First things first: Learn to value your independence
A lot of people get into new relationships and slide into a routine of spending every single waking moment together as a couple.
This is crap. It is not normal or healthy to devote all your free time to your partner. No relationship should cost you your friendships, hobbies, or interests. One that does is serious cause for concern. In addition to the codependency created by being together all the time, gorging yourself on too much hot passion early on can cause things to fizzle. Fast.
Instead, let this person know you value your independence and actually enjoy spending some time by yourself. Be clear that you are a busy lady/gentleman with a flourishing social calendar and intense work schedule -- and that sometimes, you just need to be alone to regroup a bit.
It's fabulous that this person likes you so much. You deserve to be treated like a queen/king! But someone with endless free time who wraps their world around you in a matter of weeks? That should sound some alarms. And if your partner can't back off so you have some breathing room, you may want to reassess the relationship.
Don't drop hints. Be direct.
When someone you're not interested in acts clingy, you can usually just distance yourself until they go away. No problem.
But if we're talking about someone you really like, you're not going to ghost them. And if you're smart, you're not going to play out some passive-aggressive crap or go for days without texting back in order to send a message. This will not work! You will end up in an awkward fight that you then have to talk your way out of.
And MORE talking isn't the goal, right?
The key to dealing with this whole shebang is handling it before you feel like you're suffocating. All you need to do is be exceptionally clear. Have a real, sit-down conversation and explain what's going on inside your head. Get right to the point: You really like this person, you love spending time together, and you need some you time, as well.
Say it's important that you have together time AND alone time.
This isn't unreasonable. Having a life outside of your relationship is the way to go -- and establishing boundaries upfront will prevent hurt feelings later on. Your new boo is a cool person! They're totally going to understand.
Approach the situation with empathy, not rejection
Of course, coming directly at a situation can occasionally come off as harsh. We are all pretty vulnerable in those first tenuous months of dating: unsure of what is going on or where this all will lead. Any form of "I need space" can feel like the end.
After all, you're basically saying "I want to spend less time with you."
But the goal isn't to make your new love feel rejected! It's important to be mindful of how you're broaching such a delicate topic. Instead of making the conversation about you (which it is, but whatever), make it about the TWO of you.
Say you think the best relationships are forged from two independent people with their own lives in addition to the life they share. Make it clear that you see this going somewhere serious; and the last thing you want to do is screw it up before it has a chance to mature.
See, doesn't that sound docile? We like docile in these situations.
Needing time for yourself doesn't mean you don't like the person you're dating
Last but not least, let's talk about guilt. It's the thing that stops us from having these critical conversations, and forces us to wallow in a shameful puddle of sadness and suffocation.
Wanting space does NOT mean you don't like this person! There is nothing to feel guilty about here. This is you, making it work with someone you really like.
Having your own life doesn't mean you're not relationship material. Quite the contrary! Being self-sufficient gives you the stability a healthy relationship requires.
There is no reason to freak out and convince yourself that your feelings are lukewarm because you'd rather watch an episode of Homeland than hang out with your new girlfriend tonight.
At the end of the day, you're still you. And any relationship you're in should complement your life -- and your independence.