Hmmmmm! I thought it was about time to discuss and analyse the concept of separate-togetherness. Either you want to be with somebody in a relationship, or you don’t! If only life was black and white with no fifty shades in between.
So, how much togetherness do you share? Every other night, weekends, when diaries have been synchronised to get a match within the next four weeks? All I know is that if you are truly in love with somebody, wouldn’t you want to spend every waking and also sleeping moment with them, whenever possible?
So what about your ‘get out of jail free card’ time, maintaining a balance of seeing your friends, doing your own thing and having your independence also. Where does that fit in, is that the separate element?
I believe the whole concept of separate-togetherness can work really well, if the right conditions are met.
Recently a friend of mine was seeing somebody … they had been friends for almost two years, started dating on and off but because of the geographical restrictions of living apart could only meet up on average every five weeks. Yes they spent memorable occasions, Valentines, birthdays etc. together, however they both had independent lives, friends and professional commitments in different countries.
After they separated from the confines of a relationship, my friend told me that every five weeks or even more was too much time apart. In the interim the effort of maintaining a relationship by phone, text or MSN was all too much. Furthermore, every time they separated from a togetherness weekend, it would hurt knowing that there would be weeks in between. I suppose you could ask was that a relationship? Well, too them it was!
I have encountered over the years all extremes of separate-togetherness. I have friends in relationships where togetherness is on a day-to-day basis, but they would argue they are quite separate. All consuming togetherness friends in relationships. Friends where their husbands or partners work away for months on end with very limited togetherness, but it works! And others that are involved in casual relationships …yes, friends with benefits where they see each other as and when, but it makes the togetherness time more titillating.
The point is the emphasis on time spent apart and together cannot be standardised within a relationship. There is no magic formula or equation that can calculate the perfect amount of time required to maintain a balance.
Some people in a relationship will spend every minute of time together. They will lock themselves away in a bubble protected from the outside world, just the two of them. The problem is it’s like Willy Wonka and his Chocolate Factory ……nobody is ever seen going in and nobody ever comes out! This can be a little suffocating because “just the two of us” has to supply not only the love, support and dynamics, but also all the additionalities and accessories that only friends can offer.
In my opinion, and you know I always have to formulate one, this cannot be healthy. How can you bring new and exciting topics of conversation, interests or anything to the table if it is just the two of you? Being apart is what makes the time together more special (just not 5 weeks or more).
So if there is no formula, what is the answer? For me personally, it would have to be mutual trust and respect of each other’s time and an investment of equal time into the relationship. If it becomes an effort to see each other or even communicate with each other than alarm bells should be ringing.
If there are doubts and jealousy because of friends and time required outside of the relationship, questions should be asked. If one person only initiates the togetherness time, step back and evaluate, is this what you really want?
The trick for women in this separate- togetherness conundrum is never come across as being too needy or reliant in a relationship. You have to appreciate that men are rather primal and have to have their own space and time to do male bonding type things. In balance, we girls also have to have our space and do cocktails and catch-ups.
All relationships are different and in terms of this separate-togetherness formula, what works for one doesn’t necessarily tick the boxes for another. In any new relationship you have to agree certain unwritten laws about quality time together, but equally independent time apart. You have to make the effort to communicate and not feel threatened or jealous of each other’s friends or lifestyles. But, the most important thing is to value what you have, do not take each other for granted and enjoy the time you have together for as long as it is sustainable.
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