Balancing Act: How to Balance Your Friends and Your Relationship

Sometimes romantic relationships can get in the way of friendships.
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It is easy to get lost in a new romance and find that you have hardly seen or spoken to your friends. This isn’t uncommon -- a new relationship means you may lose two close friends, according to research led by anthropologist Robin Dunbar. This is because the average person has about five people they are close to at a time. A new romantic partner takes up the emotional attention that you would devote to two of your close friends. But there are ways to keep both your close friends and your new romantic partner.

1 The Importance of Balance

A healthy romantic relationship is one where the couple can be together and also enjoy activities with others separate from the relationship. Taking time apart to nurture old friendships is healthy because the couple has time to maintain their individual identities outside of the relationship. Your close friends will also be there to talk about the relationship's ups and downs, whether to lend an ear or offer advice

2 Prioritize and Schedule

In her book “Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend,” psychologist and friendship expert Irene S. Levine stresses the importance of face-to-face meetups with friends. Although you can text, talk on the phone and communicate online, spending time in person can help nurture the friendship in ways that an instant message can’t. When you are hanging out with friends, encourage your boyfriend to plan a hangout with his friends at the same time. You can schedule study dates or movie nights with your friends on days when your boyfriend is busy.

3 Live in the Moment

When hanging out with your friends, it can be easy to be on the phone, texting your boyfriend, thinking about your last date or the next time you can hang out with him. It is important not to take your friends for granted when you are with them. Be present and embrace the time together. Being mindful of the present helps you fully appreciate the different relationships you have and how they fulfill you in different ways.

4 Arrange Mixed Hangouts

Plan a group hangout. This could include you, your girlfriend, your friends and her friends. It may be awkward at first, but it can be a good opportunity to hang out with everyone you care about at the same time. It is also a chance for everyone to meet. For a first get together, choose an activity like bowling or a movie night and keep the conversations light.

Sarah Casimong is a Vancouver-based writer with a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She writes articles on relationships, entertainment and health. Her work can be found in the "Vancouver Observer", "Her Campus" and "Cave Magazine".