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Space in a Relationship

How much emotional space do you occupy in your relationship?
Could the amount of emotional space you and your partner each
take up have anything to do with whether your relationship makes
it or not? Indeed it does.

Just what do I mean by "emotional space?" It's the time,
energy, and space your partner spends dealing with or listening
to your emotions, words, thoughts, wants, needs, etc.

When it comes to the emotional space dynamic, there are three
types of couples:

Type 1: One person in the relationship takes up most of the
emotional space.

In this type of relationship, one partner seems to be super
involved, expressing most of everything in the relationship.
This person may seem extreme, emotional, needy, intense, and
possessive, while the other person may appear to be uninvolved
in the relationship, seeming to have hardly any needs at all.

The partner that seems super involved is typically filling up
the most emotional space in the relationship, often out of fear
that there will not be a relationship if the emotional space is
not occupied.

Unfortunately this is a mistake. The emotional life of the
relationship needs to be generated by two people as equally as
possible. Otherwise, you end up with a lopsided relationship and
with both people unhappy. One will be unhappy because he or she
is always working on the relationship and the other one will be
unhappy because he or she seemingly can't get a break from the

What's more, the person who is generating the relationship will
eventually get burned out and will need to stop. If the lopsided
relationship has been going on for too long, it may simply fall

Help for the "Type 1" Relationship
If you are the person taking up most of the emotional space,
stop. By taking up most of the space, you prevent your partner
from participating in the relationship. Stop taking up the space
by shifting your needs outside the relationship (not
infidelity). Instead of talking to your partner, talk to your
friends or family or to your journal. Instead of asking for many
needs to be met, ask for only some to be met, or for none to be
met for a period of time.

Create a vacuum so that your partner has something to step
into. It will feel strange and uncomfortable, but it is
necessary discomfort. If your partner does not participate in
the relationship, he or she may look for more connection

Get help in learning how to stop taking up so much emotional
space. Hire a good therapist or a relationship coach to work on
this. You may also need help as a couple in learning how to
share the emotional space and in teaching your partner how to
take up more space.

Type 2: Both partners alternate in how much emotional space
they occupy, with one person always taking up too much.

This type of relationship is a version of Type 1 above except
the couple is more intertwined and involved with each other.
This is a positive for the couple.

Yet often when the amount of emotional space partners take up
alternates, the amount of drama alternates as well, never
subsiding. A couple who frequently deals with drama gets
exhausted and burned out and never achieves the closeness and
connection they crave.

Help for the "Type 2" Relationship
Stop the drama. The key for both of you is to tone down all of
your emotions, needs, wants, upsets, etc. The second key is to
make sure your partner stays involved at all times.

These steps may sound simple, but in fact are difficult to do.
Get help from a coach or a therapist on how to stop the drama
and balance your relationship.

Type 3: Neither person in the relationship takes up much or any
emotional space.

This is a relationship where people reach a particular level
and stay there. They may enjoy each other's company, perhaps see
each other on a regular basis, and they may even be intimate.
They might have been together for a long time or may even be
living together or married. Yet they do not move deeper into
each other's emotional lives.

For some people this type of relationship is more than
satisfying, more than enough. For others, this kind of
relationship is only a satisfactory prelude to the real depth
any couple is capable of reaching together.

If you are in this type of relationship and it works for you,
great. But, if you are in this type of relationship and you want
more, here's a solution.

Help for the "Type 3" Relationship
If you are in a relationship where neither one of you takes up
too much emotional space, the two of you will eventually simply
drift away. If you want to keep the relationship, it's time to
both invest more and invite your partner to invest more as well.

But be careful not to cross over into a Type 1 relationship and
take up all of the emotional space. Do go slowly, perhaps begin
by sharing some small part of yourself that you have been
holding back. Be a bit more open, and bit more authentic in your
responses. Take small emotional risks and see if your partner
will follow.

Do be aware that your partner may not want to follow you into
deeper emotional waters -- some people are highly uncomfortable
being close. If this is the case, you will need to choose
whether you want to continue the relationship or not. You will
need to decide how emotionally close a relationship you
ultimately want to have with your life mate.

Type 4: Both people in the relationship take up enough
emotional space to feel connected and loved.

Obviously this is what a healthy relationship looks like. One
aspect of a healthy relationship is that both people can stay
involved emotionally and flow in the amount of space each one
takes at any given time. Some periods of time may be
predominantly about one person, while most of the time the
couple will stay fairly balanced. Neither partner will shut out
the other or be too far removed emotionally from the
relationship at any given time.

As in all other things, when it comes to relationships, balance
seems to be the key. Work on balancing the amount of emotional
space you take up in your relationship so that both of you get
the room you need to be yourself.

Your Relationship Coach,
Rinatta Paries

(c) Rinatta Paries. Do you know how to attract your ideal mate? Do you know how to build a fulfilling relationship, or how to reinvent yours to meet your needs? Relationship Coach Rinatta Paries can teach you the skills and techniques to attract and sustain long-term, healthy partnerships. Visit where you'll find quizzes, classes, advice and a free weekly ezine. Become a "true love magnet(tm)!"

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