I found this out for myself when just two months after we moved in together, my boyfriend started working late-night shifts. Bummer.
Two years later, he still works nights. We're still together, but the adjustment has been a big learning curve, not just for us as a couple, but for me personally. I've spoken to other people in similar situations, and our experiences tend to follow the same patterns.
So if you and your partner are going from spending every second together to barely ever seeing each other, here are four things to expect:
1. You become better at alone time.
I'm not the most outgoing person on the planet, so as a fairly introverted person, I was never completely averse to alone time. But there was no way I was going to be keen on distracting myself with nights out or filling my calendar with new events every day.
Initially, I didn't like the thought of spending every single night alone. The reality quickly set in that there would be no shared dinners each evening, no spontaneous after-work drinks for the two of us and no waking up together in the mornings for a quick coffee before heading to work.
You know what, though? I surprised myself. Slowly but surely, I started to enjoy the time alone and see it as a luxury not everybody is lucky enough to experience regularly.
They say that your own space is key to a happy relationship and personal growth, and I've found that to be completely true.
I still love our weekends and snatched moments of time together, but I've learned to be happy cooking for myself, eating alone, doing things at my own pace and having the time to do the things that are important to me.
2. You become more productive.
When the first few nights of the new job happened, I suddenly had tons of extra time that I didn't know what to do with. At the end of a long workday, most of us just to get home and relax in front of the TV while you catch up with your other half.
With that not being an option, I realized I actually have no desire to watch TV as soon as I get home.
On top of that, there was no pressing reason to rush home straight after work. So now, instead of rushing home, I fill the spare time with things I want to pursue.
Of course, you can still watch Netflix if that's what you want to do. But if it isn't and you have loads more "me time" available that you don't have to feel guilty about spending however you want, a whole new world of possibilities open.
So many people have said there's something they always wanted to try, take more seriously or spend more time on, but they just can't find enough hours in the day to complete. I use these extra hours for exactly those things.
For me, "those things" are horseback riding and a freelance writing career on top of my 8-to-5 job. But it could be anything — take a dance class, learn a new language or go to the gym a few times a week. Maybe it's still Netflix binging new shows your other half would never watch.
There's nobody waiting for you to come home, so you're left with the rather blissful situation of having to do only what you want to do.
3. You learn how to be fully present with your partner.
You're no longer getting to spend every evening together in a passive way doing mundane things, so when you do get to spend time together, you make sure you appreciate it fully.
When I could see my boyfriend every day, it became pretty easy for us to fall into the trap of only actively “doing” things with each other when we were going out with friends or celebrating a special occasion, but obviously, this is a sure-fire way to unhappiness because relationships require actual work.
So, instead of always eating our dinner in front of the TV but never talking, or going out for drinks but being guilty of checking out our Instagram feeds instead of engaging with each other and the people around us, we started to be fully present with each other — at least most of the time.
We became sort of like a like long-distance couple in the sense that we had to condense everything we missed out on into whatever time we did have together. Sure, for us, it was around two days a week instead of two days a month or one week a year, but the principle is similar.
4. You question things. A lot.
It doesn't matter how strong your relationship is, there will be times when you wonder how on earth you're going to make this work.
"What if it's like this forever?" you'll think to yourself when you're sending a quick "Good morning! There's leftovers in the fridge for you" text to your sleeping boyfriend who you haven't actually spoken a word to for two weeks because he's always asleep when you're awake.
For me, the trick was to see this change in working hours as a necessary step for his future and thus, for our future as a couple. This alone was enough for me to keep my doubts to "How will we make this work?" instead of "Will/can we make this work?"
Well, OK… that and the enjoyment I get from binge-watching "Masterchef" after indulging in my favorite hobbies and eating a dinner of all the foods he doesn't like.