The very base of a relationship is to connect two people together. But what if that foundation of unity is the same reason why relationships fail to thrive and succeed?

While we need to get close to connect, we also need to move away to create a balance. It isn’t always the lack of closeness that stifles desire, but too much closeness.

Studies have shown that if two people maintain a healthy dose of space between them, there lies eroticism; where two people are able to look at each other from a distance, and then step closer to meet. A bridge to cross and visit that special someone on the other side. If there is no space, there is no other to look at, to desire, to want, and to love. Differences between partners create mystery, one that allows for excitement, balance, and novelty.

Now, here comes the challenging part. How can you create, and better yet maintain, space and mystery in your years long relationship? Maybe you have kids, or hard and stressful jobs. Maybe you live in a chaotic and neurotic city that can be emotionally draining.

How do you keep the fire burning?
Cultivate your own interests, make plans with other people, and look into becoming more independent and autonomous. All these activities tend to both gain and regain a sense of self.  Have your own set of friends. See the movies you want to see and go to the places you want to go to. “Me” time is just as important, in order for a relationship to thrive, as time spent together. In none of these situations are you a caretaker, the perfect anti-aphrodisiac. For these few moments, you become less familiar and again mysterious. You are a stranger from a safe and healthy distance.

Flourishing your autonomy will not only make both partners interesting, but it will also give them things to discover about each other, over and over again.

What happens if your partner becomes threatened from space?
Through therapy, clients come to understand how important open communication is. Asking what the other is worried about, as well as reassuring them, is always the key. Discovery and exploration rely on a good dose of trust. One of the most common mistakes one can easily make is to ask their partner to forego their freedom in order to ensure a sense of security. It may seem like a solution, but does that solve the issue or remove the fear behind it?

Is there a risk in allowing each other too much space?
Fusion is a fake notion of security. It’s one style of attachment, and an insecure one. The risk remains there regardless if this person is too close or not. In therapy, I have found that partners may end up feeling suffocated by being too close. Suffocation does not only put an end to desire, but it also puts an end to the relationship, especially in the long run. As human beings, we tend to rebel from any system that we feel forced into, therefore, when both partners have easy movement and a ground base of trust, they will remain in the relationship willingly. It’s worth pointing out that despite any level of mystery and trust, there will always be danger in relationships. Dangers of emotionally or physically abusing such freedom, or maybe barely even noticing the partner, are both examples. This is where trust, open communication, and choice come into play.

There is no need for extremism here, or black and white. Eventually, it’s a paradoxical balance to manage. Too much closeness may be a problem, but too much distance is as well.

Through a small choice like this, both partners can seek to strike a balance in the relationship, by being both separate entities yet very much together.