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Sex with Dr. Jess


October 15, 2020

How to Carve Out Time For Yourself

With a very busy and hectic schedule, it’s important to schedule some “me” time for yourself. I chat with Jeff McArthur & Carolyn Mackenzie about this on Global TV’s The Morning Show. Check out my notes and video interview below!

We’re stuck in the house all day and never get a break. How do I tell my partner that I need more time apart?

1. Be specific about your needs. General statements without context (e.g. I need more space!) might not be as effective as more specific expressions (e.g. I’d like to carve out more time for myself so that I can workout more often and reconnect with some of my friends with whom I’ve lost touch.)

2. Explain why you’d like to make the specific change. You don’t owe your partner an explanation for every desire and feeling, but clarifying your why can help them to better understand your needs. I miss going out with Sally, so we’re going to have drinks and dinner after work on Thursday. I always feel so energized after a night out with her. You’re not saying you don’t want to spend time with your partner; you’re explaining why you want to engage in an activity with someone else.

3. Sign up for an online course or event on your own. Pick something that interests you and encourage your partner to do the same. You’ll meet new people and you won’t be able to rely on your partner for social engagement if you attend on your own.

4. Encourage your partner to do the same. What are they passionate about? Sports? Art? Poetry? Fitness? Buy them a set of online classes as a gift!

5. Reinforce your commitment to the relationship when you talk about time apart. I love hanging with you. Do you want to go to the gallery opening on Friday? Cool. On Thursday, I’m going to spend some time on my own.

6. Accept that you will disagree and don’t avoid conflict. Just like your desire for food, sex, sleep and exercise will differ from your partner’s, so too will your desire for time spent apart and together. Be honest about how you feel and don’t take it personally if you don’t always agree.

7. If you have trouble carving out time apart, tack it on to something you already do without your partner. Maybe you go grocery shopping, attend a yoga class or play softball on your own. These small time frames already exist, so try to expand them by an hour or two next week.

My partner is dropping hints that they want more time apart and it makes me feel insecure. How do I get over this insecurity?

You’re already on the right track. Most people don’t admit to vulnerable feelings, so the fact that you’ve named the feeling – insecurity – means that you’re better equipped to work through it than most people. I’d suggest that you ask yourself what you’re afraid of? What are the stories you’re telling yourself? For example, do you think that time apart means breaking up? Do you think it means you’re more committed than they are? What conclusions are you drawing? When you flesh them out, do you think they’re realistic? You can assuage your own concerns and also ask for your partner for reassurance.

And I also suggest that you talk to them to get a better understanding of why they need more time apart. Ask for clarification if they’re dropping hints.

I love my kids (6 & 10), but they’re all over me. I can’t go to the bathroom without them waiting outside the door. I need a break. Help me!

You’re not alone!

Do you have a partner who can help out and give you some relief and reprieve? Oftentimes, kids turn to one parent because they get more of what they want from them — attention, physical affection, words of affirmation or dedicated quality time without devices. Can your partner learn to offer these supports and cultivate a relationship in which the kids turn to them?

And regardless of whether or not you have a partner, can you talk to your kids about your own boundaries. Can you let them know that you love them and you need alone time to take care of yourself? This is an opportunity for a teachable moment about communication and self-care.

My best friend and I have fallen into the habit of meeting up almost every day since COVID. We’re basically bubbled with each other and nobody else. At first, It was all good, but now I feel like it’s too much. She just assumes she can come over every day. How can I tell her that I actually feel a bit smothered even though I love her company?

Great question!

Can you plan for the week ahead of time. On Sunday, can you connect to discuss your schedules and carve out time together and apart? And I’d hope that you could let her know how you’re feeling. Can you tell her how much you value your friendship and enjoy her company and also indicate that you sometimes want to be alone. We all have different social needs. Some people need more alone time than others and you’ll likely be more fulfilled if you express  your needs (with sensitivity).