My precious?
January 30, 2019 5:37 PM   Subscribe

I found a hobby/class I like in a new city, where I have the possible opportunity to stick with and make friends. My partner wants to tag along (because he is also interested in this class.) Is it wrong that I would rather him try another class because I would like to have my own hobby time?

We are in a new city, a college town actually, so not a very big town at all. My partner is in graduate school, so he has a plethora of student activities and graduate school classmates and friends he has available to him. I am not able to do these student activities (I tried, some are just open to enrolled students) and I am trying hard to make my own friends outside of his graduate school group. I'm working in another town, so I have to try extra hard to make friends. I remember being in graduate school and it was nice in that I had built in friends and activities.

In my search for something to do in my city after work where I could meet other folx and also find a hobby, I found a workshop across our apartment. I went once by myself and really enjoyed it. I find it easier to socialize with new people on my own rather than with my partner there because we often just stick to each other and chat with each other if we're together. Being by myself forces me to be chatty. My partner and I also do a lot of things together, which I enjoy, but I also like my independence.

My partner has his own hobbies that I don't regularly participate in, but will join occasionally, but we like being able to do our own things. I haven't found my "thing" in this town yet. I don't really have consistent hobbies like he does, but in our old city, I had my own group of friends (from before our relationship) that I would hang out with on my own, so I got a good amount of solo time. With being in this new city for 3 months, I haven't really been pushing myself as much to try things out until now.

I mentioned how much I liked this workshop to my partner and expressed that I'd like to continue and make it a hobby. He is also interested in this activity and said he would like to join. Of course, I would usually be very happy for him to join, but this time I feel a little protective of my little workshop. It was a space where I could be by myself, try this new thing, and meet new people. It's not like I can't meet new people and do these things with my partner there (because we still do that) but I just wanted one little hobby and class for myself. I feel like he might have a similar workshop for graduate students on campus, but he hasn't checked.

I feel extremely selfish for feeling this protective over a workshop I'm trying to attend regularly. It's a small class. And it's not like there's anything wrong with my partner! He's great! I just don't know, I socialize differently when I'm alone. Even when I have a friend or family member with me, I feel a need to make sure they're having a good time, or wonder if they're feeling left out, or I will lean on them because I don't feel like talking to strangers. So being by myself feels good sometimes when trying to meet new people. Does that make sense?

otherwise, am I being over the top with feeling this way over a new hobby? If so, how do I get over these protective feelings? If not, how do I kindly word it to my partner that I still love them and want to hang out with them but I want some me-time even though I know they would like this hobby as well? That's the part I feel bad about. I think they would enjoy the hobby too. But I wish there were just two different times for this workshop...
posted by socky bottoms to Human Relations (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don’t think you’re over the top! It might be hard for your partner to hear, and you should be kind about it, but it’s ok to tell him you’d really like to have a thing that’s just yours and to ask him to let you have that.
posted by mskyle at 5:40 PM on January 30, 2019 [14 favorites]

It’s totally normal and understandable to want to have a life outside of your partner. Unless this is a one time only workshop, there’s always a chance for partner to participate later. I’d say something along the lines of “Hey, I’d like to check this out by myself, get a little ‘me Time.’”
posted by Pretty Good Talker at 5:43 PM on January 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I think it is totally okay to state that you have a need for me-time! Your partner could take the workshop the next time it rolls around, he could take one on his campus, he can get into it on his own with YouTube tutorials, there are a lot of ways he can still engage in the activity, I bet. Even super smushy lovey togethery couples need to have things that are separate to them - if there's no separation, we feel resentful and overwhelmed. It's not selfish to want this -- it's part of the human condition! I love my wife beyond all reason but I NEED my time to poke around with my little hobbies and paints and journaling, and no, I do not like her right beside me while I'm doing those things.

You are just a human like everyone else and right now your authentic need is to have time to yourself with this hobby. That is an entirely valid and okay thing to want and you can express that need. Your partner gets to choose how he responds to that, and I hope that he responds with understanding and love.

Good luck!
posted by fairlynearlyready at 5:44 PM on January 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

I find it easier to socialize with new people on my own rather than with my partner there because we often just stick to each other and chat with each other if we're together. Being by myself forces me to be chatty.

I think this is a reasonable start to a conversation w your partner. Maybe you could go at first by yourself, and partner could start coming later - assuming that once you know the other people at the workshop, you'll be less likely to focus solely on partner. But if you want it to still be "yours" I think that's fine too.
posted by bunderful at 5:46 PM on January 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

It seems he has lots of uncoupled sociable work time and solor or coupled social activities tied to school and you have nothing solo yet, except for maybe this?

You’re fine to want/ask for this to be yours, also you can ask/tell him to seek out more shared activities if he wants them.

I do wonder a bit about things you’re not saying: what types of activities, where in the world you are; how long you’ve been together; what was the agreement and understanding when you moved together, what types of commitment you have made to each other, etc. These questions and answers may be worth thinking about and discussing as you go forward. Good luck! Grad school can be tough on relationships but I can tell you it can work.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:51 PM on January 30, 2019

Are you into someone in the class in a crush/romantic way? Be honest with yourself. If not, whatever. You shouldn’t feel guilty for needing space. If you are into someone in the class, this is maybe reflective of a bigger problem.

Nothing about this indicates that you are interested in someone in the class, just to be clear! I’m just saying that’s basically the only scenario in which I would think this is an issue.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:20 PM on January 30, 2019

I honestly would not be able to tell my SO to his face "please don't go to this class so I can meet people without you." I just think it's too hurtful and I would try to suck it up if someone said it to me but would secretly be really hurt if I heard that directed at myself. (Actually, yeah, in a similar situation I was very butthurt.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:57 PM on January 30, 2019

How about you tell your SO what you said here and maybe after enough time has elapsed and you have made your friends where you socialize outside of “hobby” time, your SO can join then?
posted by murrey at 7:03 PM on January 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

"I love spending time with you, of course, but I think it would also be good for me to have my own "thing" in the way that you have grad school and the activities there. I'd like to expand social activities so that I don't get too lonely with you involved with school, and this workshop seems like a good way to do that. However, it's a easier for me to meet new people if I go to it alone."

I think if you say something like that, it won't be too hurtful.
posted by bearette at 7:04 PM on January 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

I think you can say "I need a thing to be just my thing, outside of our coupledom" is easier to hear than "I do better meeting people without you." (Although both can be equally true and neither is bad or anyone's fault! It's fine! It's just kind of hard to hear the second one, potentially.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:08 PM on January 30, 2019 [10 favorites]

I may be an outlier, but I think it’s kind of weird that your partner isn’t already sensitive to the fact that you need to build your own new life in the town you evidently moved to for his career. That’s an entirely normal and predictable thing to need, and if my partner had moved with me for my career I think those needs would be very much on my mind because, you know, they moved for me.

So. I’m actually sort of side-eying the fact that he’s trying to jump in on the first thing you’ve found for yourself when you obviously don’t have access to the social resources that he does through the school. Like I would maybe not feel very seen.

I would see nothing wrong with a partner explaining this to me the way you’ve explained it here, and I think if I were in his shoes I would actually feel kind of bad about my insensitivity. Like I would feel bad, but not because you want something for yourself; I’d feel bad because I’d been kinda selfish.
posted by schadenfrau at 7:27 PM on January 30, 2019 [14 favorites]

Thank you all for your advice! I talked to my partner, and initially I blurted that I wanted to make friends on my own and have my own thing without him (which hurt him a little bit) while on the phone and he brought it up. but then after reading these answers, I followed up with more explanation and basically said what I wrote in my question and he totally understood. He may try it out after I’ve gone a few times on my own and established some connections alone. He even suggested himself finding his own group on campus! (It is a writing workshop btw.)

And no, no crushes for me here. But I went to the workshop again tonight and connected with the group well and shared my writing, which made me feel a lot better. Thanks everyone. I think I over-thunked it.
posted by socky bottoms at 7:39 PM on January 30, 2019 [28 favorites]

I think the way you expressed it in your question was very clear and relatable. I'd be disappointed in him if behaved negatively.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:40 PM on January 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

For the record, it’s extremely common to avoid having significant others in a writing workshop for about a million reasons. It makes people self-conscious and changes the dynamic for everyone. Some groups even ban them outright.

Good luck!
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 3:32 AM on January 31, 2019 [18 favorites]

I came in to say what Rock 'em Sock 'em just did. As someone who's been in both professional and amateur writing workshop situations, I would strongly STRONGLY advise against crossing the streams here. Even if you and your partner end up being able to work well together on your own time, I would not recommend the two of you participating in a group with other people, ESPECIALLY people who aren't already good friends to both of you. Feel free to blame we internet strangers while asking him to find his own group.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:45 AM on January 31, 2019 [3 favorites]

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