My girlfriend wants to spend more time together than I do.
June 19, 2007 8:06 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend wants to spend more time together than I do.

This must be common. I'm happy seeing her a few days a week and having the rest of the time to myself and she'd prefer us to be together nearly every day. I'm pretty sure I want to get married some day so I know I'll have to live in the same house as her or whoever I end up with, but I'm worried that this will become a big problem for us.

So for those of you with experience in relationships with this kind of difference, how have you dealt with it? Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (17 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, your problem is very common- when two people are in a relationship, they will not always want the same exact things. Learning how to communicate honestly is how you deal with it. Figure out what you want, find out what she wants, mull it over and see if you can come up with a reasonable compromise. The only downside of honest communication is that sometimes the truth is not what you want to hear.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:15 PM on June 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

You've gotta establish boundaries early on. You can always cross over your boundaries as things progress, but its very hard to "reset" or redefine them later with the goal of increasing space.

You don't say how old you are or how long you've been with you s/o... these are semi-important facts when trying to offer comprehensive advice.

One factor to consider is how mature and independent your gf is. If she's needy or immature you may find yourself quickly painted into a corner regarding the amount of attention you have to devote to her. If she's confident and independent than you'll find yourself in a much better place to have a happy relationship. YMMV.

Keep in mind that your feelings may change as well. Today you may be interested in a distant low maintenance relationship, tomorrow you may change your mind and decide you want some crazy, intense, all up in your biznas soul-leeching experience. Again, it depends on your age, frame of mind, etc.

The fact that you're asking this question is encouraging, and be sure to keep an open line of communication with your gf regarding your feelings.

Good luck!
posted by wfrgms at 8:21 PM on June 19, 2007

I've had this problem and second TPS's advice. One thing I found that made a whole mess of difference was also to clearly to communicate that just because I didn't want to see them every day didn't mean I didn't care about them or want to be with them, because sometimes that's the signal distance can send. It's much easier to cope with a lifestyle difference like this when they know you're still in it. Give her as much verbal and physical reassurance as she (or you) can handle.
posted by Roman Graves at 8:25 PM on June 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Depends on how long you two have been seeing eachother. My boyfriend and I "broke up" for about five minutes only 2 months into the relationship because I was being too clingy (everyday hanging out) and he wanted more space. We simply communicated what we expected from each other, and found that we had a middle ground that we could agree on. I now live with him, over a year later, and I still know to respect his space based on what we discussed at the beginning of our relationship.

It takes getting used to, and it take compatability. If it's early in the relationship, you shouldn't be expected to hang out every day all the time. If it's a long-term relationship, then you STILL shouldn't be expected to hang out all the time. Find your happy middle, compromise a bit if necessary (on both sides) and if one or both find this impossible, then you are probably not very compatible.
posted by nursegracer at 8:27 PM on June 19, 2007

To complicate things, the length-of-time if being together will fluctuate over time.

Like everyone else has said, open up those communication channels, and keep them open.

One day, you might want to spend more time together than she does.
posted by porpoise at 8:33 PM on June 19, 2007

I'm a woman, and what you're feeling is completely normal and pretty common. People get to different points in a relationship at different times. The worst thing that could happen is for her to pressure you or make you feel guilty. You can't force someone to be at the same place you are emotionally.
posted by generic230 at 8:36 PM on June 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

You might want to look more at what exactly she's seeking to get out of increased time with you, and why exactly you don't like the idea. If she's just seeking an increased sense of a shared life, and you're just generally introverted, for example, you might be able to make everyone happy by doing common activities while apart, e.g. reading the same books.
posted by scottreynen at 9:05 PM on June 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

The question that arises in my mind is something like this: does she want more time, or does she want more attention? If it's the latter, maybe giving her a quick (sub 5 minute) phonecall when you're not seeing her, or an email or whatever, may help. Just to let her know that you've still got her in mind.

More time ... that'll require negotiation.

Still, talk to her. She may know what she wants, and dialogue is often a useful way to figure oneself out.
posted by ysabet at 9:16 PM on June 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yes, this is common, and it can work -- eg if she has lots of friends she can use her social energies with. But also, sometimes people just have very different needs in this regard. Some people are "my partner is my constant companion" types (I think of them as "Dog People"), and some are "my relationship is just one, very happy, part of my life" types (I think of this as "Cat People"). Spend too much time together, the cat people feel desperate and suffocated. Spend too little time together, the dog people feel forlorn and unloved. This difference in needs has to be carefully negotiated, and sometimes can't be reconciled.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:25 PM on June 19, 2007 [28 favorites]

You may need to do a kind of audit of your social habits, her social habits and how you live your lives.

If you are spending your time apart hanging out with friends, going to bars, devoting yourself to the local baseball team, and generally having a different kind of life than the one you have when you are with your girl, then that is a problem. Especially if she spends the time when you are apart waiting to see you. That wouldn't be a relationship I'd put money on for the long haul.

But if it's that you like to be at home, like to be by yourself, like to just read askMeFi all night, then things may actually resolve themselves in a way if you were to move in together. I have a good friend that I never see because we both like to be at home and don't really like to leave the house, so we actually have to officially alternate who's turn it is to leave the house and go to the other's. When I was first dating my husband I had the same issues of not really wanting to leave my place, not wanting to expend the social energy of even seeing him. I loved him, but he wanted to be together all the time.

But then we moved in together, and seeing him became part of my house. I didn't have to leave, and over time being with him didn't require social energy. And now we can be alone together-- I read a book while he watches a TV show I don't like. You learn to find your personal space in being together. It is worth noting that he will come touch me, bother me and generally demand social contact during commercial breaks, and this bugs me. But whatever, I like being at home and I like being with him.

At the same time. I purposely have a job where I travel around 1 week a month. My husband never goes with me. Partly because I'm working and stressed and would drive him crazy. But also because that time is *my time* It is my little vacation from togetherness. I can leave my clothes how I want, watch what I want on TV, etc. And after 3 days I'm calling every night and missing him like crazy. But I probably wouldn't have a time-intensive hobby that he didn't share in some way, that would violate our social contract.

I suggest texting as a way to stay connected even when apart. Just a little "thinking of you" message is easy to send and can bridge these gaps. However, if you send a text, and then she sends you 12 back, and that isn't what you wanted... that's another sign that you aren't in sync.
posted by Mozzie at 9:51 PM on June 19, 2007 [3 favorites]

Something like this was one of the plotlines in Knocked Up...I did NOT think the sister's husband was being selfish wanting to spend time with his friends or time by himself. I don't know...telling GF "I want to spend the rest of my life with you, but for the next few hours I want to be by myself/with buddies", making it clear that it has nothing to do with her?
posted by brujita at 9:51 PM on June 19, 2007

My now-ex wanted to be with me basically every weekend, Friday to Monday. In principal this was cool with me, but I realized early on that it would stress things out over time, because weekends are my only downtime. I made a simple rule - Fridays are my night to do whatever I want, and seeing her on a Friday is an exception, not the norm. There was one particular time when, for logistical purposes, it was more convenient for her to see me Friday. I already had plans. I said, you can come along, but be prepared to fend for yourself socially here, because I have my own things I need to take care of as part of this social event that don't really revolve around you (going away party for a good friend that she didn't know and would never meet again). She was cool with that, and it all worked out fine as far as that went. We ended up breaking up for unrelated reasons, but I was always glad I set that precedent and stuck with it. I'll be doing the same in the future.
posted by autojack at 10:22 PM on June 19, 2007

My boy, who is a saint, dealt with it like this: At the beginning, when I wanted to be together all the time, he was understanding and we were together a lot; while it was always understood that it was not going to be that way forever, I also knew it was okay for it to be that way when I needed it to. Then I fell in love with a hobby that was time-consuming and made more friends and got a job outside the office, and now we never see each other. We do talk on the phone or IM once a day. We have never been happier.
posted by dame at 6:43 AM on June 20, 2007

She might be wanting to spend more time with you because she doesn't feel enough "togetherness" or "closeness" when you two are in each other's presence. (Those are in quotation marks because I'm talking about her idea of togetherness and closeness, whatever that may be.)

Has she suggested that you seem preoccupied, or that you're not giving her enough attention or the right kind of attention? Has she mentioned anything like "quality time" or some such?

If that's the problem, you could be with her around the clock and she'd still feel under-loved. Find out what kind of attention/activities really let her feel connected to you. It might just be having a cup of coffee with you for 15 minutes in the morning, talking. Or in-person conversations where you two talk (I really mean listen) about how the day went. Or maybe she just feels great when you look into her eyes and say things like, "I love being with you."

I'm thinking that if you spent a little time doing whatever gives her the "he's really into me" feeling, you might not need to add hours on your time card.
posted by wryly at 7:40 AM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

At the beginning, the fact that we were long-distance nearly drove me batshitinsane, because I wanted to see him every day. If you'd asked me then, I would have said that I wanted to spend every waking moment with him.

Now that we live together, I'm glad he goes on business trips and weekend camping excursions without me. It keeps us both from going batshitinsane.
posted by desjardins at 8:44 AM on June 20, 2007

My wife and I were in a situation like yours, wondering WTF was going on, until we discovered Myers-Briggs Personality Types. Turns out that I'm an introvert: I like time alone--it charges up my internal battery. My wife is an extrovert: She likes time with others--it charges up her internal battery. Understanding that fundamental difference made it possible to communicate and deal with it in a loving way. The great thing about Myers-Briggs is that there is no "right" or "wrong" about being introvert or extrovert--it's just the way we are. Recommended book: Please Understand Me by Kiersey & Bates.
posted by exphysicist345 at 4:06 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

seconding exphysicist345. i find myers-briggs to be so incredibly useful for understanding (some of) the differences between people that i sometimes wonder why it isn't a compulsory part of the school curriculum.

if we could all understand the fundamental differences between introverts & extroverts (as described by exp345), or between J's & P's (roughly: planners v go-with-the-flow-ers), a lot of these kinds of tensions could easily be avoided, just by comprehending where the others are coming from.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:29 PM on June 20, 2007

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