The honeymoon period of any new relationship is probably one of the very best parts of life. You spend all your time together. You get all kinds of new love, first kisses, rainbows, butterflies, all that good stuff. But then it ends, as it should. Real life has to enter the picture at some point.
Some couples, though, never get the memo that graduating the honeymoon phase also means you don't need to be spending every second of your lives together. You have to come up for air at some point. You have to interact with other human begins who matter to you. And you have to get some healthy distance.
I don't just say this to hate on super cute relationships. I worked with a lot of couples as both a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, and I saw firsthand how being inseparable quickly turns into being codependent if you're not careful. Codependent relationships are not healthy. They cause you to lose sight of yourself, and to put way too much of your identity into your relationship. They lead to low self-esteem, poor decision making, giving up your goals, and even enabling.
It's much better if your relationship is made of two healthy people and not just one super couple. An easy way to tell if you're headed in the wrong direction is to take stock of how much time you're spending together. It might be too much if you're guilty of a lot of these:
1. Your Friends Forget Your Name
Oh, yeah! Friends! Those people you used to hang out with before you met your partner. Friendships are important for any person, whether single or in a relationship. You have to make sure you're spending enough time nurturing those relationships. If your friends are an afterthought now, it might be a sign that you're spending too much time with your significant other. Usually you can make up with your squad and get back to being a real part of each other's lives. It takes effort to find the right balance between relationship time and friend time, but it's essential.
2. Your Social Media Looks Like A Tribute Wall
Before your relationship, your social media was a diverse mix of coffee, cats, selfies, and adventures. If after you get into a relationship, all your accounts basically look like a tribute to your love life, you might be in too deep. Of course, you might just like posting about your relationship, which is cool. But, in my experience, people who spend too much time together tend to show signs online.
3. Your Family Starts Making Passive Aggressive Comments
Your family members start to miss you when you're not around as much. Part of that is growing pains, but part of it could be concern that you're not spending enough time with them because you're spending too much time with your partner. It's common for family members to show that in passive aggressive ways. For example, they may say things like "hey stranger" when they see you, or "I didn't expect you to come" when you attend an event. Listen to that minor shade and see if it has merit.
4. You Have Replaced The Word "I" With "We" In Your Vocabulary
We love that show! We just ate at that restaurant last week. We're doing fine, how about you? Does this sound like you? People who spend too much time together start to blend identities. They stop saying "I am good" and say "we are good." They don't talk about themselves except in terms of their relationship with that other person. Pay attention to how you're speaking. It can be telling!
5. You Respond To All Invitations As "We"
Healthy individuals hang out with their friends and family solo from time to time. They don't need their partners with them every time they go somewhere. People who spend too much time together only respond to joint invitations, and never go anywhere without each other. If you see one, you'll see the other. It can be frustrating to people who miss spending one-on-one time together.
6. You Always Have Plans, Even When You Don't
If your friends try to make plans with you, do you assume you're already busy because you'll be with your partner? Just because you're both home, or both free, doesn't necessarily mean you're off-limits for making plans without each other. In fact, it's often codependent or a sign of a controlling relationship if you feel you can't make other plans when your partner is going to be free, too.
7. You Dropped Most Of Your Single Hobbies
Did you ever think to yourself "I used to paint" or "I used to play soccer; I wanted to go pro." Why did you give up these hobbies or goals? Was there a good reason, or did they just kind of fade away when you got into your relationship? If the answer is the latter, it's a good indicator that you're putting too much stock in your relationship and not developing yourself as an individual.
8. You Only Have Couple Hobbies
When you start to get bored of the same old stuff, night after night, do you go back to your old hobbies and friendships, or do you jump into couples hobbies? What's worse, have you abandoned all of the things you liked to do in favor of all the things your partner likes to do? That's not a healthy give-and-take. Healthy relationships are about compromise as much as they are about time boundaries.
9. You're Out Of Things To Netflix
There are thousands of things to watch on Netflix. If you used to be a person who rarely watched TV and now you're out of things to watch because you've done Netflix & Chill (or Netflix and couch) every night for more nights than you can count, it's a good indicator that you need to get out and stretch your social legs.
10. Stuff Is Starting To Slide
When you're in the honeymoon stage, stuff at work and school starts to slide a little. It happens to the best of us. You can usually get things back under control before disaster happens. But if disaster has already happened, and keeps happening, then dropping the ball might not be a temporary thing. It might be a clear indication that you have all your eggs in the relationship basket and not enough in the responsibilities basket. No good can come from that.
11. You Can't Even Go To The Corner Store Alone
There's loving spending time together and then there's needing to spend time together. When couples get really mixed up in clingy, codependent relationships, they find they can't (or won't) even do the smallest things without each other, like go to the corner store, or run an errand. If you literally haven't gone anywhere without your partner in months, like not even to the nail salon, you might need a relationship reality check.
There's nothing wrong with spending a lot of time together, especially when you first fall in love. But healthy people know that the best way to keep a relationship close is to sometimes give it some distance.
Images: Pexels (12)