When my friend's relationship transitioned from the honeymoon phase into long-term reality, she noticed that her boyfriend started doing something he hadn't done since they became an official thing—making weekend plans without her. I know, not a big deal, right? But when you've gotten into a routine with someone you love, a change in behavior can feel like a huge deal. So like anyone in this situation, she tried looking for the warning signs of a breakup.
It turns out, he is just as happy and in love with her as ever. They just hit that point in their relationship where they didn't need to spend every moment together to know they love each other. But it had me thinking, there are things that you and your partner should be able to ask for within your relationship that don't mean either of you wants to breakup.
"It is healthy to have your own interests, hobbies, friends and your life," Anya Shumilina, LMSW, Director of Dialectical Behavior Therapy at Behavioral Associates tells Bustle. "Relationships are about partnership."
Each person brings something unique to the dynamic, Shumilina says. You grow, learn and have a better relationship by bettering yourself first. So doing things like traveling alone, having brunch with friends, exploring career opportunities, or thinking of your own personal and professional goals are healthy aspirations that help you maintain your mental health.
Having a healthy mindset is the foundation for a strong relationship and the way to feel 'complete,' she says. When you feel complete, looking for problems will be the furthest thing from your mind. So here are some things that don't mean you want to breakup:
1. Wanting To Do More "Solo Things" Vs. "Couples Things"
When you just get into a relationship, it's natural to want to do everything with your partner. But that can only last for so long.
"People in the healthiest and happiest relationships, need time and space to retain their autonomy and individuality," Jessica Elizabeth Opert, relationship and dating coach tells Bustle. "Couples who practice integrating this when times are good, don't have to worry about sending the mixed message that this subliminally means 'things are bad' even if and when they legit need to just get a break from their partner."
2. Asking For Space
When you do decide that you "legit need to just take a break" from your partner, asking for space doesn't have to mean the kiss of death. The number one thing to remember here is language is a powerful thing. The words you use when you're asking for space is important.
"Asking for space has become the new 'on a break' a la Friends," Opert says. So calling it "me time," a "mental health weekend," or a "girl's weekend," can help. "Up leveling that with some good old fashioned clear, honest, and kind communication ensures no one is left wondering, Oh no! What happened to us?" she says.
3. Choosing To Spend Time With Family Over The Holidays Instead Of Each Other
Holidays can be a big deal to a lot of couples. "But sometimes before marriage, people don't want to lose their holiday time with their families," Stef Safran, owner of Chicago-based matchmaking service Stef and the City, tells Bustle. "As long you make agreements about sharing time after you get engaged, don't assume the worst."
4. Wanting To Talk To Friends Over Your Partner After A Long Day
Sometimes your friends can be your sounding board. Just because your partner wants to vent out their frustrations to someone other than you, it doesn't mean they don't see you as a best friend.
"It just means that it's OK to have other friends who listen to you," Safran says.
5. Going On A Weekend Trip With Friends
It's OK to go on a trip without your partner. It's OK if they ask to do the same thing. You don't have to be together 24/7 to know things are great between the two of you.
"Some requests and actions in a relationship may seem negative to the other but are only natural as human beings," Susan Trombetti, relationship expert and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking tells Bustle. "To get space or spend time apart from one another is not always a bad thing. Spending time apart puts perspective on your love and appreciation for the other and distance only can strengthen your bond."
6. Lack Of Communication
If your partner doesn't text back right away or goes silent for a bit, there's really no need to panic. "There is a time in most everyone's life where they become a little anti-social," April Davis, relationship expert, and CEO of LUMA, Luxury Matchmaking tells Bustle. "It doesn't mean they don't like you, maybe they're just busier than they thought and don't realize how little they are giving to you. If you're worried and want to confront your partner about their silence, ease into it."
7. Not Advertising Your Relationship On Social Media
Becoming Facebook-official shouldn't be looked at as a major relationship milestone all couples have to go through. Some people just like their privacy.
"I find it odd when a couple puts way too much of themselves on social media. A bit is OK (cool, everyone gets it, you’re in a relationship) but too much and it seems like there’s nothing special left that just 'yours' to share," Shindy Chen, lifestyle blogger and author of The First Time tells Bustle. "Only you two know what’s real. A lot of the contrived, seemingly-perfect social media pics that you see, actually mask what isn’t.
As you can see, there are so many different things you and your partner should be able to do without fear of it leading to a breakup. But if you're still feeling iffy about where your relationship is headed, communicating your need for space, or to go out with friends, or to take a solo trip will clear up any confusion and doubts that your partner may have. Yes, it's important to be an individual and do your own thing, but you're also in a partnership. So it's also important to make sure everyone's on the same page.