How to maintain your friendships while being in a relationship

Yes, you can balance it all!

08 April, 2024
How to maintain your friendships while being in a relationship

Every time I started dating someone new, I eagerly shared the news with my closest friends. They patiently listened as I excitedly narrated tales of my “not so boring” love life and how I might have found “the one,” gushing over stolen glances and late-night texts. Little did I realise and question—What happens when the honeymoon stage ends, though? Is he all I will ever talk about without me even realising it? How do you maintain strong friendships while cherishing the love you've found?

After navigating several failed relationships, I realised it was my friends who helped me through it all, picking up the pieces whenever necessary, while I—being the hopeless romantic that I am—took them for granted. It's a familiar trap—falling head-over-heels and letting your friendships fall apart in the process. At the end of the day, being a good friend is a lot more than putting in minimal effort, especially when you’re in a relationship. 

So how do we balance it all? Thankfully, there's a way out, and here's how. 

Be present in the moment

This goes beyond just showing up. When you're with your friends, put your phone away, make eye contact, and truly listen. Engage in the conversation and ask follow-up questions. Show genuine interest in their lives and what's going on with them.

Stay in touch with them

Believe me, love can be intoxicating and super addicting. But don't let it lead to self-isolation. It's easy to unintentionally neglect friendships during the initial excitement of a new relationship. If you find yourself feeling guilty about missed calls or texts, it's a sign your relationship might be taking up too much space. 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 away from your relationship. Hit your friends up and send some messages, even if it means casually checking in. Your friends still have their own lives. They go to work and have relationship-related tales that they probably want to unload on you. 

Get out of your house (and do that every now and then)

My partner and I used to enjoy spending time together, which is pretty typical, right? However, as we became more comfortable with each other, I found myself staying home more often. I'd either hang out with him or simply prefer the comfort of my bed. Consequently, I started turning down invitations, all of them. Believe me, your friends pick up on this behaviour quickly, though not everyone will confront you about it. Being aware of this pattern shows that you care. While spending quality time with your partner is wonderful, it shouldn't consume your entire life. So, make sure to hang out with your friends frequently! Your friendships are just as significant as your relationship.

Make plans together! 

Plan outings or gatherings that include both your partner and your friends! This strengthens all your relationships at once. This could be anything from a board game night or a cooking class to a day at the park or a sporting event (I heard pickleball is really popular nowadays). If your partner hasn't met your friends yet, maybe organise a casual get-together beforehand. This can ease any initial awkwardness and allow everyone to connect on a more personal level.

Set boundaries with your partner 

Talk to your partner about the importance of your friendships. Explain how maintaining these connections enriches your life and how you can both support each other's social circles. Discuss how much "alone time" with friends is healthy for both of you. Maybe it's a weekly game night or a solo coffee date with a friend. Agree on boundaries that allow you to nurture both your relationship and friendships without feeling guilty. If they are “not okay with” you hanging out with your friends, trust me, just run for the hills.

Also read: Don’t like your friend’s partner? Here's how to deal with it

Also read: 5 ways to build trust in a new relationship