The secret to a happy relationship has been revealed – and it may surprise you

Hint: it's not exercising, cooking or cleaning together

You may think that starting a hobby together, joint holidays and phoning each other five times a day will keep the spark going in your relationship – but according to new research, it’s actually spending enough time apart that could ensure happy coupledom.

According to a study by TeamSport, which interviewed 1000 UK adults in relationships, British couples spend far too much time together, with over half of people in a relationships spending only three nights a month with their friends.

Spending enough time with our friends is ‘crucial’ to a happy relationship, according to dating experts – but it seems it’s not high up on our list of priorities, with less than a third of people agreeing that taking time out to bond with their friends makes their relationship stronger.

Only one in ten people said they’d like to spend more time with their friends – while another 10% said they feel more tense and frustrated when they don’t spend enough time alone.

Interestingly, a greater number of men than women said that spending too much time with their partner resulted in more arguments.

‘As a nation, we are guilty of wanting to spend way too much time with our partners, and although being in a relationship is one of the greatest feelings in the world, it’s also important that we let our partners breathe and allow them have a life of their own,’ dating coach Suzie Parkus says. ‘Time spent apart is just as valuable as time spent together. Relationships don’t mean you have to be inseparable. The test of a good relationship is being able to be apart and nothing changing.’

Psychotherapist Hilda Burke agrees, saying: ‘“No relationship is perfect, but in order to grow and develop as individuals it’s crucial that we respect our partners friendships and individual interests.’

‘Often many people’s happiness relies solely on their partner too, which isn’t healthy. Depending on another person to fulfil all of our needs can often mean setting ourselves up to feel disappointed and resentful.

‘Besides,a person’s independence and the fact that they have different tastes and interests is often what attracted us to our partners them in the first place.’

She advises that couples should arrange dedicated time each week to see friends by themselves, or do something they love on their own, to make sure individuals remain individuals, with their own sense of identity and self-worth intact.

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