This Doctor Has Studied Couples for Decades—This Is What Often Splits Them Up


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When you think of relationship deal breakers, incessant arguing, financial issues, or infidelity likely come to mind. But in the words of Terri Orbuch, a relationship expert, professor, therapist, and best-selling author of Finding Love Again, many romance killers are much more insidious.

“For nearly three decades, I’ve had a front-row seat to thousands of relationships,” she writes for Self. “Today, here’s what I know for sure: Small stuff is a big deal.” Orbuch has been spearheading a long-term relationship study funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1986, which has allowed her to identify the most common, crippling relationship patterns (and how to stop them before they start).

First on her list? Not having enough “me time.” “Many couples say that space or giving each other plenty of time for themselves is the single most important reason they think their relationship survived,” she explains. “Time alone gives partners those vital moments to process thoughts, pursue hobbies, and develop new topics to talk about! Partners who pursue their own hobbies, interests, and friends tend to be happier than those who depend on each other for everything.”

She recommends talking to your partner about the benefits of me time, while still emphasizing that you want couple time, too. “Don’t keep secrets, and share with your partner some of the fun or interesting things that happened when you were on your own,” she explains.

Head over to Self for the rest of Orbuch’s relationship deal breakers, and share your thoughts on me time below!