Dear One Love,
My boyfriend is taking over my life. How do I keep my relationship balanced and healthy? I miss my friends!
This is an incredibly common issue for people in relationships, especially newer ones. Sometimes it’s because the “honeymoon phase” causes you to want to do everything with your partner, making that the new normal. Other times it’s because it’s difficult to discuss boundaries. Balance is hard to achieve without a partner in the mix—but having to organize your life around your priorities and partner is like playing a game on hard mode.
Let’s enter the discovery phase of solving this problem. Ask yourself: What hobbies did I pursue before this relationship began? Who did I hang out with? What do I miss?
Then ask yourself: Why don’t I do those things anymore?
If your answer is something along the lines of “Because my boyfriend won’t let me,” you may have spotted a red flag. A healthy relationship is balanced and allows both people to pursue other activities and friendships without your partner’s need for control getting in the way. If your boyfriend won’t “let” you do those things, either by telling you not to or by making you feel guilty for spending time without him, there are deeper problems than just poor scheduling and new-romance infatuation. Specifically, the odds are high that you’re in a relationship marked by jealousy and/or control, and it may take a little more than a conversation to move you back to a healthy place.
But if your answer is something like “Because I lost sight of my priorities when my boyfriend and I got together, and I’m not quite sure how to sort things out,” there’s time to fix this thing. Again, it’s pretty common for romantic relationships to shake up schedules and routines. And there are a handful of reasons how and why this happens, which leads me to the next question you should ask yourself…
What’s gotten in the way?
Some couples struggle to find time apart because they do everything together, from grocery shopping and chores to dinners and hanging out with friends. Yikes! No one likes when that one friend brings their boyfriend to every social gathering. If this is you, try suggesting that you do a few things apart each week, like taking a local community college class or spending time with family. Not only will you enjoy a bit of time away, but you’ll each have something to tell each other about that the other hasn’t experienced!
Other couples struggle to establish boundaries because it’s a touchy subject. I get it! It’s hard to tell your boyfriend you may be spending a little too much time together. If your partner struggles with their self-esteem, you may worry that letting them know you need some alone time will hurt their feelings. Regardless, you can reframe the conversation into one that will be productive for both of you. When you bring up wanting to hang out with friends more or even wanting to walk the dog alone, try pointing out the mutual benefits of taking time apart:
- You’ll be more excited to see each other when you reunite!
- You’ll each be more well-rounded individuals with unique experiences!
- Your partner will have time to hang out with their friends or pursue their hobbies untethered, too!
Finally, some individuals have a hard time taking time away from their partners due to their own internal mindset. It’s easy to believe that when you’re in love, you and your partner become practically the same person; you love all the same things, have all the same goals, and, naturally, do everything together. While this is a lovely concept, it’s unrealistic; perhaps, more importantly, it isn’t the foundation for a healthy relationship. You and your boyfriend are two different people with similar goals who enjoy sharing life with one another. While you may like some of the same things and share a few of the same friends, that should be the basis for your relationship, not your entire life. At the end of the day, you’re your own person.
Whether you simply start scheduling time with friends or you have a heart-to-heart with your boyfriend, remember: a good partner with a healthy mindset will understand that you need time apart. They may even be craving their own alone time! And after you sort things out, try to maintain that healthy balance by continuing to pursue your own goals and friendships. Your relationship will only grow stronger from there.