Contrary to popular belief, you can spend too much time with your partner.
While you might be excited to share all of your experiences with your partner, especially during the honeymoon phase, it's necessary that you also take time for yourself and the other people and things in your life that make you happy. In other words, diving headfirst into a relationship can often be at the expense of other relationships with friends, family and personal hobbies — and that's not healthy.
So how much time exactly should you spend with your partner? Well, that depends both on your relationship and how you're spending your time.
Couples, on average, spend about two to two and a half hours a day together, including weekends, according to the Office for National Statistics. That time is largely spent watching television (one-third of all the time spent together), eating (30 minutes) and doing housework together (24 minutes). That doesn't seem like a whole lot of time — and the time couples tend to spend together also doesn't seem super valuable.
For women, more than men, however, spending quality time together seems to be more important. According to a study of 318 married and cohabitating couples from the Brigham Young University and Colorado State University, women care more about quality time. This time must involve talking to one another (and that doesn't mean fighting over the remote control).
After all, spending too little time together could take a toll on the relationship. A study in the Journal of Sex Research of 6,029 couples from the US National Survey of Families and Households finds that the less time couples spend together, the less sex they have. And a wealth of other research confirms that the more good sex couples have, the happier and healthier their relationship is. In fact, having sex just once a week makes people even happier than earning an extra $5,000 would. Yet another study suggests that spending time cuddling after sex is also important.
Spending quality time together, which can lead to growing closer, has an obvious positive impact on the relationship. After all, a study from National Bureau of Economic Research finds that people who consider their spouse to be their best friend are almost twice as satisfied in their marriages as those who don't. Beyond prioritizing physical intimacy, these happy couples are sharing a lot of their time celebrating each other's achievements, hanging out with mutual friends and trying new things together, according to science.
But, of course, relationships still need boundaries. These are important so that you don't end up allowing your relationship to take up every second of every day and consume all of your energy. After all, research suggests that when women quickly increase the amount of time that they spend with a romantic partner, they also quickly decrease the amount of time that they spend with their best friends.
"Time spent alone can also be important for individuals in new relationships... and this alone time is just as valid as other needs," writes Theresa E DiDonato Ph.D. for Psychology Today. "People benefit from time to reflect on their new relationship and time engaged in activities they love to do by themselves. In walking the tight rope between the demands of one’s work, family and friends, and what the new relationship needs, engaging in self-care is equally important."
It's important, then, to recognize your individual needs, respect your differences, create a balance with which both partners are comfortable keeping and checking in. Whether that means spending two hours a day doing something active together or going on a proper date just once a week is up to you.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.