How to Make Friends While in a Long Term Relationship

Building outside friendships can be healthy when you are in a long-term relationship.
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Being in a long-term relationship doesn't mean you can't build outside friendships -- in fact you should. Having other friends allows you to continue being yourself, and keep up with a part of you that existed before you became someone's significant other. Though you might have become settled into a routine with your partner, it is easy enough to shake things up and find some new pals.

1 Meet People

If you and your girlfriend spend every Friday and Saturday night on the couch watching reruns of the "X-Files" it will be hard to make friends. On the other hand, if you sign up to do some volunteering, join a club or sporting group, talk to your neighbors or connect with old friends, the possibilities for friendships are endless, as discussed by Margarita Tartakovsky, associate editor of Psych Central, in "A Short & Simple Guide to Finding Friends." Try to meet people with similar passions and hobbies, so that you will have common interests and more easily form a common bond.

2 Start Conversations

When you are at the book club meeting, out walking dogs from the shelter or playing badminton, think about whether you keep to yourself or chat with others. Though you might feel uncomfortable talking to strangers at first, and wish you were on the couch with your partner, force yourself to make a bit of small talk and it will get easier with time. Say something like "Nice day out today, isn't it?" or "Does anyone want to grab a bite to eat after this match?" Be the one to initiate conversations and ask others to do things with you, suggests the Help Guide article "How to Make Friends."

3 Include Your Partner

Just because you are out making new friends, that doesn't mean that you have to leave your girlfriend by the wayside, says clinical psychologist Lisa Firestone in the Women's Health article "Boyfriends and Boy Friends: How to Keep Both." Be upfront about the plans that you are making with other people, and try to include her when you can. For example, if your friends invite you to an afternoon movie, ask if your girlfriend can come along as well. Just be sure that you spend some of your time alone with your friends, or you might run the risk of becoming the guy who never does anything without his girlfriend -- and others might start to get frustrated.

4 Don't Trash Talk

When you are with your new friends, be careful to speak positively about your boyfriend -- never trash talk. If you boyfriend meets your new friends or becomes a part of the group, you risk putting your new friends in the sticky situation of being the go-between in your relationship. Known as a "relationship triangle," these situations are best handled with direct communication, says psychologist Will Meek, in the article "Solving Relationship Triangles" from his website. If your new friends ask about your relationship, try to find positive things to say, such as "We are very happy together" or "I love spending time with him -- but it's great to get out with new friends as well."

Arlin Cuncic has been writing about mental health since 2007, specializing in social anxiety disorder and depression topics. She served as the managing editor of the "Journal of Attention Disorders" and has worked in a variety of research settings. Cuncic holds an M.A. in clinical psychology.