It can be tough to balance your friendships and your relationship, but it’s incredibly important. We’ve all had that friend. The one who shows up with their significant other without ever bothering to warn you they were coming. Or the one who just can’t seem to make plans now that they’re in a relationship. I just experienced the ultimate version of this when I went to meet a friend for what I thought was a one-on-one. When I arrived to meet him, just his girlfriend was there and he was running late. I don’t even dislike his girlfriend — I just thought I was having time with my friend.
“Maintaining relationships and friendships can be easy breezy or they can be incredibly difficult to impossible,” dating coach and founder of Maze of Love, Chris Armstrong, tells Bustle. “This will always depend on three basic things: 1) Your friends’ view of your partner and vice versa; 2) How much time you spend with your friends now versus time you spent with them before the relationship and 3) Your friends’ perception of your care factor across any of these two areas.” Now, obviously you can’t necessarily control number one, but you can control the other two. And it’s really, really important.
Friendships are vital to your happiness. And as much as your romantic relationship may be a priority in your life, that doesn’t mean you should let your friendships slide. You may be so wrapped up in your partner during the honeymoon period that you don’t notice it, but being attached at the hip just isn’t sustainable. So it’s important to make sure your relationship isn’t damaging your friendships.
Here are seven signs to watch out for, because being in love is no excuse to leave your close friends behind:
1. They Seem Concerned
It’s easy to get really defensive about your partner and your relationship. You may find yourself getting irrational if you sense any level of criticism— try to be rational. If your friends are concerned that you’re absent or aren’t being yourself, remember that they want you to be happy and want you to be in a good relationship. If they’re concerned your relationship is changing you, it’s because they’ve noticed a distance. Hear them out.
2. You Can’t Remember The Last Time You Saw Your Friends Solo
Don’t be that friend. I love my girlfriend’s friends, and it makes me so happy that she gets along with mine. But I don’t want her there every single time I see my friends — I want time with just them. If you’re not getting that quality time with your friends sans your partner, it may be time to re-think how you’re spending your time with them.
3. You Don’t Know What’s Going On In Their Lives
If you meet up with a friend and realize you didn’t even know she was dating that person she’s now dumped or about a promotion at work, your relationship may be taking up too much of your time.
4. Your Partner Resents You For Spending Time With Them
This can be a sign of a controlling partner. Your partner probably isn’t going to straight up forbid you from seeing your friends— that would be extreme — but they can make it difficult for you. If they’re passive aggressive when you get back late or make you feel guilty for not including them, then something’s off. If you feel like you’re choosing between friendships and your relationships, there’s interference there that just isn’t fair on you.
5. Your Friends Stop Relying On You
Part of not knowing what is going with your friends can mean that they start pulling back. You stop becoming the person they call, or maybe even being invited to things. Try not to get defensive and assume “everyone is jealous” of your relationship. If they’ve stopped inviting you places it’s probably because you’ve been so absent that they assume you don’t want to come. It’s time to do some work into repairing that friendship.
6. You Avoid Replying To Them Because It’s Been Too Long
You haven’t replied to a text or an email because there’s too much to say, but the longer you leave it the more the pressure builds up until suddenly you’ve gone four months without replying to an email. That Netflix marathon with bae will still be there after you reply.
7. You Feel Alone
When all the excitement of being in a new relationship wears off and you realize you haven’t kept up with your friends, you’re going to feel it. You may be floating on cloud nine for the first few months — or even longer— but when you come back to earth you’ll realize your relationship has taken a toll on your friendships. But it’s not the end of the world. Reach out, apologize, and make more time for them. Your friends will understand — that’s what they’re there for.
Originally posted on Bustle