I was out last night with a group of friends and I asked one of them what he would like to read about when it comes to relationships. To my surprise he said “how to maintain your friendships while in a relationship.” What an incredibly valuable topic and one that I hold very dear to me.
It is common when you are in a relationship, wehther it is a new or 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 but our partner 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.
The following three tips will show you to best maintain your friendships while in a relationship:
1) 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 each of them. 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 and/or maintaining independence in your relationship is important and 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.
2) 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 it doesn’t come as a surprise. One excellent way that I have seen this done is using a shared calendar on your smart phones so that when something gets added both people are alerted of it. This keeps both of you on the same page and allows both parties to know what time you will have together and what nights each of you will be out with your friends.
3) Merging Two Worlds: Having time with your partner and time with your friends does not have to be separated. 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 will help deepen your relationship.
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.