I was out recently with a girlfriend and we got to talking about relationships and the different things we see unfold whether that be in our own relationships or the relationships of those we love. One of the things she was recently facing was the all too common occurrence of a friend in a new relationship who now no longer has time to connect with her.
It is common when you are in a relationship, wehther it is new or a long term commitment, to spend all of your free time with your partner. While this isn’t unhealthy, per se, it also isn’t exactly healthy. The belief that we don’t need anyone else doesn’t serve our relationship and it doesn’t strengthen our bond. We do in fact, need other people in our lives and making a commitment to see them on a regular basis is vital to the health of our intimate relationship and the overall balance of our lives.
The following three tips will show you to best maintain your friendships while in a relationship:
- Talk About It: Spend some time with your partner discussing what you would like your friendships to look like, how much time you think is best for you to devote to your friendships and what your needs are around being social. Remember that you both may have different needs and that it is important to prioritize both. Perhaps your partner likes to see friends once every few weeks and you like to see your friends at least once or twice a week. Both of you have the right and the ability to meet these needs. If your partner only likes to see his/her friends once every few weeks it doesn’t mean that you have to stay home with him/her all the other nights. Creating independence in your relationship is important and is key to having long lasting fulfilling relationships. If your friendships aren’t currently present in your life, discuss together how you can both strengthen the friendships you have. Realize that you may have to sit in some discomfort of changing the routine, particularly if you are used to spending most nights together. Try to hold each other accountable to this even in those times of discomfort. Taking time to socialize and connect with your friends will strengthen the commitment that you have to one another even if it feels more lonely or undesirable at the beginning.
- Date Night: Just as it is important to have a date night in your relationship where you spend time with just the two of you connecting, it is also important to set a date night with your friends. Make it a priority to have, for example, one night a week with your friends and let your partner know so that he/she can determine what he/she will do during that time so your evening out doesn’t come as a surprise. One excellent way that I have seen this done is couples use a shared calendar on their smart phone and so when something gets added both people are alerted of it. This keeps both of you on the same page.
- Merge The Two Worlds: Having time with your partner and time with your friends does not have to be separate. Instead incorporate one another into your friendship circle and spend time all together as a group. You will get to see a different side of each other that you don’t when it is just the two of you which can help your relationship grow as you learn new things about each other.
Remember that friendships are equally as important as your relationship and that you are allowed to have both. Neither your relationship nor your friendships should come at an expense to the other.