A space cushion is a fender that you maintain around your vehicle when driving to allow room for action, if necessary. Being constantly aware of what is in your space cushion helps in keeping you and others safe on the road. The recommended distance that you should keep while following the car in front is at least a three-second and four or five seconds in bad weather. This concept is recommended in relationships too. It is what is known as “Personal Space”. This is your safe space. Every relationship, whether with family members, colleagues, friends and lovers, is a balancing act. Personal space is a crutial part of every relationship. This space can be between the different personalities, between different wants and needs, and between spending time together and giving yourselves time apart. Most of the time we think that by spending time with others, it gets us closer and strengthens bonds. This may be partly true right before the saying, “familiarity breeds contempt” becomes a reality.
A story is told of a family of hedgehogs or were they porcupines? it does not really matter because both animals have sharp spikes. Anywho!! One day, the weather temperatures dipped to an uncomfortable level. They decided that to keep warm and avoid dying of hypothermia, snuggling would be a great idea. As they came close to each other, the spikes on their bodies start to pierce their bodies. Eventually, the entire family was bleeding from everywhere. They quickly determined that it was better to get just close enough to keep warm but avoid getting poked by the spikes. They learnt about personal space the hard way.
Just like the space cushion when driving along the road, personal space is very necessary to avoid getting offended by others. This helps to maintain boundaries between people. It allows people time to take a breath from others. Many times we think that taking time away from others means we don’t love and want them any more. However, it is very healthy to be alone from time to time. This creates independence and helps the relationships to grow stronger. People sometimes end up loosing their individuality because they think that by being in a relationship means enmeshing with the others. They sacrifice their dreams and aspirations and concentrate fully on the needs of others. In the end they become bitter and may end up blaming others for actions and decisions. It is true, we have people who are controlling and try to manipulate others to be what they want them to be and do only what they want them to do. This may happen in any form of relationship. These controlling people will snoop into other people’s business demanding that others tell them everything about what they are thinking or doing and while this may look like “love”, it usually is a very unhealthy behavior. They will get into the personal space of others with an intention of robbing them of their independence of thought and actions. They usually will criticize all the time, blame others if things did not go as they expected, intimidate and even keep scores to name but a few.
When personal boundaries are brought down, the relationship turns toxic and will affect by large the quality of the relationship and the quality of life for those involved. It is good to avoid feeling suffocated by someone you love, whether romantically or otherwise. You don’t have to feel bad about wanting some alone time, it is completely natural and necessary for a healthy relationship. Having space doesn’t mean going on a break or ending things, it is just simply finding time in your day to focus on YOU; the you that is not a wife or husband, sister, brother, mother, father or friend. Just the you that you are by yourself. Never shy away from communicating the need to be alone for a little while. Communication is the key to a healthy relationship and once you are able to effectively put across your needs and desires, then you will find joy in being in any relationship. If you and your loved ones are pretty dependent on one another in your daily lives the suggestion for space may come as a big shock. Making sure to be cautious of their feelings when you ask for alone time may help avoid the feeling of rejection. There is nothing wrong with wanting alone time and in the end you will be a better, more attentive person in the long run because you have taken care of yourself so you then can take care of the needs of others.
On a lighter note, quarantine yourself for 2 weeks and take it as a part of “me time”. It will increase your chances of not contracting Coronavirus as well. And when you hear the song :geithia mundu umwire niumwendete, oya moko na iguru ugoshe Ngai”, kindly resist to shake the hands for now…..