Spending an inordinate amount of time with the one you are falling in love with is normal. Actually, we are wired to do it. Gazing at each other, constant touching, ruminating about when we next get to be with our new love—all essential to the bonding process. But, not necessarily adaptive over the long run of a relationship.
As a marriage and family therapist, I never think that there is one right way to have a relationship. Some people fall in love and they become a unit onto themselves against the scary, world-at-large. This can work because one of the most important things about a having a significant other is that you keep each other safe. You can count on your partner to be there when you are stumbling in life. To quote former Canadian Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, “a proof is a proof” (best said in a thick Quebecois accent). Meaning, that if something generally works for your relationship, and both partners are happy, this is proof that it’s a good thing.
That said, being a unit onto yourselves by spending all your time exclusively with your significant other, doesn’t work for most people. We are social beings, evolved to be in communities. One person is usually incapable of meeting all our needs and nor should they be expected to.
What’s more, the more people that we have who support/care about us, the better chance we have for survival and success. This is especially true when living in our modern, busy, individualistic, often alienating society.
So how do you know when too much of a good thing is just too much? Some signs of this are:
- Your family and friends start commenting that you are never around, or that you are distracted when your person isn’t with you.
- You begin to feel anxious when you are separated from your love (post-falling in love). That is, you no longer feel confident being on your own, and being an individual in your own right.
- You start to feel like you are in a relationship that runs itself. You feel like you don’t need to communicate with your significant other about how you are feeling or about the thoughts going through your head. You assume they already know it all or they’ve been alongside you to witness it all.
- You are feeling bored with your partner and the spark is waning. Sharing the events of our day, discussing the various characters in our lives, communicating our deepest (and not so deep) feelings bring novelty, which is necessary for sustaining and invigorating a long-term relationship.
One of the benefits of being in a secure, loving relationship is that it allows us to feel safe to go out and explore the world on our own, knowing that we have someone special to come home to. So, the bottom-line is, if you don’t feel like this benefit is happening for you, chances are you need to take some time away from your partner.