Negotiating Quality Time Together and Apart

One of the harder things for couples to negotiate is how much quality time to spend with each and how much time to spend apart. This is especially true when one partner's highest need is for love & belonging and the other person's highest need is for freedom.

Recently, I was speaking with a client who talked about her partner withdrawing from their relationship. She was beginning to wonder if there was a problem with the relationship. He seemed to not want to spend time with her. It appeared that even when he had time to spend, he preferred being alone to spending time with her.

She was struggling with how to broach the subject since she didn't want to use the Destructive Relationship Habits, especially criticizing and complaining. So she said nothing for a while and just thought about the situation.

Later it occurred to her that her man was dealing with many challenges. He was having financial problems, his parents were needing more extensive personal care and he was experiencing a disappointment with some of his closer friends. When she added all that up, she asked him if was feeling sad lately. He thought about it and admitted he was, in fact, quite sad. (It's important to remember that everything isn't about you and the relationship. Don't take things so personally.)

This woman knew that when her partner was experiencing negative emotions, he didn't like to be around anyone, including her. He didn't want to subject others to his down mood until he could figure out what to do about the situation.

He has a high need for freedom and she has a high need for love & belonging. If you are in a relationship like this, you need to ask for what you want. If you want more time together, ask. If you need time apart, take it.

When each person in the relationship puts the needs of the relationship above their individual needs, then negotiating is possible. However, if one person is more focused on their individual needs, then the person with the freedom need will trump the person with the love & belonging need. Why? The freedom need can be met without the other person's consent but the love & belonging need requires the cooperation of the other person.

If you are the one with a high love & belonging need, then find other ways to get that met. You could have an affair which is often one of the first solutions generated because it has the element of revenge. However if you value your relationship, you might want to try other options first. You can spend more time with friends, connect with family members, join a group or organization, or get a pet. There are many ways to get more love & belonging in your life. Give your partner the freedom he or she needs and he or she will return to you for quality time once their freedom need has been satisfied.

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