What’s a healthy amount of time to spend with the person you’re dating? We all know those people who seem to dive headfirst into a new relationship, spending 24/7 with a new partner, but this sometimes comes at the expense of their other relationships. Meanwhile, other people feel like they have to fight their way on to their new partner’s schedule.
Where’s the balance? What is a healthy amount of time to spend with a significant other?
If 100 percent of the time is too much, and zero too little, let's try to figure out the sweet spot. Striking a balance is often harder than people might think: People are often strongly compelled to spend time with the new, exciting person in their lives. They crave opportunities to be in each other’s presence, and miss each other in their absence. This time together is healthy and necessary to cultivate a relationship and begin weaving two lives together.
But work and life demands often impose realistic limits on the amount of time new couples can spend together. From unexpected work obligations on the weekend to sudden business travel demands, one partner’s professional goals and ambitions can impose stress on a relationship if the other partner expects a different level of availability.
New couples must also navigate time spent together with time that is typically devoted to friends and family. When people are in relationships, their availability to pre-existing relationships change. For example, studies show that women who more quickly increase time spent with a romantic partner more quickly decrease the amount of time they spend with their best friend (Zimmer-Gembeck, 1999). When friends complain that they never see you anymore, and your family wonders where you’ve been, the tricky nature of finding a balance becomes readily apparent.
Time spent alone can also be important for individuals in new relationships, though, and this alone time is just as valid as other needs. People benefit from time to reflect on their new relationship and time engaged in activities they love to do by themselves. 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.
The goal, of course, is to find a balance in which both members of the couple are happy with the time they spend together, maintain their outside friendships and family relationships, make progress towards their professional goals, and give the relationship a chance to flourish. That’s a lot to balance. Here are a few tips to help:
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