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My girlfriend and I have "fixed" days we see each other, because we normally don't have time on other days. Sometimes, it happens that her training gets cancelled and she has time that evening and most times I do have time, too. I am fine if she then asks if we want to meet and I say "Yes".

The circumstances I am not fine with meeting is if we met like four days in a row and over the weekend (we often spend the whole 48h together) and then her training got cancelled. On these occasions I do want to have some time for myself, e.g. playing PC games (I need this from time to time to relax fully) and therefore I decline her question if I want to meet.

Whenever I decline, it hurts her feelings. I do understand that rejection hurts, so I would like to be able to tell her I don't want to meet without hurting her.

She does know that I need from time to time a bit of time to relax for myself and she does understand it. I already thought about having her think about it, if I want to meet in that day by herself, but I think if she does this and comes to the conclusion that I don't want to meet, it will hurt her just the same. I am really out of ideas on how to handle these situations.

We are both from the same culture and country (Germany). She is close to 20 and I am 20. I already told her that I sometimes need time for myself (it's not a scheduled meeting or something, it's my spare time)

11 Answers 11

197

Having been here before myself, I think you need to realize what this means for your relationship. You don't feel able to relax and have you-time with her around. This is probably because you place a set of responsibilities on yourself when you spend time with her, but also want to be able to shed those responsibilities at times and do what you're interested in without making her happiness your responsibility from moment to moment.

That's fine, but I think that you also need to remember that one day, if the relationship goes really well, you will live in the same house and share a bedroom. You will not be able to take a day at home away from your relationship with her then, which means that you need to be sure that the nature of your relationship is such that both you and she can share the same space, without feeling under pressure to "act the girl/boyfriend."

So I think it's important to ask yourself what aspects of your relationship stand in the way of you having you-time when she is physically present. Does she not enjoy (or is actively critical of?) your hobbies? If so, then I think you need to modify the dynamics of your relationship so that she understands that your hobby is important to you, and that if the two of you spend enough time together, you are going to spend some of that time doing a hobby she doesn't enjoy, and she can either join you or do something that interests her on her own.

Is she an extrovert (being energized by attention) while you are an introvert (being exhausted by attention?) If so you need to explain this to her. The following comic can be a helpful aid when having this conversation:

A small guide to "Understanding the introverted"

Are you placing mental demands on yourself, in her presence, that she doesn't hold you to? If so, then you need to acknowledge that and free yourself of your own expectations that are causing you to not enjoy too much time spent together, for the good of the relationship. Remind yourself that if your putting this pressure on yourself requires time apart, and that hurts her, then the standard you're holding yourself to is actually hindering both of your enjoyment of the relationship.

Ultimately, the key is honesty. Just tell her how you feel. If this is difficult for you, my experience is that if you just tell her that you're sorting out some feelings about your relationship, she will invite you to share them (and genuinely want to hear them.) Most people will surprise you with how appreciative they are of honesty, even when you're being honest about something they dislike. The hurt feelings are temporary, but the trust your honesty builds is long-lasting.

Just be sure that if you explain not just what you want, but why you want it. You're redefining the relationship not because you're not happy with her, but because you want to create a dynamic between the two of you that can work for both of you long term. Let her know that you've been doing things just for her, and need to be allowed to do more for yourself, otherwise you don't think that the relationship can work, and you want to make it work. The changes actually represent a bigger commitment to her, not less of one, even though it means time spent together where you're less attentive toward her. Be sure she understands that.

Some people (especially men) have trouble talking about their feelings, but it's important to weave your feelings into such a conversation. "I feel tired when we spend too much time together. Then I ask for time apart and feel guilty because I don't want to hurt you." Most women, in my experience, really appreciate this because it allows them to feel closer to you. Once they understand the emotions that motivate you, they don't feel that you pulling away is a symptom of emotional distance, just you needing something that they can give you to help the relationship. They will appreciate you being honest about how you feel because it allows them to understand you better and trust you more.

The long-term success of your relationship depends on how well the two of you, working together, can address exactly these types of issues. If you plan to spend your lives together, you will have to be able to communicate how you feel about your relationship, what each of you want, and come up with an effective compromise together. And the longer you wait to have this conversation, the more difficult it will be, because it will feel like more of a departure from your established way of being together.

Source: I did exactly this during a long-term relationship, and have learned from the mistake. When I was with her, I mentally put myself in "boyfriend mode" and after a few days, found myself wanting her to go away so I could just be myself again. In boyfriend mode I wouldn't participate in hobbies that we didn't share together. And I, an introvert, would make a best effort to keep up with her, an extrovert in social situations, which I found genuinely exhausting. It wasn't fair to myself or to her, and deteriorated our relationship in the long run.

21

After taking such a day in which you take some time for yourself, the next time you see each other do some of the following:

  1. Thank her for letting you have that day
  2. Give her a small gift (flowers, chocolate, etc.)
  3. Tell her she gets to decide what you'll be doing that day, absolutely anything she wishes

Counteracting this seemingly negative situation (you say "no" to an outing) with a positive outcome you'll see that in time she will start to react differently. That is because you've transformed it into something else, something somewhat positive.


Me (22) and my boyfriend (21) have been together for 2 years now and this works for us when one of us is busy and we can't meet, but we compensate on a later occasion. ("One of us is busy" can mean times when we just needed a lazy day, or he wanted to go out with his friends.)

Obviously the method that worked for my relationship won't work for everyone, at least in my case it helped us accept when the other isn't in the mood for going out/is too busy. In the end it all comes to mutual respect and understanding; if one takes advantage/holds it against their partner then they clearly need a more in debt discussion about boundaries.

17

I'd suggest to be very careful when approaching this issue with your girlfriend. The truth is that you need your moments on your own and that you'd prefer not to meet "too often" because you want to manage some times for yourself. You're perfectly right. However, telling her something like

We've already met 4 times this week. I'll see you this weekend, as planned!

could lead to big fight, as you can imagine.

What I suggest you is to plan a nice moment with her (at some time you were not supposed to meet but she was available and wanted to), something like a dinner, and approach the issue with her.

I love you, and I love these moments I spend with you, but I also need some time on my own, so when you're free and weren't supposed to be, I'm a bit "annoyed" because I've already planned these activities I love to do alone. I thought about this agreement we have about taking some time to play while we are together. What do you say we stop taking these moments and instead fully commit to each other while being together, so we can truly enjoy our free time on our own?

Prefer quality to quantity.

This obviously is a suggestion. I can't tell you you need to give up on these moments you've planned to play while together. But for the record, I have been with my boyfriend for almost two years and we moved in together three months ago. Before that, we didn't meet that often and the guy is a big fan of gaming, but never played while I was with him. It worked because we were meeting several times a week. Now that we live together we do commit to our own hobbies (understand him playing and me reading) while home and it's perfectly fine too. But living together is a different adventure.

12

You made me join IPS, damn you and your relatable question. So here it goes.

I take personal time rather seriously and everyone else should too. Just because you are in a relationship doesn't mean you have to be together a set number of hours each week. There is no quota to fill, like one of the other answers suggests.

Indeed, when you are in a relationship, your actions affect your partner, and you really should be considerate to them, but that doesn't change the fact that you are different persons, each with your own friends, family, interests and personal time.

If you wish to be together 24/7, that's great! If you don't, that's also great! Thankfully, we are all grown-ups, and we should solve our issues as such. I mean by talking, of course. You should explain that both of you should respect your respective boundaries and it doesn't mean anything if you simply don't want to meet on that day. That's how you should proceed, in my opinion: explain that to her and see how that goes.

Also, in my opinion, you should be aware of two things. They may or may not apply to your situation, from what I understood of it. You should be the one to decide that.

  • Inconsiderate, selfish behaviour

    Ignoring the other person, feeling apathy towards them and generally avoiding meeting them, may mean several things. Whether it means you are a jackass, or simply you aren't happy with your relationship and this is how your frustrations manifest, in either case you should deal with the issue, either by confronting yourself or your partner. (Usually with both causes there is a good chance you are both contributing to this situation.)

    I don't think this applies to you, but your girlfriend may see things that way. If this happens, try to explain to her why she thinks that and maybe try to clear up a misunderstanding you both have.

  • Possessive, obsessive behaviour

    Some people simply expect you to do exactly what they want. To get you to act that way, they will either guilt-trip you to do it or threaten you or use any other means they find, like reward systems. This leads to sick relationships that usually harm both parties. Bear in mind though, the person who acts like that may have good motives. This may be the only way they know to express caring and love. Or due to their circumstances, they may desperately cling to you. They may simply not have anything better to do, but that isn't your problem. No matter the reason they cling to you, it isn't right or healthy, and it will not end well.

To conclude, supposing you made it that far after that wall of text:

Talk with her, be considerate and understanding, and remember that the lines between caring and possessive, between uncaring and wanting some personal space, are blurry, fragile and subject to personal opinion. That's my two cents at least, might be wrong. Cheers, mate!

  • 1
    I appreciate your wall of text. I think the first thing you mentioned is not applicable to us. The second one also not really, but she truely is sometimes a little bit clingy and from what she tells me, she also knows this and feels it herself whenever she asks to meet out of our fixed times. In my opionion, it doesn't mean anything if you simply don't want to meet that date is for me the most important point you mentioned. – XtremeBaumer Sep 20 '17 at 13:18
  • Glad I could offer some help , even a little. You are right is is important but it is important you both think that way, and if she thinks something else try to understand why, maybe she has point. Regardless if she is right or not , you will learn more about her and that is always good, understanding and willingness to understand is the key to everything. – Mikailo Sep 20 '17 at 13:26
6

Just explain you need "me time"

I work a concentration intensive job and I'm introvert-ish regarding how I relax. I need to zone out every once in a while, gaming is a perfect outlet. I like it if my girlfriend is in the same room, I just mind getting distracted/disturbed.

You can make it her choice:

Hey X.
I use our off days to relax a bit, a little me-time, gaming helps me do that, so that when you're around I can do fun activities. I like the not having to talk to anyone or interact with anyone part of it, which isn't anything personal, I just need that sometimes.

I do like it when you're around, so if you want to read a book or something, that would be fine, but I'm not going to be very talkative. It's up to you.

When she comes over, stick to that. If she keeps disdurbing you, just explain it again. If everything if fine, don't forget to "reward" that. You could after, say an hour, drink a cup of tea together. Or maybe watch a episode of something.

6

Roundabout answer to your actual question: It sounds as if you guys are similar to my husband and myself. He is an introvert who will play video games to rest and recharge. I'm more of an extrovert. It’s a pain in the butt when I want to go and do something fun with him and he just wants to sit inside all day, but as a couple we are learning how to allow each other to have the time they need - quiet time alone for him, more adventure/doing stuff time for me.

A book that REALLY helped me understand WHY he needs this recharge time is one that I'd suggest the two of you guys read through together. It is called Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that never stops talking by Susan Cain.

As more of the extrovert in the relationship, it really helped me to understand that him needing to be alone or spend a few hours hyper-engrossed in video games is not him shunning me, but him recharging so he can activate "husband mode" once again. I'm trying to convince HIM to read it too, so that he stops beating himself up for being a "party pooper" or some other nonsense when he doesn't feel like being "on" and going out.

Alternative solutions and options: I'd also second trying to get her into some of the multiplayer games that you play. That way if you didnt want to be physically near her, you guys could still satisfy her need to be together via online play and VoIP chat. I think you mentioned that she doesn't have some of the games that you really enjoy - what about buying a copy for her? Or there are some cool Steam games such as Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime that require cooperation to be successful in. Using LogMeIn Hamachi you guys can simulate a LAN connection over the internet for games that require a LAN network :)

Actually, come to think of it: Minecraft is also a SUPER fun option for multiplayer coop. You can use Hamachi and the "open to LAN" option to avoid paying for a server. There are some modpacks out that make it a LOT more interesting too (look into FTB modpacks).

Or what about board games? Would it be easier for you to spend longer times with her if you guys could play board games for a while? (my hubby finds it less taxing to be social while playing a board game) Some awesome 2-player ones (with varying levels of complexity) are: Hive, Star Realms, Patchwork and Netrunner.

5

To be blunt - I question what future this relationship has.

Ultimately, a successful relationship "for life" will be one where you can simply spend time together, and if you want to spend some of that time playing computer games, your girlfriend will have to understand that.

It sounds like you have reached a point where you both need to be clear about your own feelings. It seems that your girlfriend is at a point where she wants to spend all her time with you; but you are not at that point, because you are putting on a show for her every time you see her and you find it exhausting.

I think the solution is very simple. Let her know that you aren't planning on doing anything special and will just be gaming, but that she is welcome to come over.

If she can't cope with you gaming while in her presence, or if you can't cope with her presence while you are gaming, the relationship will never be more than a casual thing, and you will both end up moving on and learning from it. You're both young.

However I doubt you will find a girl out there that supports your desire to play games alone instead of spending time with her. So you need to be clear about your own priorities and what you are prepared to sacrifice for the sake of relationships in the long term.

  • 3
    Hey, do you have some kind of back-up as to why a relationship can't work if both people don't spend all their time together? And as to why the relationship issue can't be fixed by just talking? – Ælis Nov 21 '18 at 12:03
2

Time together

The circumstances I am not fine with meeting is if we met like four days in a row and over the weekend (we often spend the whole 48h together) and then her training got cancelled.

When I read this, what I am hearing is that on weekends, you are usually making it completely her time. You spend forty-eight hours straight (or more) together. As a result, you somewhat resent having spent the days before the weekend together and will really resent it if she asks for more days after the weekend.

What would you do if you lived together? You would not have any days that you could expect not to be in her company. She'd have nowhere else to go. You'd have to make me time while she is physically present or by her going somewhere temporarily (out with friends or whatever). So if your relationship is going to succeed long term, you have to find a way to carve out time for yourself while she is around.

Alone time

Considering doing that during your existing weekend time. Try to carve out a period where you are doing one thing and she is doing something else. That way, if she tells you that she wants to come over Monday evening, you won't see it as losing the first day in a week that you could be alone. Then if you can't meet as much during the week, you can cancel your alone time and do something with her instead.

I don't know what she likes to do, so I can't really suggest anything concrete. A traditional example (may not fit her) would be someone who enjoyed cooking. She could be preparing a complex meal while you game, and friends could come over to eat with you. You'd be fresh off some alone time and ready to spend time with others.

Extrovert or introvert?

Others have suggested that the issue might be that she is an extrovert while you are an introvert. I'm not sure that that is the issue. An extrovert likes spending time with other people. An extrovert would be trying to drag you off to places with lots of people. But you don't mention anything like that. Someone who likes spending lots of time with only one person sounds more like an introvert to me.

The problem seems to be that she detoxes by spending time with you while you want to detox by spending time with your computer. An extrovert would be easier, as an extrovert would like spending time with other people and could be diverted into that. An introvert can be harder if she is using you as part of what she considers alone time. I.e. she is so comfortable alone with you, that she'd prefer to spend all her time like that.

You know her better than we do. If you think she is an extrovert, then she probably is. But I wouldn't get so caught up in other people's explanations that you try to treat her as an extrovert when she's really an introvert. Someone who likes spending a lot of time with a small number of people is an introvert. Extroverts like strangers. They don't normally get described as clingy.

Compromise together

Remember, for her, these times when she can come over extra are a blessing. If you tell her that you don't want to see her that evening, it's ruining the blessing. It takes her from a high to a below average. This is probably especially so because you normally do accept these extra visits. If you can find a way to change the few times when you don't want the visits so that you are more in line with her feelings, then it will be easier on the relationship.

As others have said, the important part is to communicate. You need to express what you need and learn what she needs. You should come to some kind of compromise that works for both of you. Don't get too caught up in the specific problem of the days when she wants to come over but you don't. From your description, that seems like more of a symptom of what happens when you spend a lot of time together. Consider solutions like not spending every weekend hour together.

It is of course possible that this relationship will fail in the long term. It's hard to tell. But I would recommend first trying to make this relationship work. The effort spent trying to work out a compromise in this relationship may simply pay off and make this relationship work. But if not, then it will still serve as good practice for future relationships. Because all relationships involve compromise. And perhaps this is the right relationship for you. Maybe it just needs some early adjustments to set up long term compatibility. That's your decision to make.

1

I commented to your question:

Curious, what does your girlfriend do if she is alone? What are her hobbies?

You answered (The first part of it was targeted at the other dude):

Sometimes she learns for school, or she has training or chills with her family or friends. And on some rare occasions she just sits on her bed, watches TV and plays with her phone.

So why don't you jump into a few of her games? Let it be something active. For example, do some sport together. Choose a sport you both really like. Deepdiving, FKK, Bungee jumping, whatever. If in doubt: You come first! Why? The idea is not to do something for her but to do something with her. Fun for you both, not just for her. If she says: "no, I don't want to do anything of that", say: "ok, I go alone". And once you are alone you can decide if you want to actually go there or if you play video games instead. She had her chance to actively participate, she refused, her problem.

Two possible outcomes:

  1. You two have new things you love to do together. Fun. Can you find more?
  2. She doesn't want to do these things and stays at her home (not at yours). This means undisturbed time for yourself.

In both cases the situation improves, at least it becomes more honest.

It doesn't have to be sport. Play Playstation, watch movies, visit events – game conventions, sport events, etc – as long as it is something you both can do together without having to talk all the time. Make a list of such things. Write it down.

Having to constantly give attention to each other is a win-lose situation in my opinion, if not lose-lose. Together giving attention to things, beings, events, ideas, is a win-win situation – if both like it.

In my opinion, to share interests is necessary for a life long partnership.

  • It's a good idea, no doubt. Yet normally our weeks are filled completly. We spend kinda all the time we both have free together (not on special occasions when her training got cancelled or such). Therefore it would be hard to squeeze something else in there – XtremeBaumer Sep 25 '17 at 10:59
  • Dont do it extra, do it instead ;-) – Nils Sep 25 '17 at 11:20
  • Instead of our own hobbys or in the time we meet? – XtremeBaumer Sep 25 '17 at 11:26
  • both, i guess. For example, can you both do your new sport thing instead of her sport she is doing currently? Just a suggestion, she may not want to chancel that and that is very ok. Otherwise use the time you usually meet as this is also the time when you request timeouts. – Nils Sep 25 '17 at 11:53
0

I have been in the exact position and now am happily married with her. As extrovert as I look I need introvert time to relax and gain energy.

Like other answers say: telling her you need time for yourself and be positive about it will make the other person aware you need it.

Early in a relationship this might be hard. You can: Plan Meetup with a friend so you have a good excuse to get out of the house and afterwards you can go home and go your thing.

Make sure though games are always the means to the end of relaxing. Not the goal in itself. If you bust yourself thinking about games all the time your with her you should consider finding another way to spend alone time. (Might be a no brainer, but anyways good to keep in mind.)

I still play games from time to time because I really like it, but often afterwards it's a mental struggle to fight of the addictiveness to finish the whole game at once/ASAP (like bench watching watching series).

0

I am an introvert and need "me time" but when I first started dating my girlfriend, I was disconcerted by her being fine doing her own thing. In fact, she's like you, and needs time to do her own thing.

What I've learned is that she really does care about me, she really enjoys being with me, but she also has her own interests and things that she wants to do, just as I do. We now live together, we enjoy doing things together, we've learned to enjoy some of each other's hobbies. When we are together, we are together, enjoying and communicating But we've also learned that having "me" time is necessary, and when the other person is busy or engaged in a project, we leave them alone. I think our relationship is stronger because we are willing to let each of us being independent people.

It's not a bad sign that you don't want to be together 24x7. When you are with your girlfriend, be really with her, not looking at the phone. Enjoy the time together. But also make it clear that you need some "me" time. It may just take some time for her (as it did for me) to understand that time apart doesn't detract from the relationship. And that that time apart gives her a chance to be herself, independent of you.

protected by Community Aug 24 '18 at 11:19

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