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What are you looking for?

Need more privacy? Just ask.

It’s not always easy getting privacy at home. Life is busy, and most of us share our homes with family, friends and partners - all of whom have their own needs and wants.

It might go something like this: you’d like some quiet time on the sofa with a book, but your partner would rather chit-chat over a cup of tea. Or, you’ve been looking forward to a practice session on your violin, but your napping flatmate might not thank you for it.

The question is:

If we live in close quarters with others, how do we make sure our need for private time is met?

The answer is:

Ask for it. Our Life at Home Report 2019 shows that one of the main barriers to privacy is the fear of insulting, hurting or alienating people we live with by saying ‘I need space’.

In fact, 12% of all those we surveyed said they didn’t feel they had the right to ask for privacy at home. But equally the research shows that when we don’t get enough breathing space, our wellbeing takes a hit.

Here are a few tips for asking for more private time without causing a rift:

  1. Remember, the people you live with aren’t mind-readers. Chances are if you simply ask for 30 minutes to yourself, it will be given without much to-do.
  2. Come up with non-verbal cues that mean ‘do not disturb’ – in a nice way. This can be anything from tying a ribbon on the doorknob to getting a mobile room divider. The important thing is that they are discussed beforehand, so everybody knows what they mean.
  3. Before the week starts, sit down with your partner or flatmates and talk about what you each want in terms of private time (whatever that means to you), and then treat it like anything else: schedule it in. With a bit of planning, you can work around each other and have something to look forward to.
  4. Avoid slamming doors. If you feel anxious or upset about a lack of privacy, it’s time to sit down and talk. Make a plan for how to share space so that everyone wins.