Do You and Your Partner Argue About How Much Time You Spend Together?

Do you and your partner have different expectations for how much time you spend together? Does one of you think you should spend more time together while the other wants more time doing their own thing? If so, the following tips may help you identify how to address this concern.

Me Time Vs. Us Time

Conflict over time spent together vs. apart is a common relationship problem. Your partner may want to do more activities by him/herself, which may make you feel that he/she doesn’t care enough about you. Or maybe your partner wants more time together, which makes you feel crowded or claustrophobic. You might find it harder to enjoy the time that you do spend together because you are upset you do not get enough time for yourself.

Tips for the partner who wants more “Us” Time

“I resent the time my partner wants to spend by him/herself as it shows our relationship is not important to him/her.”

The more your partner wants alone time, the more you feel uncared for. You may push for more time together, which may make your partner pull away. Or, you may withdraw from the relationship to protect yourself.

  1. Be Open With Your Feelings. You may feel hurt that your partner wants to spend time alone, but, when you communicate this, try not to demand that he/she changes. When you express your feelings, try to be vulnerable and share with your partner why it is important to you that you share more time together. Do hidden emotions play a role? Are natural differences intensifying the problem?
  1. Talk With Your Partner. There’s a big difference between: a) our partners not wanting to be with us and b) our partners wanting to do an activity that doesn’t involve us. You may be assuming that time apart is evidence that your partner doesn’t care about you when it doesn’t mean that at all.  So, talk about it with your partner!
  1. Grow Your Social Group. No one can be everything to anyone. In other words, it’s healthy to have more than one person you can share with, depend on, and have fun with.  So, if your partner is the only person who fills those needs for you, we’d recommend you try to expand your social group.
  1. Respect Your Partner’s Differences. People often differ on how much time they want to spend alone or with other people. If your partner needs time to him/herself, the most likely explanation for this time alone is that it helps your partner recharge. By giving your partner some time alone, he/she will be more refreshed and more likely to be present the next time you spend time together. For your partner, there may be a lot of truth in the saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder”.
  1. Enjoy Your “Us” Time. When you’re together, try not to worry about when it will end. Be present in the moment and recognize the enjoyment. Your partner will appreciate how relaxing your time spent together which might increase the likelihood of it happening more often!


Tips for the partner who wants more “Me” Time

“I need to take time for myself or I resent my partner.”

The more your partner pushes you to spend time together, the more resentful you feel. You may withdraw to avoid conflict.

  1. Remember to Compromise. You may need time to yourself, but you should also prioritize some time together with your partner. Identify some times during the week when you and your partner can spend uninterrupted time together. Or, consider involving your partner in some of the activities you currently do by yourself or with your friends.
  2. Be Specific About Your Needs. When you do take time for yourself, communicate why you need time so your partner understands it is not because of relationship problems. You may say something like, “I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed and a few hours by myself will make me feel better so that I can be a better me when we spend time together next.”
  3. Specify Your Time Together. It’s important not only to spend more time with your partner, but also to be on the same page about HOW you spend your time. If one of you thinks an activity counts as time spent together while the other one does not- for example, when watching TV together- you may find yourselves fighting over how you want to spend your time together. Especially until this problem resolves, check in with each other about what you want to do and try to compromise so that you each feel you are getting your needs met. Without the added fighting, you’ll each be able to better enjoy your time together.
  4. Respect Your Partner’s Differences. People often differ on how much time they want to spend alone or with other people. if your partner is wanting more time together, his/her hidden emotion may pop up when you don’t make the time. Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and recognize where hurt feelings are coming from. Validate your partner by communicate that you appreciate how much the relationship means to him/her.


Tips for both partners

The suggestions presented here may help you break the cycle you and your partner are struggling with when you differ in how much time you want to spend together versus alone. Here are a few more tips to help you in this area:

  1. Start With Change. Start by making your own changes first as this will increase the likelihood that your partner will also make changes.
  2. Ensure Quality Time. When you do spend time together, make sure it is quality time. The more you increase quality time spent together, the more your relationship will grow, even if the amount of time spent together is not as frequently as one of you may like. Let your partner know how much you appreciate the time spent together.


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