The pandemic has put a strain on romantic relationships since Day 1. In many cases, people spent inordinate amounts of time with their partners, confined to small apartments for months on end with nary a guest in sight. In response, we learned new lingo, navigated existential questions about how vaccine rollout would affect coupledom, and yes, even watched movies about other couples in lockdown. And while the world isn’t back to its regularly scheduled programming just yet, some people are starting to reenter society. It’s worth asking, Am I still spending too much time with my partner?
“It's perfectly normal to miss [your partner] when you’re not together,” says Katie Lasson, a sexologist and relationship advisor for the sex toy company Peaches and Screams. “However, this sadness shouldn't be paralyzing, and you shouldn’t feel depressed all day long.”
After 2020, it’s understandably tough to distinguish a healthy partnership from codependency. So, to aid your ease back into society, five experts share signs that you and your partner are spending too much time together.
1. Your Best Friend Is Throwing Shade
Maybe your friend is throwing side-eye at happy hour, or dropping cryptic Instagram comments about your availability. Resist the temptation to get defensive. They probably miss you. Just as you’ve had to adjust to being in a new relationship, they’ve had to adjust to losing regular time with their person.
If you no longer get invitations to girls' nights or family functions, you might be spending too much time with your partner, says Rosalind Sedacca, a life and relationship coach. Adds Lasson, “Having friends is important for our well-being. Make them a priority — and remember, you can have many priorities.”
2. You Don’t Like The Way Your Partner Breathes
“A classic sign that you're spending too much time together and relying on each other too much is when you find yourself getting irritable over the little things,” says Tatyana Dyachenko, a sex and relationship expert for Peaches and Screams. “You may try to control what they're doing. This is unhealthy and a sign you need to take a step back.”
And sure, it’s normal to get annoyed with your partner sometimes, especially if you’re in a long-term relationship. But not constantly. "This is a great time to get back into hobbies or activities that you enjoyed in the past but maybe haven't had time for lately," says Emily Cosgrove, a therapist and psychotherapist.
3. You're Falling Behind
Have you fallen behind at work? Is your dog begging for some TLC? Relationships can be distracting, especially new ones. "[If] you don’t have time for your own hobbies, interests, friends, work and family relationships, this is a sign of an unhealthy relationship," says psychologist Daniel Sher. "A healthy relationship involves two independent individuals connecting, not one person giving up their identity to be with the other."
Lasson agrees. In order to develop healthy friendships, you need to invest time and energy into those as well. “If you get caught up in the thought that even a temporary separation makes you suffer, and you can't think of anything but the moment you meet again, you're emotionally dependent on that relationship,” she says.
4. You Don't Know What To Do When They're Not Around
"If life only revolves around your partner, you're spending too much time with them," Sedacca says. Lasson takes this idea a step further: “If you can only truly rejoice when they do, and only grieve when they’re sad, you’re just reflecting their emotions. You’re like a mirror,” she says. It’s a loss of self, and makes it impossible to be with others in a healthy, sustainable way.
5. You're Bored In The Relationship
It’s not uncommon to feel bored in a long-term relationship. The dating rollercoaster has subsided, and everything else feels bland by comparison. But feeling bored could also be a sign that you’re spending too much time with your partner. Experts recommend testing out new activities, both as a pair and separately. “One of the main reasons that things start to go wrong in a long term-relationship is that one or both of the partners start to expect too much from each other,” Dyachenko told Bustle recently. “They start to rely on their partner to make them happy, [which] puts too much pressure on the relationship. No one can fill that role for you.”
6. You Don’t Experience Deep Feelings In Other Situations
Sure, you’re in an intense, all-consuming love. But when is it too much? “Emotional dependence on a partner is most evident in the bright and true emotions that you’d otherwise feel when you meet other people, experience different events, but now it only happens when you’re with them,” Lasson says. “When was the last time you rejoiced or got so angry it seemed you would burst? If these memories are related solely to the relationship, [it could mean] you’re emotionally addicted.” And emotional addictions are neither healthy nor sustainable.
7. You Resent Your Partner
Sometimes spending too much time with another person can manifest in resentment. "If you're in an otherwise loving and healthy relationship but are experiencing feelings of irritation or resentment, perhaps it's time to take time apart from each other," Cosgrove says. Then, after your time away, reevaluate what wasn’t working and where you can both improve, she says. It’s a good way to get back in touch with each other and with yourselves.
Katie Lasson, sexologist and relationship advisor for Peaches and Screams
Rosalind Sedacca, life and relationship coach
Tatyana Dyachenko, sex and relationship expert at Peaches and Screams
Emily Cosgrove, therapist and psychotherapist
Daniel Sher, clinical psychologist and sex therapy expert
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