Everyone knows that getting into a new relationship will take up more of your time. When you’re a bit older this makes more sense, given that the end goal is usually to spend the rest of your lives with each other. However, when you’re a teenager, it just means less time spent with your friends. You only have a certain amount of spare time, and if you completely prioritise your partner, it might mean pushing your friends away completely. Unless by some sort of miracle you end up with this partner (and even then, it can’t just be you two forever – you both need other friends in your life), more often than not you’ll break up with them, and when this happens, if you have no friends left, who will you turn to?
This sadly happens more often than you’d think. For example, see this guardian article: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2010/sep/15/price-love-close-friends-relationship#maincontent. So, I’ve come up with a list of dos and don’ts for you if you wish to avoid this happening:
- DO spend as much time with your friends as your partner.
You don’t have to spend as much time with every individual friend as your partner. But if you have 5 close friends (and you don’t hang out all as a group), make sure you spend 10% of your spare time with them. If each friend gets 10% of your time, you still get to spend half the time with your friends and the whole other half with your partner. It’s great for you to spend some time away from your partner because it means the time you spend with them is more special, and it means you still spend valuable time with your friends. Simple!
- DO bring your partner into your friendship group.
This might be trickier if you have a tight circle of girls and you want to introduce your boyfriend as everyone’s new BFF, and the same vice versa. But the last “Do” is so much easier on everyone if you can spend time with both your partner and all your friends; win-win! (Although this is potentially risky as it may make the break-up tougher if each of your friends all become really good friends, it’s probably worth it for the time you are together).
- DO prioritise special events with your friends as well as your partner.
Everyone is going to understand if it’s a special anniversary with your partner and you aren’t available to meet up. But if you and your mates have been planning a special day or getaway, or going to a concert to see a band you all love, or a big party or dinner, for a while, don’t see your partner instead. You see them all the time; you can get a takeaway and watch Netflix another time, but you can’t have that special event with your friends again.
- DON’T only make an effort with your friends when it suits you.
If you never contribute to the WhatsApp group but message to see who’s around when you and your partner have a big fight, your friends will understandably get annoyed. If you spend your whole time with your partner, and only use your friends to still get invited to parties or post on social media to show how popular you are, they’ll notice, and you’ll stop getting invited to parties and gatherings. No one wants a friend they can only rely on a small amount of the time, or maybe even only when they aren’t in relationships. They’ll know you aren’t a true friend, and will discount you from their life pretty quickly. If you do want to keep them as a friend for life, you have to make an effort all the time, whether in a relationship or not.
- DON’T just talk to your friends about your partner.
Everyone fights, and your friends should be invested in your life. If you have a massive fight with your partner, it’s obviously fair to talk about it; same goes for if they ask how your partner is. But just as they are invested in your life, you should be invested in theirs. It might be tempting to constantly talk about your partner, or relate the conversation back to your partner and your relationship. You might do this a couple times, because everyone does in the honeymoon period, and good friends should understand this, so don’t worry about making a mistake. But if you’re doing it constantly, your friends will absolutely notice, and probably won’t want to talk to you anymore, because it’s just, well, boring for them. They’re your partner, not theirs.
- DON’T prioritise your friends over your partner.
Friendships can be just as damaging to relationships as relationships can be to friendships. It is of course important to keep your friends close, to keep spending time with them, and to keep on making an effort with them. However, if you’re going to have a partner, you need to commit to them too. The 50/50 split time with your friends and partner works both ways – what’s the point in having a partner if you’re not going to spend any time with them? It’s sensible to keep your besties close, but if you make it obvious you prioritise mates over dates, this is going to cause problems with your relationship. As always, everything in moderation.
Like I said, you’ll probably make mistakes. But if you go in knowing these Dos and Don’ts, and try to stick to them, and learn from any mistakes you do make, you should be able to balance your relationship with your friends easily. Because what is life without love, and what is life without friends?