Originally posted on Bustle
Whether it’s going on dates, on vacation, or just relaxing, one of the nicest parts about being in a relationship is spending time with your partner. It’s great having someone to make life a little more interesting, even if all you’re doing is going to the grocery store. But if you’re in a relationship, especially a long-term relationship, you need to make sure that all that time together doesn’t affect who you are as a person, at least too much. “Long-term relationships will change you — either for better or for worse,” Jianny Adamo, Counselor and Certified Relationship Coach at Fearless Love, tells Bustle. “Love has the power to transform us, so hopefully we have chosen well and picked a partner that can grow with us.”
Though it may be tempting to spend all your time with your partner, especially at first, you don’t want to change your lifestyle completely. The key is to keep enough of your own separate lives, so be wary of spending too much time together. But sometimes, especially if you’re a close couple, your co-dependence can sneak up on both of you without you even realizing. Here’s what you need to keep an eye out for, because alone time is so important.
1. You Only Look For Activities You Can Do As A Couple
If you find yourself shying away from flying solo, you really need to think about why. Some people start only traveling as a pair once their coupled up, but then you miss out on important friend time. Hanging out with them as a couple just isn’t the same. “Friends help you realistically look at things; they help you see things for what they really are,” Janna Koretz, Psy.D., licensed psychologist, tells Bustle. “Having someone who can be an outside perspective to help you make good decisions will benefit your relationship.”
And, you know, you might not be the only one who needs that. “It’s possible that [your partner also wants to see their friends more], but might not know how to say it either,” Koretz says. “There won’t always be a fallout or brush back. Just be honest. Say ‘I miss these people. Spending time with them might impact how often I see you, but it’s really important to me.’ It doesn’t have to be dramatic thing.”
2. Your Friends Are Annoyed At You
Even if you have noticed you’re not hanging out with your friends as much, chances are they have. Maybe your friends are annoyed are you — or maybe they’ve just stopped trying completely. As much as they might like your partner, they’re your friends, and they probably want some time with just you. “It’s very important to have independence in a relationship,” Mara Opperman, relationship etiquette expert, co-founder of I Do Now I Don’t, and Director of Communications and Client Relations at DEL GATTO, tells Bustle. “Successful, healthy relationships allow for the both people to form a bond which lets them to not only grow together but also to grow independently as people.”
3. You’re Running Out Of Things To Talk About
You’d think that spending all of your time together would mean you have lots in common — but it also makes you complacent. “It takes work to keep the romance alive and the couple has to make a conscious decision to put this work in,” Ravid Yosef, dating and relationship coach at LoveLifeTBD.com, tells Bustle. But sometimes, when you spend too much time together it’s easy to forget to do the work. You think that just being in the same room is enough, even if there’s no spark or connection anymore. Plus, if you’re always together, it’s easy to run out of things to talk about it. When you’re both there for everything, there’s nothing to fill each other in on.
4. Your Spark Is Fading
Spending a lot of time together can mean that you get into a rut. And spending time away from each other doing things you love — and seeing people you love — can actually put some of that spark back, because it puts you into a better headspace. “Just from a self-care perspective, being around people you enjoy and who understand you is going to improve your quality of life and your mood,” Koretz says. “…You’ll then be more eager to have sex and be more open to intimacy and exploring new things.”
5. You’re Getting Clingy
It’s kind of ironic, because we associate clinginess as being in response to someone being distant, but actually sometimes it more of a cycle— the more time you spend together, the clingier you become. “Clinginess, or being overly needy, is one of the great relationship-killers nobody really pays attention to until it’s too late,” dating expert Noah Van Hochman tells Bustle. “This could entail calling person numerous times a day for no other reason other than to ask where they are. Not being able to make simple decisions without first asking your partner is another sign of being too needy.” The more you get used to them being there, the more you can want it. Take a break and remember you should be able to survive on your own.
6. You Get Jealous
Similarly, if we spend a lot of time with our partners then that neediness can make us fiercely jealous when we’re not around each other. Now, there’s a normal level of jealousy that we all feel from time to time — but if you just can’t deal with them hanging out with other people, that’s a problem. “We all experience jealousy at some point; the key to keeping things healthy is being able to identify the feeling and not allow it to control behavior,” marriage and family therapist and relationship expert Esther Boykin tells Bustle. If you freak out every time they’re not by your side, you might be spending too much time together.
7. You’re Losing Sight Of Your Goals
Maybe you didn’t even notice it, but suddenly you’re not working on your novel anymore or running that marathon. Maybe your career has taken a backseat. It might not be obvious that it’s anything to do with your partner, because it wasn’t exactly the relationship’s fault. But if we view ourselves too much as part of a pair, we can stop thinking about our personal goals. “When it comes to your careers, you may have very different paths,” Sarah Patt, matchmaker and dating expert, tells Bustle. “That’s OK, but it is important to discuss how you plan to fit your career into your future.” But if you’re always thinking as a pair and lose sight of what you want as an individual, then your needs may not be brought to the table. Relationships should involve negotiations and that’s fine — so don’t let the relationship drain away your ambition.
There’s no ‘right’ amount of time to spend together— some couples are more independent than others and that’s totally OK. But you need to make sure that you’re keeping independence intact. It’s better for you and for your relationship.