Growing up, many of us were encouraged to find a hobby as an outlet for our energy and self-expression. Research has shown that people with hobbies are less likely to suffer from depression or stress. In addition, these activities can help us feel more relaxed and happier while we practice our communication skills and build relationships. But can hobbies ever be bad?
The short answer is yes, and it's something TikTok creator @YourBestFaceForward spoke about recently in a viral video where she introduces the term "hobby mistress," or when one person in a relationship neglects their partner for their favourite activity. In the clip, the creator discusses how a hobby can not only lead to the breakdown of a relationship, but it can also impact your health.
So what's the verdict on hobbies? Are they good or bad — and can they actually harm your health and relationships? Here's what experts want you to know having a hobby mistress.
What Is a Hobby Mistress?
"A hobby mistress is exactly what it sounds like," YourBestFaceForward shares in her video. It's when a partner "places equal or greater importance" on their hobbies as they do the relationship. She reiterates that there is nothing wrong with having a hobby, but the problem comes in when the time spent on the hobby "goes beyond."
This may look like when your partner has promised you over and over again that they'll set aside time on Sundays to hang out just the two of you, but instead they schedule a recurring Sunday afternoon tee time. Or you consistently ask them to make time for date night, but instead they always seem to sign up for a pickup game of football.
In the now-viral TikTok, the creator explains that a partner may spend so much time on their chosen hobby partly as an avoidance tactic. "They're fleeing to what makes them happy," she says. And this may impact you physically. According to YourBestFaceForward, the resentment from a partner who puts their hobby ahead of their relationship can lead to "repressed resentful feelings in your jaw," which can cause pain. "I wouldn't be surprised if you get the frown lines here," she continues, pointing between her eyebrows. "No one is worth having your face change over," she says before signing off.
How Can Having a Hobby Be Toxic to Your Relationship?
"Having hobbies isn't inherently toxic, but it can lead to an unhealthy relationship dynamic if it's the cause of someone's needs not being met," Jessica Alderson, cofounder and relationship expert at So Syncd in New York, tells POPSUGAR.
"If your partner is spending most of their free time on their hobby, it can lead to feelings of neglect, which can be severely damageing to a relationship," she adds.
Alderson says that having a hobby mistress can also be toxic for the person with the hobby. "It can become their sole source of excitement and joy, causing them to neglect other areas of their life, including the relationship," she warns.
Jennifer Klesman, a therapist at Cityscape Counseling in Chicago and author of "You Can't Stay There: Surviving a Breakup One Moment at a Time," tells POPSUGAR that the need to have personal space from a partner can also lead the person with the hobby to feel stress, which can turn into mutual resentment from "having to deal with emotional crises regularly about their partner feeling neglected," she explains.
Can the Presence of a Hobby Mistress Impact Your Health and Face?
Absolutely. Klesman says being in a relationship with someone with a hobby mistress can negatively affect your overall health. For example, if your partner's hobby often involves them staying out late, you may find yourself waiting up for them and experiencing sleep loss. It also can also spark feelings of negative self-worth regarding being too available for someone who is dedicating time elsewhere, Klesman says.
What's more, when one partner has a hobby mistress, it can potentially change the neglected partner's physical appearance, Alderson says. "If your emotional needs aren't getting met in a relationship over a prolonged period of time, it can impact your face structure," she notes. "Essentially, your face structure can change due to the stress and pain that's resulting from feeling unappreciated and unimportant."
She explains, "When you are constantly carrying around this emotional pain, your body can start to reflect it in the form of physical changes, such as a tense jaw and frown lines. It's essentially your body's way of dealing with negative emotions."
What Should You Do If Your Partner Has a Hobby Mistress?
For starters, you should not keep quiet about this. "While your partner should show awareness of your emotional needs, they can't read your mind," Alderson shares. "It isn't fair to expect them to change their behaviour if you don't let them know that it's bothering you."
She acknowledges that "it can be difficult to have the conversation" when you're worried about hurting feelings or rocking the boat, but "it's necessary if you want to work through things together and build a healthy, fulfiling relationship."
After addressing concerns, Klesman suggests a few things you can do to move forward, including creating a structure or schedule together or finding a hobby both of you can enjoy. However, "at the end of the day, the partner without the hobby is just looking to be heard and given attention to," Klesman notes. Nourishing both a hobby and a relationship "just requires forethought and intention to plan your time better," she adds.
If your partner is unwilling to make a compromise that prioritises both your happiness and theirs, as well as the health of the relationship, then you may have to assess whether this is right person for you.