How much emotional space do you take up in your relationship? Could the amount of emotional space you and your partner take up in the relationship have anything to do with whether your relationship makes it or not? Indeed it does. Definition of "emotional space": time and energy spent dealing with or listening to a person's emotions, words, thoughts, wants, needs, etc.
In terms of the emotional-space dynamic, there are three types of couples:
Type 1 emotional space dynamic: One person in the relationship takes up most of the emotional space.
This is the type of relationship in which one partner seems to be super-involved, expressing most of the feelings and needs in the relationship. This person may seem extreme, emotional, needy, intense, possessive, etc. The other partner in the relationship will seem to be hardly involved and will appear to have hardly any needs at all. The partner that seems super-involved is often filling up emotional space in the relationship, frequently out of fear that there will not be a relationship if the emotional space is not filled up.
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 or putting into the relationship, and the other will be unhappy because he or she seemingly can't get a break from the drama.
What's more, the person who is taking up the emotional space in 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 apart, because the partners will not be able to shift gears into sharing emotional space.
Type 2 emotional-space dynamic: Both people alternate in how much emotional space they take up, with one of them always taking up too much.
This type of relationship is a version of Type 1 above, except that the couple is more intertwined and involved with each other. This is a positive for the couple but it also makes them more volatile.
In this relationship, one person is always overbearing and the other person is always under-involved. The two of them spend most of the time dealing with each other's reactions and have little time or energy left for anything else.
These couples get exhausted and burned out and never get the closeness and connection they crave. They may end up being the couple who say, "I love you but can't live with you" to each other and get away from each other to simply reduce the drama.
Type 3 emotional-space dynamic: Neither person in the relationship takes up much or any emotional space.
This is a relationship in which people reach a minimum level of intimacy and stay there. They may enjoy each other's company, perhaps see each other on a regular basis, may even be intimate. They may have been together for a long time, or may even be living together or be 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 that enough. For others, it is only a satisfactory prelude to the real depth couples are 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, read the solution section below.
Type 4 emotional-space dynamic: 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 with the amount of space each one takes up 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 emotionally removed from the relationship at any given time.
What to do if you are in a type 1, 2 or 3 relationships (see above):
Help for 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. This means you stop trying to create the connection, stop trying to create spending time together, stop trying to be the center of attention. Step off the relationship stage for a bit and let the stage be empty. It will feel strange and uncomfortable, but it is necessary discomfort. If you will not give your partner the room to participate in the relationship, he or she may look for more connection elsewhere.
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 or step up more in the relationship.
Help for Type 2 relationship
Stop the drama. The key for both of you is to tone down a bit all of your emotions, needs, wants, upsets, etc. The two of you must learn to soothe and balance yourselves emotionally, so that no matter what happens, your reactions are minimal. The two of you must learn that you are adults and are OK no matter what.
If you stop having reactions or tone yours down and your partner continues his or hers, let him or her go on with this for a while. There maybe a time adjustment during which the two of you don't quite know what to do in your relationship.
The key is to learn to relate to each other in a more subtle, loving and calm way.
This may sound simple, but in fact it is difficult to do. Get help from a coach or a therapist on how to stop the drama and balance your relationship.
Help for Type 3 relationship
If you are in a relationship in which neither one of you takes up too much emotional space or gives too much emotionally, the two of you will eventually drift apart. If you want to keep the relationship, it's time to invest more of yourself in it and invite your partner to invest more as well.
But do not cross over into Type 1 relationship and take up all of the emotional space. Do go slowly; perhaps begin by sharing some small part of yourself you have been holding back. Be a bit more open and a 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.
Here's what you want to shoot for in your relationship in terms of healthy emotional behavior and space:
o You and your partner can be yourselves with each other and appreciate each other's quirks.
o You and your partner always ask each other the things you want to know.
o You can bring up any subject, including the relationship, and your partner will talk to you
about it - maybe not gladly, but your partner will talk to you and try to resolve whatever issues you bring up. Sometimes your partner brings up issues.
o You and your partner can ask for what you need from each other. This doesn't mean either one of you always gets your way, but you can ask and be heard.
o Your partner knows you. You feel seen and appreciated.
o You know your partner. He feels seen and appreciated.
o You love and adore each other.
o You are still hot for each other.
o You can give each other space and time to do things without each other.
As in all things, when it comes to emotional space in relationships, balance the key. Work on balancing the amount of emotional space your take up in your relationship by working on being emotionally mature, so that both of you get to be yourself and be happy together.
© 2007 Love Coach Rinatta Paries. All rights reserved.
Love Coach Rinatta Paries is an internationally known dating, relationship and marriage expert, coach and author who helps men and women find or fix their loving relationship. Rinatta?s blog is a comprehensive resource with free articles and valuable relationship tools for men and women who want to attract or create a deeply loving relationship. Visit her blog at www.LoveCoachBlog.com or for her help in your relationship contact her at 888-215-6033