is attracted to Jessica’s grace, balance and intuitiveness that he credits results from her yoga practice. Clearly, they can not engage in these activities simultaneously or together. Giving time and space to each other allows Paul and Jessica to share vivid and energetic time together as their uniqueness is revived. This is far more than being apart and each just ‘doing their own thing’.

This is also true with their needs for social energy. Paul is an extrovert – an important element of his rides is that he’s doing it with his buddies, whereas Jessica is nourished by her individual practice. While, it’s nice to be well matched with your partner in your needs for social energies, extroverts and introverts can forge excellent partnerships when they honor and create space for the differences between them.

Expansion and contractions of energy allows for greater potential: A basic principle of energy is that it can only expand so far before needing to contract. Falling in love is expansive, but individuals also need time to contract into themselves to recharge and reconnect with their own selves. Couples who are always together may feel safe and comfortable, but sometimes become less confident in their individual strengths. The result if that they rely on the relationship for energy, and in some cases, their self definition. Dancing consciously with expansion and contraction creates safe and harmonious ways for you to use these rhythms to maintain the juice and sparkle of love.

Imagine the individuals as a couple coming together in a very simple dance, a wave like motion where the members of a couple move together and then apart, their distance from one another mirrors each other. So when they part, they are still moving in relationship to each other, yet what the individuals do in their distance is up to them. When they part, they have space to move more freely, one can swing her arms wildly around her, while her partner barely moves in meditative stillness. Yet at a certain point they long to express this energy to the other, so they reconnect to their own inner rhythms as they bring their individual dances together again. There is a magnetic quality that seems to draw them closer and they blend their motions to create something completely new. A more dynamic intimacy is created each time they come back together. And with each new parting, there is the potential for fresh energy to be brought into the dance.

When returning from your alone time allow the energy to feed back in your relationship. Honor what you learned by sharing it with your partner. When your partner returns, open up and honor what the other person got from her time with herself.

Know where you are in the spectrum and what your needs are: The biggest component of using alone time wisely is understanding when you need it and how to communicate it with your partner so that you can use the time to renew yourself. It is your partner’s responsibility to do this for his or herself.

For example, Steve generally didn’t recognize that he needed some space until he found himself staring at the TV ignoring Melinda while she asked him about dinner plans. He didn’t create it consciously with Melinda and so he didn’t really get to actualize his time for something meaningful for himself. One of the biggest beat killers in a relationship occurs when there isn’t consciousness around moving apart and coming back together. When Steve confronted himself to better understand his needs, he realized that he needed half an hour to himself every evening after work to decompress. He was able to communicate to Melinda that this would allow him to enjoy the evening with her (and then she could enjoy him rather than have a grumpy husband). He also realized that he would be better nourished if he used the time to go for a quick run rather than watch TV. Over the course of the last 6 months he lost 25 lbs and he and Melinda enjoy a much happier relationship.

Get to know the signs in yourself that indicate your need for alone time. Perhaps you no longer feel present in your relationship, or you feel like you don’t have anything to say. Then discover what you need to create for yourself. How much time do you want? What do you want to do with that time?

Couples can give each other love their individual spaces, where ever that space may be. When couples value their own individuality and doing their own thing, they are still loving each other from there. Couples who value and trust that, create a powerful magnetism that will draw them back together again, even as their individual dances sometimes move them apart. There is a grace and a positive energy. The distances between them may be small or great, but they are always closest in each others' hearts.

Author's Bio: 

Author of Simply Sacred, Everyday Relationship Magic and The Alphabet of Inner Demons and How to Tame Them, Jennifer Zurick-Witte is a personal coach and confidante as well as an inspired rock climber. She's brought that courage into over a decade of helping men and woman overcome daunting personal challenges, from forging more intimate and meaningful relationships to charting new paths associated with life's transitions. If you are interested in learning more about how this certified coach can help you craft creative solutions that let you climb to new heights in your life, check out her website, While there, make sure you check out pictures of her dog who is convinced he's a kitty cat trapped in the body of a 179 pound Tibetan Mastiff.