Relationships

If You Wish You Spent More Time With Your Partner, This Is For You

Five questions experts say you should consider.

By Christy Piña and Genevieve Wheeler
Updated: 
Originally Published: 

Does it ever feel like you and your partner are not spending enough time together in your relationship? Maybe you both have crazy work schedules, or maybe you live on opposite sides of a city. Or maybe (maybe!) you’re just feeling like, “I want to spend more time with my boyfriend then he does” — which is definitely not a fun way to feel. Whatever the case, if it seems like your S.O. has been physically or emotionally distant lately, it’s probably time to have a chat.

I don't know about you, but when I start dating someone new, I want to devote every possible moment to getting to know them, learning all the little things about this fun, new person in my life. Once the honeymoon phase is over and the relationship develops into something more serious, though, you and your partner have to figure out what you consider to be the right amount of time spent together. Which, admittedly, can be a tricky tightrope to walk.

If you're not really sure what constitutes "enough" time spent with your partner (or if you’re afraid you might not be on the same page about what that means), we’ve brought in some experts to help you crack the code. Enter Brianna Rader, relationship educator and founder of sex and relationships app Juicebox; life coach Nina Rubin; and dating coach and host of The Dates & Mates Podcast Damona Hoffman, here to share five questions to ask if you’re currently thinking, “Ugh, my boyfriend doesn't spend quality time with me.”

Oh, and if you’re wondering how to have a difficult conversation with your partner, sex and relationships therapist Dr. Lauren Fogel Mersy, PsyD, LP, has some tips to help you navigate that chat (without turning it into a massive fight).

01

How Important Is Quality Time In Your Relationship?

xijian/E+/Getty Images

First things first: you and your partner need to decide just how important quality time really is to each of you. For some, spending quality time together is imperative. For others, it’s less crucial than, say, exchanging kind words or gifts. How you want your partner to show love (and how you show them love in return) all boils down to your love language. Rader tells Elite Daily that when you and your partner have different love languages (if one of you values quality time, for instance, while the other values words of affirmation), it can easily make you feel like you aren’t spending enough time together.

"Some people express their love by spending quality time while others may show their feelings through touch, words of affirmation, service, or gifts," Rader explains. "If quality time is more important for you, it doesn't mean there is a problem. However, it's important to talk about how you may express your love differently, so the other person is aware."

Before diving into that conversation, though, Rubin recommends asking yourself, “Is it literally not enough quantitative time… or is the time not quality, connecting time?”

“How do you decide which you need more of?” Rubin continues. “Do you and your partner connect, laugh [and] enjoy each other's company? Or are either of you feeling the 'shoulds' when making plans?"

If you decide something is, in fact, off, remember that your perspective is completely valid. Instead of attacking your partner, though — or spiraling while thinking, “my boyfriend doesn’t want to spend time with me” — be sure to approach the conversation with a cool headspace. Prep a few points you’d like to discuss in advance and try taking some deep breaths, too.

“Practice deep belly breathing just before you talk to help regulate your nervous system and keep you out of the fight/flight/freeze response," Mersy says.

02

Should You Make Plans For Your Future Together?

Let’s say you’ve assessed just how important quality time is to you and your partner. The next question to ask is: should I be making future plans with my boyfriend (or girlfriend)?

"Depending on your stage in the relationship, this could just look like making plans for the weekend," Rader says. "However, as the relationship progresses you may want to start planning trips together in advance. If you both have busy schedules, making plans in advance can be an incredibly important way to prioritize your relationship. If you are both spontaneous, you may not make set plans, but you are still likely planning to spend time together even if the agenda isn't set."

If you struggle to make future plans with your partner, you're not alone. I've always been tremendously hesitant to plan something way ahead of time. (Even after being in a relationship for over a year, there were times I felt like planning something just a month in advance was too aggressive.) I always felt like my relationships could suddenly end one day — I didn't like planning into the future because I didn't know if my relationships would even make it that far. (It's still something I'm working on.)

If you feel like you’re more excited to make future plans with your S.O. than they are with you, try talking to them about it — knowing how to communicate with your partner is key after all, right? Just make sure you’re mentally and physically ready for the chat.

"Make sure your basic needs have been addressed before you talk," Mersy says. "Being too tired or hungry can negatively impact the conversation."

03

How Often Would You Two Ideally See Each Other?

David Espejo/Moment/Getty Images

People are busy, I get it. But making time for your S.O. is also crucial to making your relationship work. "If you are in a long-distance relationship, you may not be able to see your significant other each week," Rader says. "[So], you'll want to find uninterrupted time to chat at least weekly."

If you're not in a LDR, however, Rader says, "It's typical to get together at least on a weekly basis." And if your partner can't find a couple hours a week to spend with you, it's possible they may not be prioritizing your relationship.

If you want to raise this issue with your partner, Mersy suggests turning to Dr. John Gottman’s “Four Horsemen” of fighting — criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling — as a reminder of what not to do.

"Avoid using the Four Horsemen and instead, implement their antidotes," Mersy says.

04

Should You Talk To Your Boyfriend Or Girlfriend Every Single Day?

All right, so. Let’s say you’re seeing your partner weekly, but they’re often radio silent in the time in between. Is it bad if you don’t talk to your boyfriend everyday? Is it necessary for your girlfriend to text you constantly? Absolutely not, especially early on in your relationship.

“If you want [to get] off the emotional rollercoaster of the first phase of a relationship, make sure you’re still getting value from your hobbies, work, friends, family, and any personal practices that you enjoyed before you met,” Hoffman says.

05

Which Events Should You Celebrate With Your Boyfriend Or Girlfriend?

blackCAT/E+/Getty Images

Last but not least, ask yourself: Which events should I celebrate with my boyfriend or girlfriend?

"One way to show you prioritize the relationship is by making sure you are both there when it's important," Rader says. "This could mean being there to celebrate a birthday or showing up for a family event."

If it was up to me, my boyfriend and I would go to every single one of our families' events together, but I understand that's not always possible or reasonable. "It's not realistic to be there for every milestone, so it's important to discuss which events are important, so your partner knows when to make the extra effort," Rader explains. To do this, Rubin suggests you “simply invite your partner to do things with you. Lead by action!”

“People like to feel appreciated rather than nagged! Start the conversation with your hope, rather than a slam about what your partner is doing wrong. Use 'I' statements. Don't pout, nag, play the victim, or be defensive. Stand in your wishes to connect more."

Experts:

Brianna Rader, relationship educator and founder of sex and relationships app Juicebox

Nina Rubin, life coach

Dr. Lauren Fogel Mersy, PsyD, LP, sex and relationships therapist

Damona Hoffman, dating coach and host of The Dates & Mates Podcast