How Much Is Too Much?
Q: My boyfriend loves showing me off to his friends. A lot. At first I didn't mind, but now it seems that whenever he's hanging out with his friends, he wants me to be there. I hear about the opposite happening quite a bit. That guys want their own time but he literally drags me along to every sporting event and every card game. It's kind of weird. I have given him subtle hints that he might prefer some nights with just his guy friends. After all, his friends don't bring their wives and significant others out. How can I explain to him that I don't want to constantly go out with him and his guy friends? Deborah-31
Dr. Pamela: On the surface, it may look to others that you have a picture perfect relationship. Your boyfriend wants to spend just about every minute together, even if it means taking you along to hang out with his friends. Doesn't that sound romantic? Not exactly. When it comes to love, being together too much is as damaging to a relationship spending too much time apart. Your boyfriend may have a greater need for togetherness than you. Or he may feel that sharing every moment together is what you do when you are in a relationship. But, when being together so much has you writing for advice about how NOT to be together so much there is a problem. It's difficult, especially in a new relationship, to find the right balance between "we" time and "me" time. The steps to find out what works for you involve introspection, conversation and creating new habits. Take some time to reflect on what you like to do with your day and tell you boyfriend what your preferences are. Dropping hints doesn't cut it, clues may work for puzzles, but you have to clearly state your needs in order effectively communicate in a relationship. Telling your boyfriend what you like can go a long way toward making everyone happier and more satisfied. Saying something as simple as "I like spending time with you, but I need some time alone sometimes too. Maybe I could do this while you do something else" is an okay thing to say. It lets the person know that you like him or her. It states your needs. And it suggests a solution. Over time you can create habits together that you like and that work for you. It would be a waste to find someone you genuinely enjoy spending time with, only to lose the chance to be with them because of your lack of awareness or an inability to tell him or her how you want to spend your hours, being together but apart.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.