'I've Seen My Partner 6 Times In 3 Months': How To Deal With Totally Different Schedules

Can a relationship survive if you rarely spend time together?
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The busyness of life can make it difficult to schedule time to see people, including your partner. Between work, seeing your family and friends, and having other priorities, making time to see your significant other can be hard, especially if your schedule clashes. In a new relationship – when you’re still figuring things out – this can be even trickier.

This is the case for this week’s reader, Maria.

“My boyfriend and I have been together for three months. When we’re together it’s always amazing and we get along so incredibly well, but it’s the getting together part that’s been difficult,” Maria says.

“We live 15 minutes away from each other but I work a 9-5 and he works overnights, as well as having children from a previous relationship that he’s only ever able to see on the weekends.

“In the three months we’ve been together, we’ve only physically seen each other six times and that’s not enough for me. I can absolutely see a future with him which is a rare thing for me to say about anyone, but I’m afraid that if we can’t work through this scheduling issue, the only option left for us will be to part ways and I absolutely don’t want that.”

Lack of quality time can have huge effects on a relationship, so how should Maria deal with this?

Counselling Directory member James Eve says many couples can struggle to spend quality time together – even those who live in the same household.

“But relationships need an investment, in order to develop and sustain a bond and connection,” she says. “It sounds like you are understandably concerned with the lack of physical interaction and what this signifies for you.”

How can couples navigate a relationship when their schedules clash?

“Time, as they say, is one precious commodity we can’t get more of. With couples on different schedules, it can be hard to find time to spend together with all the demands of work, family, finances… the list goes on,” Eve says.

“But it isn’t just time that is important, but also the quality of that time. Making time for each other is a necessity for a healthy relationship and therefore should be prioritised and scheduled like any other thing of importance.”

Eve suggests having a shared calendar as this can help you structure time together more effectively. “Having regular / scheduled date nights are a great way to earmark time to reconnect and reinvigorate a relationship,” he adds.

Counselling Directory member Kim Lord says trying to navigate a relationship when you are both busy with other commitments “may feel impossible”, and it’s natural to worry about how you can develop a fledging relationship with very little time together.

“Bulldozing in with a conversation about how someone makes changes to their life can sometimes cause tension if not approached in a gentle way,” Lord adds.

“Try not to be critical and avoid statements such as ‘you don’t make time for me’, or ‘you’re always busy’, as this can lead to your partner becoming defensive, or digging his heels in.”

If this couple can’t find time to spend together should they break up?

Eve asks Maria: “How does this future you imagine look like if things continue as they are? How is any relationship sustainable if there isn’t an investment of some kind (of which time is fundamental component).”

“It sounds like you have lots of talking to do with one another to figure out what you both want. With more information and a clearer understanding of what you a both willing to do to increase the time you spend with someone; you can make an informed decision whether this relationship continues or not. Wishing you all the best in whatever you decide.”

Lord adds: “It may not be easy to carve out more time together, but it is rarely impossible.

“If your partner is not receptive to discussing these concerns, then you may want to consider if this is the relationship for you. For now perhaps, enjoy the time that you do have and you may find that you both naturally make more room for each as the relationship flourishes.”

Love Stuck is for those who’ve hit a romantic wall, whether you’re single or have been coupled up for decades. With the help of trained sex and relationship therapists, HuffPost UK will help answer your dilemmas. Submit a question here.

Rebecca Zisser/HuffPost UK