Among the many not-so-loveable patterns I repeat in my relationships is my desire to spend every spare moment with the snugglebear in my life. Probably because I go so long between snugglebears that I have to squeeze in as much as I can to catch up. I caught myself doing this again with the boy of the moment this past weekend. We had essentially spent the entire weekend together, so he declined my invitation to share a lovely Sunday with me. My instinctual reaction was to get butthurt and conclude that he chose not to spend time with me because he hated me with the fire of a thousand angry suns.
Then the more reasonable little angel on the opposite shoulder stepped in, smacked me upside the head and calmly explained that a couple does not have to spend every spare moment together in order to be happy. In fact, chances are it’s probably healthier to spend some time apart. Give each other a chance to miss those adorable little habits that you love so much. Like the cute way he clips his toenails in the sink or his sweet concern for your poor housekeeping skills.
More than anything, that free time gives you the opportunity to continue your personal growth outside of the relationship. It seems fairly obvious, but it took a friend pointing it out as I was embarking on my latest romantical adventure:
When you start a relationship, force yourself to do things you did before meeting him. That way when the infatuation high comes down you won't have lost yourself.
-Big Sister Morgan
Doing the things I loved prior to the relationship helps me stay in touch with a certain level of independence. An independence I need in order to prevent myself from crumbling if the relationship does. I don’t know why it’s been so difficult for me to maintain this balance. I actually feared I had become too autonomous during my season of singlehood. I enjoyed being able to come and go without consulting someone else’s schedule so much that I figured I would be neglectful of the next hunnybun’s needs when he came along.
But it turns out it’s easier for me to fall into old patterns. It would seem an extended period of singlehood did nothing to really change the core of who I am in a relationship. It’s pretty easy for me to blow off lesser obligations to commit to spending time with poodle. That’s probably a good thing to some degree as it indicates that I actually enjoy spending time with the kid.
Though I will say the lessons I learned in loving my time flying solo will come in handy the next time a relationship ends. After years of serial monogamy, being alone felt unnatural and this kept me in a number of truly unhealthy situations. Next time I imagine it won’t be so difficult to bounce back. It’s gotta be like riding a bike, right? Regardless, this bouncing will be much softer if I take the time to foster relationships and interests outside the confines of my love interest. Plus, he will likely appreciate the breathing room.