How Do You Even Know If You’re Spending Quality Time With Your Significant Other
It’s a common tale: Boy meets girl, they fall madly in love, and after the "honeymoon season" dissipates, what was once considered a Saturday night filled with infinite possibility has fast become a regular "Netflix and chill" calendar date featuring your favourite trackpants and ice-cream.
But though our younger selves watched Hollywood romances with an absolute belief that it was true (guilty), as you grow up, you quickly learn that the initial spark common in any new relationships is unattainable after a while. Ever wondered why though? Psychologist Gemille Cribb from Equilibrium Psychology explains, "In all good long-term relationships the excitement fades because a sense of safety grows. Some people stop making an effort to pay attention to each other. They know their partner is there for them and so they feel they can relax. Because of the length of the relationship they can also assume they know what is going on in their partner's world and what their partner thinks and feels without asking them."
So, in order to combat date night apathy and disconnection, we're taking it back to basics. See below for the 101 of what you need to know about true quality time, whether you're doing it right and why it's crucial in the development of any healthy relationship.
WHY IS QUALITY TIME IMPERATIVE IN A RELATIONSHIP?
"It is important to spend time truly focusing on your partner and creating time to engage in new, interesting or pleasurable experiences to sustain intimacy and give life to the connection. Even if you feel relaxed in the relationship you can give your relationship new sparkle by doing different things together. This gives you new stimulus to grow both as individuals and as a couple and stops you feeling stale, stuck or bored."
HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU'RE MAKING A PROPER CONNECTION?
"If you have spent quality time together you will feel a warmth in your chest, which is indicative of dopamine release. You will feel closer to your partner, more connected and more love towards them. You should have a clear memory of the event indicating you were truly present and paying attention. Generally, you should also feel like the activity, whatever it is, or at least the time together is something you would like to try again."
WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO MAKE SURE QUALITY TIME HAPPENS?
"Making time for quality time should be a priority, and scheduling it ahead of time is generally the only way to ensure both you are your partner are free. Because quality time often needs to be something out of the ordinary, scheduling also helps remind you to think about what activities to do, like booking tickets to see a show or preparing a special meal."
And for the Netflix devout, Cribb says, "watching TV is not intimacy. Although watching something with someone special can enhance your enjoyment of the movie, it does not count as 'quality time' as there you are both focused on the TV and not each other. Try to limit screen time like you would with your children. You need to continually be able to share what is going on for you and feel heard, understood, and supported by your partner to create a lasting bond."