While her best friends bonded over inside jokes and 3am food runs, Juhi, 25, spent most of her time with her boyfriend. They’d met at work, and quickly became inseparable—and not necessarily in the best way. One weekend, when her boyfriend was out of town, Juhi had a sudden realisation: ‘I have literally no-one to hang out with’.
She knew then that she’d gotten stuck in ‘d*cksand’, the dreaded force that sucks you into being so preoccupied with the new person you’re dating, that you ditch your other social connections (oh hey, Connie Britton in Dirty John). It may sound easy to avoid, but
d*cksand is strong and sneaky. You get caught up in the rom-com energy of a budding love story, and the next thing you know, you’ve fallen into it. (Mira, 28, only grasped how deep she’d plunged when she decided to skip her friend’s birthday party to hang with a new match and realised soon after just how upset her friends really were.)
Of course, it makes total sense to spend a tonne of time together in the early stages of a relationship, says US-based author of Friendships Don’t Just Happen!, Shasta Nelson. But when you ditch your gang for a new fling, you lose out on other kinds of intimacy. “Our close bonds—with romantic -partners and friends and family—are the strongest driver of our self-esteem and happiness,” says Ty Tashiro, NYC-based author of -Awkward. Translation: yes, neglect-ing your ladies for a new guy can backfire on everyone involved. Still, it happens—and if you find yourself suddenly uninvited to Sunday yoga or left off girls-night lists (ouch), take comfort in knowing that there are face-saving ways to re-emerge from even the most powerful of d*cksand.
1. Apologise for Being MIA
Plan a meet-up with your friends and start by saying, ‘I’m so sorry I’ve been out of touch. I got caught up in my relationship, and I really miss you,’ suggests -Shasta. Don’t be surprised if your pals are hurt or pissed. Try: ‘Hey, I recognise that I ditched you, and you totally deserve to feel that way’. Owning your -mistake is the first step.
2. Go a Little OTT
Make gestures that prove you’re committed to rehabilitating your friendships. Bring your ride-or-die her favourite cupcake when she’s sick, text a friend before her big job interview, or volunteer to schedule your crew’s monthly hangs. It may feel like you’re trying too hard, but “you’ll need to over-contribute for a few weeks—or longer—to make up for the imbalance that got you here,” says Ty.
3. Bring Your Date With You—When It’s Not Weird
“We need more than one person supporting us in our lives,” says Shasta. And when your friends get to know and like your partner, they’ll be more supportive of your relationship. Set up double dates or open-to-everyone group nights that show you’re making an effort to integrate all aspects of your world. (And, obviously, don’t invite your mate to tag along on those sacred GNOs.)
WHEN Your boo Is the Issue
It may be that you’re not so much falling into d*cksand as being actively sucked into it. If you get the sense that a new partner doesn’t want to share you at all, don’t keep quiet. Say: ‘It seems like when I try to make plans with my friends, you get annoyed.
Is there something going on?’.
If you get pushback,
they might not understand how important
platonic bonds are—and that’s a major red flag, says Ty. Explain how crucial
it is for you to stay close with your friends.
If you’re met with more resistance, it may be time
to rethink the relationship.