How to Date Someone and Keep Your Friends
Yes, you can do both!
Your friendships are important because they keep you sane. They are the bonds that have been in place before you started dating your current partner. These connections look different depending on your origin story. They are your childhood best friends, your college sorority sisters. The ones who know you so well that they can read your mind before you even have to open your mouth, those are your true friends. No matter how you met, you know that they’re always going to have your back.
Saying that I love my friends is an understatement. They are the support system that carries me through my victories and wipes away my tears during my downfalls — my chosen family. But a realization I had recently is that I tend to replace my existing friendships with the comforts that my romantic partner provides. Since your partner is always there for you and truly gets you, it can seem like you don’t need to rely so heavily on friendships. We all know what it is like to feel like a burden.
The thing about maintaining a friendship is that it relies on effort from both parties. You need to check-in with those you care about, make time for them. I’m guilty of waiting around for a text message, while my friends are probably doing the same. Unlike relationships, there is no romance to fill in the gaps. There is either a great balance and a healthy friendship, or one person feels that they are used for convenience. You know how crappy it is to get left on read.
After meeting my partner, I shared the news with all of my closest companions — smitten doesn’t describe it. Meeting a perfect partner is one of the things you want to share with them. Duh! Gushing about your love life to your closest friends has a way of making the relationship feel even more magical. When I started dating my partner, my friends listened to me rant on and on about how I hoped she felt the same way. What happens when the honeymoon stage ends, though?
After navigating through several failed relationships, I noticed that I was always the one left to pick up the pieces, so I knew that something had to change. Up until my current relationship (my only successful one), I used to wonder if there was anything I could do. Good news — there is! This is advice that you can follow, too. Here are the four tips that helped me succeed in love.
How to Be More Present
So, you’ve been dating your partner for some time now. Your relationship is wonderful, as you tell everyone in your immediate area. This is what I did, anyway. You go on multiple dates each week, spend all of your free time together. They even know exactly how you take your morning cup of coffee — this is one of the things that hooked me in. Everything is just so perfect!
You start to pass up chances to hang out with your friends because you are too enamored with your beau. They’ll understand, right? The weeks turn to months and before you know it, you need to scroll down for several seconds before you can find your best friend’s message thread on your phone. I’m one of those “immerse yourself completely in love” types similar to the above, but I don’t do it purposefully.
This type of self-isolation can take away from your friendships. Hear me out, love is intoxicating. However, during this time of your elation, you are completely ignoring other people who care about you. If you have ever felt guilty for ignoring calls and text messages, you should know that your relationship is taking up too much of your time. As I became more secure in my relationship, I was honest with myself and asked if I was still being a good friend.
Get back in touch with your friends! They want to hear from you, and it will do you some good to have your own space. Because friendship is mutual, you should also be sending some “how are you?” messages. Your friends still have their own lives. They go to work and have relationship-related tales that they probably want to unload on you.
You don’t need to think about this as space from your partner. The two of you are dating, and you share a bond unlike any other. This is something I normally remind myself of when I question if I am being fair. If they are “not okay with” you hanging out with your friends, run for the hills.
How to Get Involved with Your Friends’ Lives Again
You think the world revolves around you. Well, you might not actively think this way, but your actions say otherwise. Because you still manage to do a decent job of keeping in touch with your friends, you are still being good to them. You rationalize. Hello, this has been me on more than one occasion. The truth is, the bare minimum isn’t worth celebrating.
When you do communicate, the topics are always the same — your love life, the latest thing your partner did/said, and things you do together as a couple. Your friends might want the juicy details sometimes, but that isn’t all your friendship should revolve around! I try to mix it up by talking about anything other than love. It can even strengthen the relationship because it keeps a sense of privacy between you and your partner.
You became friends because you had things in common; keep seeking them. For your friendships to stay successful, you need to learn how to craft a balance. Talk about your relationship a little, but don’t go overboard. No one wants to hear you go on about your relationship for hours at a time. You need to allow the conversation some room to breathe.
If you feel like your friends are pulling away from you, check the reason. Talk to them. I’ve had honest conversations with my friends that involve asking them if there is anything that I can do to become a better friend. Your friends might feel like they get put on the back burner, so don’t be surprised if they do give you some pointers; this shows growth. I have to ask myself: “If they treat me the same way as I treat them, how will I feel?”
How to Get the Heck Out of Your House
You and your partner love to spend time together. As you grow more comfortable with each other, you find yourself staying at home often. Mutual friends invite you to hang out, but you are finding your bed a lot more appealing. So, you decline the invitations — all of them. Guilty. As. Charged. My partner and I both work from home. There is seldom a reason to leave the house because we have most of what we need between the two of us. Plus, I thrive through routines.
Believe me, your friends notice this behavior right away, but not everyone is going to call you out on it. Having awareness shows that you care. Spending quality time with your partner is great, but it cannot be all that your life entails. The more time that you spend together, the more likely you will be to lose your sense of identity. After being in a relationship for a while, you often hear people admit that they don’t know “who they are” anymore. This is why.
Your interests are kept alive as a garden is kept alive. Water it; tend to it. This includes your friendships, too. Just as you made an effort to get cozy with your love, you also need to make an effort for your friends. Show them that you still care just as much as you always have. For me, an introvert, this doesn’t always involve going out on the town. Catching up with a phone call in the other room, or through a video chat, can have the same effect, especially in today’s society. You’ll be happy that you took the time to do it.
Being a good friend is a lot more than putting in minimal effort. I know it is tempting to devote your time to your friends for a little while, only to run back home to get back in bed. This is especially true when you know that your partner is free and waiting for you to get back. You’ll reconvene soon enough especially if you live together! Independence is a great thing for both of you. It makes your love stronger when you get to spend quality time together again.
How to Reintegrate with Your Friend Group
A strong friend group will become noticeably weaker without one of its members present. I never considered myself a particularly important member of my friend group, but someone has since told me that I’m kind of like the glue that holds it together. If you find yourself passing up opportunities that you wouldn’t dare miss in the past, consider if you have your priorities right. This is the “new you,” but it doesn’t have to mean dismantling your friend group. You’re devoted to your partner; they get that. Turning your back on your friends isn’t balanced, though.
Your friends reach out, tell you they miss you. Truth is, you miss them too. Listen to these instincts! Being with your partner feels so great, though. You don’t want to miss anything when, in fact, you are missing out on a lot in the friendship realm. I become aware of my absence in my friend group when I realize I am the last to know new information — this isn’t a great feeling. Go out with them once in a while. You’ll enjoy yourself!
If you want, you can merge your relationship and your friendships. Hell, they can even call up their friends. All of you can hang out together, forming an even stronger chain. After making it official with my partner, I made sure to introduce her to my best friends as soon as I could. This was important to me. I was also able to meet the people closest to her because she also valued the merge. When you can merge friend groups, this shows that the relationship is probably going to last for the long haul. Bringing two groups of people together isn’t the easiest thing to do!
If you identified with any of the descriptions, don’t panic. I have. It isn’t too late to salvage your friendships and keep your like-minded comrades close by. Remember that a great relationship depends on how much you are your authentic self, not how much you must change to fit his needs.