Is Spending Less Time With Your Partner A Relationship Red Flag?
The end of a relationship, in most cases, is predictable. When we look back, it is easy to see missed signs and signalled red flags--hints that would have prepared us, had we taken them seriously. One major trait pointing towards a troubled relationship is wanting to spend less time with your partner. However, it’s not all black and while. While the thrill of a relationship is bound to lessen as you get comfortable with each other and tend to slip in your comfort zones, choosing to do things alone may not always be a good thing.
“A relationship is based on two people's love and affection, as well as a desire for companionship with each other. If there is a sudden and drastic decrease in the amount of time one partner wants to spend with another, it's definitely something that needs to be understood in more depth. While not a red flag per se, it might be indicative of some cracks in the emotional bond between the couple,” explains Dr Natasha Kate, psychologist, Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, Mumbai.
While it is perfectly normal to want some time off for yourself, you need to find the right balance between me-time and we-time. “Keeping some time for oneself despite being in a relationship is a healthy practice. Being in a relationship does not mean compromising one's privacy, space and comfort. If these are compromised, it makes the relationship suffocating and unwanted which further makes the person look for the opportunities to escape or run away,” adds Akanksha Pandey, consultant clinical psychologist, Fortis Hospital, Bengaluru.
Experts also reiterate the fact that quality time matters more than how much time you spend together. So not being with your partner for a long period of time is not problematic per se; rather being together, and not interacting or communicating is. “How much time you spend together varies from couple to couple, but spending at least one hour a day can do wonders. The other person in the relationship should not feel like they have to fight their way in your schedule. Couples can have one meal of the day together, but make sure you talk to each other, discuss your day rather than watching TV or checking your phone. There should be a balance in which both the partners are happy with the time spent together at the same time maintaining their outside friendships, family relations and professional lives,” shares Dr Madhu Kotiya, a mind, body & soul doctor.
Sounds fair, right? So there is nothing to be worried about when you want to spend less time with your partner. Akanksha disagrees. “Yes, it is mostly a natural occurrence to want to spend less time with your partner as the relationship grows old because we tend to develop a secure attachment with the partner. However, it should be noted that there could be few potential threats or red flags that can cause your partner to drift away or spend less time. These could be the partner's controlling nature, poor conflict resolution patterns, communication barriers, frequent invalidation of feelings and opinions by the partner, frequent critical evaluation, emotional neglect, unfulfilled needs and desires, leading to failed relationships.”
Life coach, Harry Alexander chimes in with the perfect analogy. “Look at it from the angle of the learning curve principle - the more time you spend mastering a certain art the less time you need to make quality products out of it. Using this in the context of a relationship, the longer you stay with your partner, the common nuances of living together and each other’s idiosyncrasies are so well understood that the time you would spend earlier in relation to the time you spend as the years' progress, becomes minimal.”
Dr Fabian Almeida, consultant psychiatrist, Fortis Hospital, Mumbai adds in: “Each partner in the relationship has to be responsible to make quality score over quantity of time spent together. If there is a deliberate attempt to stay apart from each other, it is usually accompanied by other associated signs of irritability, betrayal, workaholic traits, lack of physical intimacy, and other signs.”
At the end of the day, there is nothing wrong in wanting to spend some time apart from your partner--but it is important to know why you want to do so. “If it is to spend some time with yourself or with friends who are important to you, it's alright. But if you increasingly feel that spending time with your partner is not something you enjoy or prioritize, then it is important to take a closer look at your relationship,” concludes Dr Natasha.