I’m blessed with a tight-knit group of friends. I also want to be a fantastic partner to my significant other. How do I balance friendships and a relationship? I’m no expert, but this challenging topic has come up in my past relationships. Frustrated buddies and I agree that it can be hard to walk the line between a love interest and friendships.
Similar to most life lessons, I learned how to balance a relationship and friendships the hard way.
Toward the end of my last relationship, we were rarely spending time together. We allowed life’s distractions to consume our free time, leaving only scattered moments for each other. As you can imagine, spending so much time apart did not help us work through things.
In contrast, my relationship in college ended because she felt like I was somewhat codependent. She believed that I’d stopped pursuing my friendships and ambitions as I solely focused on our relationship. I am not the “Perfect Ben,” as I’ve said many times. But I do know that these failures will help me be a better partner in the future. Here’s what I’ve learned about balancing friendships and a relationship:
1. Different relationship status = different answers
It may seem obvious, but a new person you’re dating does not require the same response as a spouse. A husband or wife needs to be the #1 priority; a new person you’re dating should not replace your friendships.
2. Start with a level playing field
Some of my friends in relationships spend most of their time with their buddies. Others are constantly with their significant others, and I rarely see them. Neither is wrong. However, if one person is always with friends and the other is sitting at home alone every night, then this relationship won’t work very well. Readers who are in a relationship, consider if your S.O. values time with friends on a similar level as you. If your S.O. places a vastly different value on time with friends, consider this a red flag.
In the beginning stages of a dating relationship, I think it’s important to monitor whether your S.O. likes your friends and your friends like your S.O. It can be really hard to navigate your relationship and friendships when nobody likes each other. I’d consider it a red flag. Again, consider what you value.
Talk, text, send smoke signals… Just make sure you and your S.O. communicate your expectations to each other — both about your relationship and how you fill your calendar. Some of my married buddies ask their wives before they do ANYTHING. Does this annoy me sometimes? You bet. However, I understand that it’s an expectation the couple needs to maintain, and it can help my friend out before he commits to a guy’s night on his anniversary.
Personally, I’m not in the camp of receiving approval each time before doing something with my buddies. However, I certainly want to communicate and know what my S.O.’s expectations are for that day, week, and month. Additionally, I continually gauge how much time I’m spending with her versus my friends.
Every couple has different expectations of quality time. Some people like to Netflix and chill. My ideas of quality time involves exploring Denver restaurants and having meaningful conversations. It certainly helps to understand your S.O.’s ideas of quality time.
You’re going to fail your S.O. and fail your friends at certain points. With healthy relationships and friendships, we should be able to communicate with each other, recalibrate the relationship, and move on. I should be able to communicate, “Hey babe, I feel like we haven’t hung out recently. Let me take you out to dinner tonight.” If that fails, buy them something fancy (like a necklace or a pair of boots), and then say you’re sorry.
By Jordan Fuller with Ben Higgins
How do you balance your relationship and friendships?
Photo by NAZpicture