Couples often think that the more time they spend together, the better their relationship will be. We’ve all met the infamous pair that won’t go anywhere without each other like the Siamese Couple—partners who are joined at the hip. Then there’s the opposite extreme, the couple that doesn't go anywhere at all. We call them the Ghost Couple. Their friends often wonder if they’ve moved to another country, or worse, whether or not they’re still alive.
Deeply cherishing your significant other is a beautiful thing. And sadly, commitment is scarce these days. The world could use more serious relationships, especially in this generation. But there’s a thin line between love and obsession.
Couples who spend too much time together often lose a sense of their identity. They forget how important it is to maintain separate lives and pursue their prior goals.
If your relationship is lacking in this department, there are a few things you can do to encourage a little more space and strengthen it in the long run.
- Keep Your Friends Close.
Just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you should lose touch with friends. Losing touch with friends happens a lot and is often written off as being normal. “I haven’t heard from Joe in a while; he must be back with his ex.” That is not acceptable.
We all need friends in our lives, whether we’re single or not. Make a point to keep in touch with them. Don’t only call them when you need something or when things go wrong in your relationship. They’ll get sick of hearing solely about your problems, and they’ll start to feel used, and the connection can get lost.
They’ll view your boyfriend or girlfriend as the reason they never see you. And they’ll start to resent them for it. That will put a strain on the relationship as outside forces are rooting for you to break up. You need friends to support you. That’s the whole point of friendship.
- Go Out Solo.
It’s important to have your Girls or Guys Nights Out, even when you’re in a relationship. Flying solo will allow you to enjoy yourself, without worrying about whether your copilot is having fun too. Plus, your friends will appreciate the one-on-one time they don’t always get from you.
Going out alone provides an opportunity to acknowledge your identity. It will help you gain confidence that will, in turn, reflect positively on the relationship.
In my experience, being alone at parties and other outings makes me speak more highly of my boyfriend than I would if he was with me. I’ve even had to stop myself from bragging too much before. It allows you to look at the relationship from an outside angle, and notice the things you may be taking for granted. On the contrary, I have also been able to pinpoint issues from this view that I was unaware of before.
Pursue Separate Hobbies.
In general, having hobbies is important. Why do you think our parents spend so much money getting us into sports, or dance, or band? Pursuing these interests help us focus and learn more about ourselves while also building our self-esteem.
Healthy relationships are defined when two people become interested in one another’s individuality. We’ve all heard the saying, “opposites attract,” right? You fall in love with people because they can do the things you cannot do; it's not a good idea to then start taking those things from them. Let them be who they are and let them do what they do.
These differences encourage independence into the relationship. Partners with different strengths can expand their ability as a couple and broaden each other’s cultural horizon. They rarely run out of things to talk about, come up with unique date ideas and enjoy teaching and learning from one another.
- Spend Time Alone
Spending time alone is just as important as spending time with friends and family. Create a healthy balance. There should be the perfect amount of space between you and your partner so that things don’t feel mundane. In this case, distance does indeed make the heart grow fonder.
Spending time apart will make you appreciate your moments together even more. Having space has also helped me sustain the whole mystery factor, which keeps the spark alive.
- Agree Upon a Degree of Independence.
It’s important that both partners have a mutual understanding of this desired independence. A relationship is bound to fail when one person is more dependent than the other. There’s a difference between needing someone and wanting them.
When a person needs you, it usually means that it doesn’t matter who you are as long as you’re their crutch to fall on. These partners are the dependent type. They will resent you for wanting to do things without them. They might find it offensive or shady, possibly even assuming that you’re cheating. Dependent partners will drive you, and themselves, crazy. Trust me; I’ve dated one.
When a person wants you in their life, and vice versa, it’s a much bigger compliment. It’s like saying, I could manage life fine without you, but I’d rather not.
Healthy couples talk about these things. They agree upon how much space there should be in the relationship and they respect it. They don’t resent each other for wanting time alone, or time with friends. They trust each other and together, they grow and flourish as independent people.