We’ve all had that friend who has got into a relationship and then they fall off the face of the earth. When we find ourselves in a romantic relationship, we need to remember that spending too much time together can weaken it. By keeping a healthy group of friends and other interests that bring us joy and fulfillment, there is less pressure on just ‘one person’ to make us happy.

When a new romantic relationship begins, you naturally have less time for other things. You want to enjoy each other’s company, get to know each other more, and spend time together.

However, I often see and hear of couples who suddenly make their new relationship the meaning of life. If they aren’t sleeping then they’re together. Everything else gets cancelled and everything else gets dropped.

So how do we gain that elusive thing called ‘balance’?

However, I have also seen couples who start a relationship but don’t make time for it. They keep going on with their lives and commitments and don’t make time to build a healthy enjoyable relationship.

Can We Find A Balance?

So how do we gain that elusive thing called ‘balance’? How do we make sure we invest in our romantic relationship enough, along with other relationships as well?

The real skill is making sure we don’t go too far over in one direction

In all honesty, balance is rare if not impossible. I find life and relationships are more like a pendulum. We live by one principle, and when we realise we’ve gone too far we swing back the other way. We swing back to the opposite, but just as helpful and important principle.

The real skill is making sure we don’t go too far over in one direction for too long and damage our relationship.

This first part of the two-part post looks at the importance of spending time apart. Part 2 will look at the importance of spending time together. (Read Part 2 here)

(The following extract is taken from page 144-145 of The Dating Dilemma book, read the introduction for free.)

Spend Time Apart

‘Don’t smother each other. No one can grow in the shade’. (Leo Buscaglia)

The first part of this guideline is about spending time away from each other, but spending time apart and being distant in your relationship are not the same thing. Being distant is holding out on someone, which can lead to loneliness, even when you’re together.

It will help you keep a realistic perspective on your relationship

Spending time apart is about maintaining a holistic lifestyle and developing all areas of your life, socially, spiritually and emotionally. It’s about living widely and having more of a life to share. (Read Marriage Isn’t Really About ‘Us’)

It will help you keep a realistic perspective on your relationship. Remember you had a life full of significant friendships before you met this person!

Investing In Other People

You need to value your friends, even when you’re dating. It’s so easy to make our friends feel as if they take second place when we respond to invitations with: ‘I just need to check what (insert name of significant other) is doing first; then I’ll get back to you.’

You are aiming for interdependence

Instead of codependence, where you function like each other’s life support (what a mood killer), you are aiming for interdependence, where you each love what the other brings to the relationship. So keep investing in your hobbies, church life and other interests that made you date stronger. Giving each other the freedom to develop is a mark of selflessness.

Jason and Rachel

When Jason and [Rachel] were dating, Jason started a band that gigged in London pubs. Sometimes late-night rehearsals meant that [Rachel]  didn’t get to see him as much as [she] would have liked. But knowing that [her] support encouraged him to explore his dreams was great, not just for him, but for [Rachel] too. It was amazing to see how [her] love for him helped him to grow in confidence.

We Can All Invest

If you are single, you can be choosing this, and if you’re dating, you need to be keeping an eye on this. Even in marriage, it is important to have a wide group of friends who will support you and spur you on.

We will always need wider friendships, pursuits, and passions to enrich our lives in the way God intended. But it won’t just happen; we need to find ways to maintain the balance, no matter what situations we find ourselves in. The idea that we don’t need anyone is a crazy one, and certainly not biblical (see Hebrews 10:24–25).

The idea that we need only one person (husband or wife) to complete us is also nonsense, and not found anywhere in Scripture. (Read ‘The One’ Myth Robs Us Of A Great Relationship)

(Read the introduction of The Dating Dilemma book for free now, or buy the book here.)

Imagine if…

Wider friends, family, and interests not only enrich our lives, but will also make our romantic relationship stronger

We had romantic relationships that were mutually fulfilling, enjoyable and healthy. But we reminded each other that no one person can be the source of all our joy and fulfilment, even though investing in the relationship is also important (Read Part 2 here).

Wider friends, family, and interests not only enrich our lives, but will also make our romantic relationship stronger. They will be stronger because joy and happiness in one area affects every area. And it will take the pressure off one person who must make us happy.

In our current romantic relationship, (or even if we aren’t in one) what’s the one thing we can do to build a friendship or wider interest this week?

Why else is spending time apart so important? Comments welcomed below

Originally posted 9/1/2017