Last night, I went over to my best friend’s house for dinner.
He and his partner were telling me about the move to intentionally add alone time into their relationship. Now every Tuesday around 4pm, they take turns leaving to go do something and give the other person the house to themselves. Tongue in cheek, they’ve been calling it “Fuck Off Day.”
It’s funny because a person could hear this and think, Oh, you’re trying to spend more time separated...sounds unhealthy.
When in fact, it’s one of the healthiest things I’ve ever heard a couple do.
They have an incredible relationship. And this practice is intended to maintain that strength.
I’m not an expert in love…but this truth can be applied to everything else in our lives:
Space from people, environments, and activities (especially ones we love) is essential.
Let’s go through some examples in order.
We all need alone time. We need to know what it’s like to simply sit with our thoughts and emotions.
I used to think I was just a wildly extroverted guy. Then I realized I was just surrounding myself with people so I never had to confront my anxieties. When we’re alone, there’s nowhere to hide.
Aside from that, time away from those we care about creates room for us to miss them.
It’s in someone’s absence that we truly notice what they bring to our lives. Until they return. We can’t fully appreciate something until it’s taken away from us.
Since I moved out of my mom’s house, we’ve grown ten times closer. She’s not my roommate anymore. She’s my amazing mother.
When I visit friends from other cities, I cherish every hour of conversation I have with them. I know that when the weekend is over, we’ll go back to our lives hundreds of miles apart.
In breakups, we can logically know that it’s for the best…yet we still feel the agonizing pangs of loss not having this person to laugh or be romantic with.
All this to say: We need space from people to solidify how much we love and appreciate them.
Why do we take vacations?
For the Gram, yes. But also to just fucking get away.
Away from our routines, our neighborhoods, our kitchens.
There’s something liberating about being in a totally new place. We’re often not even sure what the place is going to look like or what it has to offer. We just know we’d like a change of scenery.
I take one trip every month. Sometimes to another state. Sometimes out of the country. Why?
Because I work on weekends. Several of my clients work nine-to-fives and I don’t do calls on weeknights. That means I often work seven days a week. And that means I can only take so much before I have to get the fuck out of here.
I love this office but after a certain amount of time, any room can feel like a prison cell.
So I go somewhere. I visit a buddy. I see my family. I go hiking. Sometimes I just take the weekend off and host a friend here at my apartment.
It’s actually nice to not do my morning routine for a few days. But then, after taking that space, I quickly crave my old environment. I miss my desk, my roommate, my bed.
Then when I return home, I feel refreshed. I get back into my habits and rituals feeling reignited.
All because I took some time away from them.
I love chess.
But there’s a reason I don’t play it for eight hours a day. It’s the same reason I don’t do anything for that long.
I’d get sick of it.
I had a session yesterday with a super ambitious salesman. He loves his job and is always eager to do well and help his team.
But the job is so time-consuming that he feels he doesn’t have any time for himself. So we created some boundaries for him to set and build that time (i.e. space).
I asked him: “What would you be able to do with the free time you create?”
He responded immediately: “I’d do my job better.“
He wants space from his job so he can be more present and capable when he’s in it. That’s how I feel about chess, coaching, and everything else. That’s why we need rest days from the gym—to allow our muscles to rebuild themselves and recover.
Intentional time away from the people and things we love strengthens our relationships with them.