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'How do I tell my family members that I need personal space kahit nasa bahay lang kami?'

Q: "Ever since the start of the pandemic, my family members and I have all been stuck at home. We used to work in offices and study in schools, but now, sa bahay lang talaga kami. It's great that we get to spend more time with each other, but sa totoo lang, I find it difficult to establish personal space from them. How do I deal with this?"

One way or another, the pandemic has greatly affected our relationships with the people around us—family members included. Some may say that being at home for a long time has brought them closer to their loved ones. A Pinay from our Cosmo Community even shared, "Before the pandemic, we were busy with our own lives. Too busy to even share meals nang sabay sabay or magkamustahan. Nung nag-lockdown, we bonded over food, Netflix, etc. Nawala yung 'init ng ulo' or 'ikli ng pasensya' as we understood each other better."

And although this is great, the sad reality is that it doesn't always apply to everyone. There are some Pinoy households that struggle with maintaining good relationships among family members. In fact, one of the most common concerns right now is the lack of one's privacy at home. Given that everybody is under one roof, how exactly do you ask for personal space? 

Cosmopolitan reached out to family psychologist Dr. Michele Alignay for advice on how to approach this situation. Keep reading to know more.     

Here are some things you should know if you want to open up about needing personal space from your family members.

First of all, it's totally normal to feel this way. 

According to Dr. Michele, "We are all craving our own, personal space." Because we've been at home for so long, she says that many of us are feeling stuck already. As a result, family frictions tend to rise. "The issues that are not dealt with pre-pandemic are actually manifesting now. This pandemic, many families have those issues at ang pinaka-critical, they feel that they lack emotional space, which is very true for many of us." 

"Filipino families tend to be not too keen on boundaries."

Opening up about needing personal space is actually a tricky situation, especially for Pinoy families, Dr. Alignay tells Cosmopolitan. "Sometimes, we have a tendency that our identities are overlapping in the family," she explained. 

If you're very comfortable or very open to your family members, it won't be difficult to approach them and ask for personal space. The crucial part is when you're not close with the people you live with. Dr. Alignay admitted, "Puwedeng [magkasama] sa bahay, puwedeng pamilya, but emotionally, we're not connected with them."

Declare that you need space.

When you bring up the topic about needing personal space, Dr. Alignay suggested to skip, or avoid using the word "space" in general. Instead, you can start by saying, "I need this corner, and I would really appreciate it if you give it to me because I need to focus on work during these hours." She added, "You have to put that boundary without explaining too much of what you're going through."

Spend more time with your family and try to get to know them.

In the future, when you ask for your personal time to focus on whatever you need to do, your family will no longer have the need to bug you anymore because you've spent some time with them. Dr. Alignay pointed out, "You've given them something, and in return, you [can] have that space, that time, in your own psychological bubble."

Watch the video to know more.

Dr. Michele Alignay is a family psychologist, speaker, and author. She has an expertise in family life and personal growth and helps Filipino families nurture their relationships and well-being. You can check out her website and follow her on Facebook and Instagram. You can also follow her livestream, Coffee Break with Dr. Michele, via Facebook, YouTube, and Spotify.

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