- Well-being is a function of both relationship status and quality.
- A low-quality or even "neutral" relationship may yield a lower amount of well-being than being single.
- Seeking to socialize as a single may indicate the need for a breather, temporarily or permanently.
You may have heard couples being described as inseparable. That is rarely true. The sentiment indicates a desire to spend time together, which is always a blessing. But that doesn’t mean spending every minute together, and it depends on the quality of time. So how do you determine how much is too much?
The biggest sign that you might be spending too much time with your partner is that you are asking yourself the question. In seeking an answer, research reveals some factors to consider.
Quality Over Quantity
Nathan W. Hudson et al. (2020) investigated the link between spending time with a partner and levels of well-being.[i] They note that prior research indicates well-being is a function of both relationship status and quality. In their own study, they found that being in a romantic relationship, partner interaction, and a greater investment of time into the relationship all predicted a higher level of well-being. However, these effects were moderated by relationship quality, as they found couples that interacted within what they described as “relatively neutral relationships” experienced a lower amount of well-being than people who were unpartnered.
When You Need a Breather
Sometimes, wanting a break from your partner often has nothing to do with him or her. You may simply need some time alone to recharge. Many couples learned this during the pandemic when they were quarantined together. There is no shame in seeking solitude; the more important question is why you feel that you need a break. Here are a few signs to consider:
- Craving Home Alone. Not the movie, the experience. If you are looking for excuses to take a break from couple time to hibernate and rejuvenate, you may need to do just that. True, this does not always mean you need a break from your partner; it could just mean you need a break from the world. But either way, a solo retreat may help you put the feeling into perspective.
- Irritability. If you feel frustrated, anxious, or unsettled, there can be a tendency to blame it on your partner because he/she is the closest target. But there are many hormonal, circumstantial, or emotional causes of feeling irritable that have nothing to do with your significant other. Nonetheless, taking a break to pray, relax, or exercise can provide mental clarity, and often improve feelings of irritability regardless of the cause.
- Seeking to Socialize as a Single. Many people want to broaden their circle of contacts, spend more time with family, reconnect with old friends, or meet new ones. But desiring to take this journey flying solo can indicate needing space from one’s partner. And wanting to make new friends as a single often reveals relational dissatisfaction, and may signal the bloom is off the rose.
A Timeout Is Not Necessarily Game Over
Wanting to spend time alone is not necessarily a relational death knell. The key is to examine whether the desire to take a timeout is a reflection of relational quality or lack thereof. Healthy pairings are those within which both partners enjoy the space to express their individuality, yet love and cherish their time together. A union where both parties feel comfortable integrating themselves as a couple within larger society instead of socializing alone. If you feel like you are spending too much time with your partner, it is time well spent to investigate if you are.
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[i] Hudson, Nathan W., Richard E. Lucas, and M. Brent Donnellan. 2020. “The Highs and Lows of Love: Romantic Relationship Quality Moderates Whether Spending Time with One’s Partner Predicts Gains or Losses in Well-Being.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 46 (4): 572–89. doi:10.1177/0146167219867960.