I love my girlfriend but my need for alone time to focus on my interests exceeds most individuals. We moved in together about 18 months ago (she moved across the country with me when I had a job opportunity so she does not have many friends in the area) and the first six months or so were fine but it quickly began to feel suffocating with her being there all the time (she works from home so I get almost no time to myself).

I have hobbies like painting and reading that my girlfriend scolds me for; she wants things that we can do together only. We do many things together, it's just that she expects us to do something every day which is difficult for me while also maintaining my other hobbies. I understand this on some level because she moved across the country with me when I moved for a job and has not made many friends here since she works from home.

About eight months ago, I secretly rented a second apartment in the same city and pretended I needed to travel for work two days a week for an extended period of time. Everything was going great until one of her friends saw me entering this apartment when I was "out of town".

Now my girlfriend thinks I'm cheating on her and I don't know what to do. I fear she'll leave me but I just want to find a good way to explain to her my need for alone time without hurting her feelings.

To put a cap on it:

She does not yet know the apartment is mine. I told her I had a hard deadline at work and was at a corporate apartment in the city for this week to focus, but that was an aberration and I am usually traveling (to clarify I am not).

What I would like to accomplish:

  • Tell her that I am not cheating on her and would never remain in a relationship if I had desires for other women.
  • Tell her about the second apartment and admit I was wrong for not telling her about it in the first place.

Ideally I would like to keep the apartment and the two days a week apart but would give it up in order to stay with her.

Is there any way this might be possible at this stage?

  • 1
    Would you want to keep the second apartment even if you can come to an agreement with her that you will have "me days"?
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 20:54
  • 2
    If you could pick, would you rather keep the apartment for alone time, or find a way for her to respect your desire for alone time with the single apartment?
    – corsiKa
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 1:45

6 Answers 6


TL;DR: You messed up, own that to yourself before you talk to her. Don't lie. Express how your lie was wrong to her, and mean it when you say it. Figure out your needs, and her needs, and communicate that to each other exhaustively, and make a plan around it.

First, realize that you have messed up. Relationships are built on trust, and literally every lie that either of you tells erodes that, however small the lie may be. And this lie is about where you are for almost a third of your life? That's...not a small lie. So if you go into the conversation not accepting, and embracing, that you have done wrong, you're going to come off as unfeeling and dishonest. After you've genuinely accepted that you have messed up, tell her all that you wanted to say here as much with honesty, candor, and directness - and if you believe it it will be apparent in your words. You ask how to do that, but really, honesty and directness is your best strategy here - tell her why what you did was wrong, and how it could lead to mistrust and how it was unfair to her. Identify what you did, identify what was wrong, and say "I shouldn't have done that" or otherwise express regret. But before you start making apologies, be sure that you spell out in detail what the actual situation is - and, again, be blunt.

It sounds like her expectations on you were not reasonable. It's important that you lay out your needs, that you make clear why you felt the need to seek an escape. When addressing a topic like this, it's important not to use phrases like "you pushed me away" or "you made me do this." If you're going to talk about her actions, talk about how you feel and what actions on her part contributed to that, and then move from how you feel to how the way you feel guided your actions. Instead of saying something like "You wouldn't let me pursue my art so I had to find a safe haven," say, "I felt invalidated by some of your criticism, and I tried to set up a place where I could pursue my interests without feeling that way," or something like that.

But that's how to explain away your past actions. Going forward, you guys need a plan that meets all of your needs. You need to lay out what your alone-time needs are, what hobbies are important to you and that you will continue to pursue, and the like - and you need to understand what her attention needs are, and the hobbies that are important to her, and the like. You need to know what each of you is willing to give on, what you can't live without and what you're willing to compromise on. And you need to discuss all of this in explicit and clear language so that there are no misunderstandings.

And it may be that there is no plan that meets all of both of your needs. If your needs truly, genuinely, and fundamentally conflict, the relationship may not be viable, but that's a conclusion that you'd have to come to yourself. I'm sure that this is a bit preachy, but a plan that involves lying is a plan that replaces an explosion today with a time bomb. That's still not a safe and stable foundation.

You didn't ask for solutions to this problem, but I'm gonna offer it anyways - it sounds to me like a great solution would be for you to reserve certain days of the week, maybe even the same days, as "you time" days, with minimal interaction. If you can afford two apartments, you can probably afford one apartment with a couple of extra rooms instead - although 'moving back' may not be necessary, it would probably help with the newly-formed trust issues. In a bigger living space, you could designate some areas as "you space," where you can retreat to if you feel smothered. My girlfriend has such a room in our house, actually.

  • 29
    I'm also happy that this answer exists. One thing misses from my point of view. You two may be different types of people, you seem more introvert in that you need you time alone so that you can valuably spend time together. Not everyone is like this, and it may be difficult for an extrovert to understand the introvert's needs and vice versa. This infographic might help. (And if I'm wrong in my assumptions, I truly apologize.)
    – yo'
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 23:59
  • @yo' That's a good point and, honestly, should probably be in an answer instead of a comment.
    – reirab
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 16:08
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    +1 from me. Me and my girlfriend love each other, but even just doing our own thing in a different room even though we're 5 feet away from each other is a blessing for us. It gives us time to do the things that we want to do, but still keep each other company even though we may not be communicating.
    – Anoplexian
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 22:04
  • 1
    This answer summed up my thoughts exactly. I am an introvert myself and at times I need time alone so that I can decompress and re-energize. Having that honest conversation with my wife helped her understand that I wasn't angry with her, I just needed to be able to shut off and re-energize. Likewise I came to understand that there are times where she needs that companionship. Even when our needs clash, we have the tools we need to communicate how we feel so that we can give and take in the exchange. If I instead lied to her about my needs, it would have only confused and hurt her. Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 16:54

Being at the stage of a relationship where you move in together signals that you are in an exclusive, committed relationship. With such a relationship comes the expectation that you are honest with each other, and do not hold large secrets about your life from each other.

Fulfilling this expectation is what enables trust, a vital part of a committed relationship. To trust in your partner means that even though you can't prove it, you are satisfied that they are not being dishonest with you. If it is revealed that one partner has been dishonest about something large, this violates that expectation and would diminish the other partner's ability to trust. That is, if you know your partner has been dishonest with you, you can no longer be content that they won't be dishonest with you.

It appears that right now, your relationship is in a perilous situation. I also suspect you may be wrong about two key things:

  • That she won't consider the truth to be as bad as cheating on her.

  • That the relationship can withstand this.

For the first point, I argue that the betrayal of trust from her point of view won't necessarily be lower than if you were actually cheating on her. While I completely sympathise with needing your time alone, it is also true that you lied to her in order to avoid spending time with her. Not the way you yourself would see it or explain it to others, but nonetheless true. What she will fault you for is not that you want time alone but that you went about it by lying about your whereabouts and secretly scheming to hide your behaviour from her.

I would love to be wrong and for her to feel a sense of relief that you weren't cheating, but my gut is just telling me otherwise.

So, we come to how to deal with this.

I think you will have to be clear with yourself about how the way you went about this was a poor choice, and a betrayal of trust, before discussing it. Any discussion at this point will be counter-productive if you go into it with the belief that you did nothing wrong or that she should have nothing to be upset about.

And then, go over what you did as truthfully as possible. It is definitely likely to make things worse if you use her behaviour as justification for what you did or use words like "suffocating". While I can identify with the feeling of wanting more alone time, care must be taken not to be seen as defending what you did, lest it be interpreted that you don't think you did anything wrong.

This will be dealt with in stages and the first stage will be being as honest as possible about what you did and accepting that she will be upset. Trying to discuss other possible solutions for getting your own alone time is a later stage and should be saved for later. Don't get me wrong, it's definitely important, but pick your time - if she is devastated at what she has learned, that needs a chance to heal before going to the next step.


That was a side plot in the show Six Feet Under actually. The main character's dad, a family mortician, who worked out of his/their own house (place of business) died and they discovered that he had such an apartment for exactly the same reasons you describe. But unlike you was able to keep it a secret; at least to his grave.

Is there any way this might be possible at this stage?

It is a moot point at this time whether its possible or not. You made it possible the day you signed the second lease. The real question is whether your current or future significant others will accept it.

The current one will feel betrayed even if she believes you and either this will kill the relationship or possibly make it stronger.

Any current or future ones will simply question why. With your explanation in hand you will have to give them access (the key) to such abode to show there is no hanky panky going on....

The second apartment is simply a more robust man cave. So maybe look into buying a house which has a basement where you can get away; that scenario could be a better option than paying for two apartments. If you still need time away, actually go out of town but tell them as such.

I actually sympathize with you, there are times I would like to get away....


You need to end the relationship or at least move out until you are ready to share your time and learn how to live with another individual.

Not because you hurt her, but because you are not ready to move in with someone. All of the things that happened have the root on that single fact. It does not matter if you are successful at hiding it, if you apologize, cause you clearly are not ready to compromise and communicate properly with your girlfriend. If you have hobbies, you can do them while she is at home, you are two individuals sharing, not being a possession to the other.

Edit 1: Seems i was missing info on the problem since it was on the comment section of the question.

Still the problem is not the apartment, but a lack of communication between the two and knowledge on what they desire in a relationship and how to maintain it. The OP needs to have serious talk with his girlfriend about how to have his "own time" and how that is not the result of a lack of interest in her. He also needs to understand his own failing at establishing, with her, his desires in the relationship.

Lying in a relationship is not significantly different than cheating, they are both ways to obtain something we believe is currently unavailable in the relationship. By not discussing these deficiencies in the relationship, communication suffers and trust is lost.

Until both sides come into agreement, the solution is the same, end the relationship or take a time out until both know if their relationship is viable or not

Any half way corrective action will most likely not solve the root problem and another issue will surface reverting the OP to this very same situation on the long run

  • 19
    Why is this the OP's fault alone? People in relationships are allowed to have personal time to do their own things. If the girlfriend is unwilling to allow this (as the comments on the question indicate), it seems like there's at least some trouble on both sides. This may not have been a good solution for the OP but implying all of the fault is his seems unfair.
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 19:04
  • 7
    Not everyone is alike. I'm even a bit appalled at OP's behavior, but understanding that not all relationships are created equally and not everyone can be held to the same standards. If OP needs a couple days a week to invest just in themselves, OP needs to be with someone who is okay with that. But your answer doesn't help the OP talk to his current girlfriend to see if she can be that person or not - you're just throwing him under the bus.
    – Jess K.
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 19:17
  • 4
    Catija, please point out where he states that she is unwilling since he has not said that he has had or not had a real conversation with her about this issue. Also additional info should be on the main question, not for others to dig up on the comment section. Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 19:57
  • 2
    Thing is he is he could have done all this without keeping a secret, and that implies that at least on his part he is not ready for that type of relationship. Any half way corrective action will most likely not solve the problem and another issue will surface reverting the OP to this very same situation Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 20:02
  • 5
    @Agent_L They both have work. They both just moved to a new foreign environment. They both have no family there. Surprisingly, she has already managed to find enough friends that her network reached a critical mass needed to catch her boyfriend doing his business around the town. QUite a different picture from what you've described, right?
    – Ark-kun
    Commented Jan 4, 2018 at 10:26

Now my girlfriend thinks I'm cheating on her and I don't know what to do. I fear she'll leave me but I just want to find a good way to explain to her my need for alone time without hurting her feelings.

If you are going to start being honest with her, apologize and admit the mistake. Over a life-time, relationships have to be able to survive all kinds of stresses. I'm a little concerned about the way you are expressing yourself -- you are afraid she will leave you, and want to find some way to express yourself to prevent that. You can't control other people's emotions or reactions, and you have to be prepared for a bad reaction.

Maybe one way to explain the situation is to take her to the apartment and show her what it's about.

Maybe a better way is to go together to relationship therapy, so you can each learn to talk to each other about difficult things, and also to learn how to how to address each other's needs.

Good luck!


I think there are control issues for both OP and his partner.

It is a control issue to not allow your significant Other to have alone time to themselves. It is healthy for every person to reconnect with themslef and enjoy spending some time alone.

It is also a control issue for OP to try to manage his partners emotions by lying about getting an apartment and deceiving her. She is responsible for her managing her emotions and responses, and OP is trying to manage them for her and control her responses by hiding the truth (that he has a separate apartment).

Dishonesty is always a signal that there is a control issue somewhere, even if the deception is with best intentions.

Who is “at fault” in relationships is rarely useful or accurate. Responsibility is meant to be shared between any two people having an interaction.

My best suggestions for long term healthy relating is to read the book Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg. A quick and easy and enjoyable read.

Also, for resolving control issues and conflict, see the inner bonding website run by Dr. Margaret Paul.

As far as what OP could say to his partner, would be something along the lines of... well being blunt is really the best way I can recommend telling her. I have an apartment that I rent. I’m not cheating on you. I shouldn’t have hidden that fact from you. I have a need for privacy and time alone to myself. I’m open to meeting this need of mine through some other strategy which I’m open to hearing your feedback on. I’d like to also work on being more open to learning about myself, my needs, my communication, and learning more about your feelings and experiences.

The OP has to let go of trying to control her emotions by hiding things from her, and accept that he cannot make her open to learning or accepting him or responding positively.

If she was not open to him spending time alone, and she was accustomed to demanding that all his free time be spent with her, then it is not likely she will be open to it now, and OP needs to prep himself for that possible reality.
He cannot control her being open or closed to understanding and meeting his needs. It is more important that he learn boundary setting and learning to see the reality of who she is. If she won’t respect your boundaries, then she isn’t respecting you, OP.

Best of luck to you.

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