Spending Too Much Time Together Can Actually Ruin Your Relationship
Falling in love, for many people, means that you’ve found somebody to spend your life with —your “other half,” if you will. While for some, falling in love and being in a relationship gives you the comfort of never having to be alone, for others, it begins a cycle of unhealthy emotional attachments and dependencies, without them even noticing.
Think about your significant other and how often you see them. Spending too much time with your partner is an actual recipe for disaster. Ideally, you want to find someone you love enough to be around all of the time — but not actually be around all of the time. According to Teresa Newsome, a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, couples early on tend to think spending a lot of time together will bring them closer, but in reality, it creates an unhealthy codependency. These types of relationships, she says, “cause you to lose sight of yourself and to put way too much of your identity into your relationship. They lead to low self-esteem, poor decision making, giving up your goals, and even enabling.”
So, how do you know you’re spending too much time with your significant other and, how can you balance your relationship and your independence so you don’t lose sight of your life?
Do Your Own Thing
Being in a serious relationship with someone does usually mean giving up some of your independence — you’ll want to include them in some decisions, let them know when you’ll be away/staying late at work/busy. But, you don’t need to do everything with them and run everything by them. It’s actually better off to have some things that are just for you. Many couples think that including their partner in all their normal hobbies and routines is health and important for combining their lives, but, I’m here to tell you otherwise. While going for a run together can seem cute and sweet, you need your you time — especially to do the things you love to do.
I’ve been in a relationship for just about three years and we live together. While that may seem like we’re always together 24/7, we’re not. When my partner and I get home from work every day, we take an hour or so to unwind by ourselves, in separate rooms. He’ll watch something on TV, read the paper, or even catch up with friends. I’ll watch a trashy show I know he hates, or read a book for a while — things we love to do independently. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to see my significant other when I get home from work and spend time with him, I just want to have my own space, as well. And, we’re better off for it.
Make Your Own Friends
One of the biggest life lessons my mother taught me from a very young age was “never lose your girlfriends for a guy.” While someone may seem like the end-all, be-all love of your life — they should never replace your friends. It’s important to maintain friendships and relationships outside of your romantic one. You can’t get all of your social happiness and fulfillment from one person. In fact, that’s what leads to unhealthy codependency right there — only relying on your significant other for everything. It may be hard for you to find time to see your friends with many obligations you have on your plate, but, there are ways to balance everything in your life for a healthy playing field.
Instead of planning to spend every weekend with your partner, find two weekends a month to see your friends. And, even try to grab drinks at a happy hour after work with co-workers, or grab a quick bite with a friend before you head home. Socializing with people outside of your relationship not only gives you a clear head and new perspective, but it also takes the pressure off of your partner and yourself to always entertain each other. Eventually, you will run out of things to talk about and that’s just awkward for everyone.
Keep Your Own Friends
It may be cute to have little pet names and “couple ships” in your relationship, but you should never reach the point where two become one — literally. I know a lot of people who won’t go anywhere without their significant other and, because of this, we stopped inviting them out. It gets pretty annoying that every time we would grab “drinks with the girls,” our friend was offended we didn’t invite her boyfriend. You and your partner are two different people. Maintaining your independence is not only about keeping up with hobbies and interests you find important, but, it’s also about having a life outside of your partner.
Spending too much time together creates a false sense of “needing” to invite them everywhere and bring them to everything. You don’t want to be the person that never leaves her partner home, or who cannot function without them.
Don’t Rush Your Process.
Being comfortable with your partner is an important factor in making relationships successful, but, at what speed? The beginning of a relationship should be a learning experience for you both — learning your ins and outs and how you need to treat each other. Spending too much time together too soon blurs the line of boundaries that should be intact in the beginning. Therefore, couples tend to get too comfortable too soon, which leads to a plethora of issues — one of them being that couples force emotional intimacy.
In reality, we don’t fall in love overnight. It takes a while to get to know someone — truly get to know them — for us to fall for them. Sure, we get butterflies and are infatuated with people in the very beginning, but falling in love with someone takes time. However, when we spend almost every waking moment of our lives together, we start to feel as though time has gone by — even when it hasn’t. According to Seth Meyers, Psy.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist, TV guest expert, author, and relationship expert:
If you meet someone you like and spend several nights together in the first week, or spend multiple hours with them over the course of several days, you can start to feel a sense of intense emotional closeness. But when you stop to think about it, does it make sense to feel so emotionally close to someone you’ve just met? The problem with this dynamic is that seeing each other too frequently at the very beginning forges an illusion of intimacy and dependence, even though each person does know that it takes months — or even years — to truly get to know someone.
While fostering emotional intimacy in a relationship is important, it’s better to do so gradually than putting it out there all at once. Doing so can truly lead to saying “I love you,” before you mean it, and even pushing sexual intimacy before you’re ready. Take time to get to know each other — really get to know each other — for your relationship to last.
Keep Your Values.
The biggest problem with spending too much time with an S/O is that many individuals forget how to function alone. Combining your life with someone else and creating codependency truly begins to alter how you live your life in the day-to-day. You don’t know how to function without texting them all of the time when you’re apart or planning to do literally everything together. In reality, you start to overlook red flags and problems in your relationship — even things about your significant other that you don’t like.
Spending time apart gives you a clear head and new perspective on life. When you’re constantly with the same person all of the time, you’re surrounded by the same opinion, perspective, and outlook on everything. When you’re alone, or even with friends and family, you gain a new set of outlooks and opinions. For some, this helps to gain a “bigger picture” outlook and see things more clearly.
Think of spending too much time with the same person as your mind being trapped in a box. You aren’t given any room to breathe, grow, or experience new things because you’re suffocated in one, enclosed space. And, the walls of the box make it hard to see things fully. You don’t realize how many red flags there truly are, because you don’t have your own life anymore.
How much time is the right amount of time?
Finding the right balance in a relationship — especially in the beginning — may be hard for many. And, no couple is exactly the same. According to Theresa E. DiDonato, Ph.D., a social psychologist and associate professor at Loyola University Maryland says, “In walking the tight rope between the demands of one’s work, family, and friends, and what the new relationship needs, engaging in self-care is equally important.”
DiDonato points out that finding the right balance in a relationship is about communication — not only with your partner but with yourself and your friends and family. If someone is communicating to you that they need space — give them space without getting offended. If your friends and family are complaining that they never see you anymore, make time for them. If you feel as though you haven’t gotten a chance or time to do things you love to do, make it known to your partner.
Boundaries in relationships are not toxic, they’re actually healthy and important in keeping a relationship strong and successful. No matter how much you love someone, they’re never worth losing you over.