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When you're dating someone, the natural inclination is to spend as much time as possible with that person. After all, that's the point, isn't it? To spend enough time with someone in order to determine whether the relationship could move toward a healthy marriage?
It's important to ask questions from the other end as well because it helps provide a well-rounded perspective. How much time is too much time to spend with your significant other? What is a healthy balance in dating, and how does that change if you're dating long distance? I've been thinking about these questions this week and even posted them on Facebook to see what kind of responses I would get. I received a wide variety of answers from people in all different stages of relationships.
But the perspective was the same: Spend as much time together as possible as long as it doesn't interfere with other responsibilities. One of my friends made an important observation, which was that the quality of time spent together can offset the quantity of time spent together.
While it is unhealthy for someone to make a significant other their entire world and spend every waking minute together, quality time together in person is important. Relationships grow in correlation with how much effort and work is put into them. The more time two people spend together, the better they learn to communicate and care for one another, and the more they discover how compatible they are and how well they work together.
You can't do that through a screen or through no communication at all. It's important to find a healthy balance, and every relationship is different. My boyfriend and I try to see each other every weekend as long as we don't have prior obligations. We text throughout the day and try to Skype for an hour or so once or twice a week. Occasionally we make time for a short phone call or two. And that works for us.
The long distance helps me maintain a healthy balance. Since my boyfriend and I are limited to seeing each other only on weekends, we are able to carry on our own lives throughout the week. We don't place unhealthy expectations on each other in terms of our social lives. We maintain our separate interests and commitments, and we still have space and time to invest in friendships.
It would certainly be nice to spend more time together, but our balance leaves us feeling involved enough in each other's lives. We don't feel ignored or lonely, but we don't feel burdened either. I think that is key for any relationship.
You want to find a balance and a routine that allows you to feel involved in the other person's life without being overly involved. You don't want to act married when you're not, but you don't want to be in a relationship and act like you're single either.
What balance have you found in your relationship that works? Or if you're single, how would you maintain a healthy balance in future relationships based on your experiences and observations?
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--When I was single (which, let's face it, has been most of my adult life so far), I saw plenty of couples who spent WAY too much time together. They had no other social life because they felt the need to spend every waking minute together. They abandoned other friendships, bumped family stuff way down on the list of priorities, and even let the relationship interfere with school and/or work. I resolved NEVER to be that way.
When I met the first guy I dated, it was somewhat "long-distance." We managed to spend Saturdays together, but that was about it. During the week, we'd chat online, talk on the phone once or twice, and send LONG emails back and forth. It worked for us.
The second guy I dated was a local guy. For some reason, though, he seemed hesitant to spend much time with me. A short lunch-break date once a week was pretty typical. Occasionally, we'd go out on a weekend, and once he took the day off work (on a day that I was off as well) so that we could spend the day together. Phone calls were frequent and lengthy, and we chatted online every day. It didn't quite make up for the lack of face-to-face interaction, especially since we only lived a few miles from each other, and eventually I think that contributed to my decision to call things off. If he didn't want to actually spend time with me, I didn't feel that I could let things progress any farther.
The guy I'm "getting to know" now (OK, I guess most people would say that we are dating, but it's a really new relationship) seems to enjoy spending time with me. Again, this one is somewhat long-distance, so we only see each other on Saturdays, but so far he's made an effort to plan something EVERY Saturday. The problem is that there is almost NO during-the-week communication. He texts me (or sends me a FB message) to make plans for our dates, but there is no conversation that happens beyond the specifics of date-planning. I know he works long hours, and so do I, but I'm pretty sure that we could manage at least one phone call or Skype session per week! His lack of communication is really making it hard for me to get to know him. When we are actually together, we have no trouble talking about anything and everything, so I'm not sure what the problem is. I've been trying to think of a way to let him know that I really need a little more communication if we are actually going to see where our budding relationship could go.
--@MisccC1: From a man's perspective, maybe he's trying to take things slow and not come off too strong. He doesn't want to appear as the guy who wants to "spend every waking moment together", as you said in your first paragraph. I would say maybe he needs a gentle nudge, the green light from you to go ahead and pursue you. Like you, maybe he's had some iffy experiences and is trying to not let history repeat itself.
Or, I could be totally wrong. If I am, please accept my apologies in advance.
Grace and peace.
--mrmah85, thanks for your input. I've wondered if that's it. That he's trying not to come on too strong too soon, and that he's trying not to rush things. In no way do I want to rush things, but we've been "getting to know each other" for about two months now and I'm ready to either make a little progress or accept the fact that he's just not that into me. It's not like we are still in highschool here...we're both in our 30s! If he's not into me, I need to move on and not waste my time or his time.
How would you suggest that I gently nudge him and let him know that it's OK to call me and pursue me more actively? I've thought about just picking up the phone and calling HIM, but somehow the old-fashioned girl in me would prefer that he make that move.
--@MissC1: If you've been seeing each other for two months, I don't think it's a bad thing to meet with him and have a DTR (define the relationship) talk. I don't think it's uncalled for or going against the notion of "man pursues woman" to let him know that you need to know where this is going. If anything, especially if you're both in your 30s, it's a good thing for the both of you. By the way, I would say the exact same thing if you both were in your 20s.
P.S. You know you're a Boundless groupie when you use lingo such as "DTR" without giving it a second thought! :-)
"--@MisccC1: From a man's perspective, maybe he's trying to take things slow and not come off too strong. He doesn't want to appear as the guy who wants to "spend every waking moment together", as you said in your first paragraph. "
I was thinking the exact same thing. In the beginning of relationships I try not to come on too strong either.
"How would you suggest that I gently nudge him and let him know that it's OK to call me and pursue me more actively? I've thought about just picking up the phone and calling HIM, but somehow the old-fashioned girl in me would prefer that he make that move."
The best way to communicate with a buy is to do so directly. Men are not very good at taking hints or nudges and they definitely can't read minds. So if you want this guy to communicate with you more during the week, you are going to have to say so.
Probably the best way to go about it is to bring it up next time you're together and just say that you'd like to talk some during the week, and ask if he would mind if you called him sometime the next week. You may want to see if there's a good time for him or if he would rather you just call whenever. And make it clear that if either of you calls and the other can't talk, that you understand.
Also, when you call, have something to talk about - ideally something you'd like to get his opinion on. Don't just expect him to take time out of his busy day to chat about nothing much. That may be the hangup for him. That doesn't mean you should call him up to interrogate him about his views. It should flow naturally and be a way of asking him to share who he is with you. For example: "Hey, I was just sitting here watching a couple kids with their mom in the grocery store. They are so cute. How are you doing?...Speaking of kids, do you like kids? I always wanted to have at least a couple." The idea is to cover important topics like future goals, Christian faith, family, church, community involvement, and whatever else is important to you fairly soon in the relationship. You need to know what kind of man he is and what he believes in before you spend a lot of time getting emotionally attached. That way, if you're not compatible on the big issues, you can walk away without tearing up either of your hearts. And if you are compatible, then you can get to know each other more deeply once you know that the big things match up.
As for you calling him, I'm as traditional a girl as you're likely to meet, but there is nothing wrong with you calling him. He's already started pursuing you and you're in a relationship where you're getting to know one another. You have every right to call him at this point. It's not necessary for him to initiate every contact you have, nor is it wise. In fact, if he has to initiate every contact - every phone call, every date, etc. - then he's likely to think you aren't very interested. Remember, he can't read your mind. So, while it is his job to pursue, it is your job to welcome and encourage his pursuit - and part of that is to respond to his pursuit by seeking to know him better, seeking to spend time with him, and letting him know that you want to spend time with him by making it a priority to do so. Calling him when you want to talk to him is entirely appropriate at this point. It only becomes a problem if you call him multiple times a day (that's a little much) or if you are initiating the majority of your interactions with him. Either of those make you look clingy and hint that he's not ready for that level of interaction with you. But short of that, it is perfectly fine to contact him sometimes. It's even appropriate to suggest date ideas or ask if he wants to get together for coffee during the week. That's not being forward, that's inviting him to spend time with you and pursue you.
--Thanks folks! We had a long conversation, and cleared up a lot of things. It turns out that my concerns were totally unfounded...thank goodness!
mrmah85, we didn't have a specific DTR conversation, but I now have a good idea of where we are at this point, the pace we'll be taking, and our purpose in dating.
--Hmmm. Seems like I spend more time with my (long-distance) BF than most people!
- We Skype every night for an hour or so
- We try to spend every weekend together
That really is a lot of time!
I do love how he and I talk every day, though. It's really nice for him to be my 'goodnight call'.
--What advice do you have for college students who are dating? The ease of living in such close proximity, where the other person is essentially always available, it is very easy to find that you are spending all your time together. What kind of boundaries do you think are important, or even necessary? For example, my boyfriend and I have been intentional about choosing student housing that is on opposite ends of campus (flee from temptation!) and not spending time together in our rooms, but these things really are not quite discouraging enough. I have found that we swing from seeing each other a lot to not seeing each other at all. Certainly a difficult balance!
Also, how does your relationship with God fit in to the whole picture? I have heard the analogy many times that a godly relationship should be two people both seeking God, and the relationship between the two is worked out in the seeking process. Which, I can attest to, certainly. But, how do you make sure that you are running to God and not to man? It is a great mystery.
Any thoughts are appreciated! Thank you!
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