Relationships are exciting, especially in the very beginning.
I will not soon forget the excitement I felt on a day-to-day basis when I was first dating my husband. Every time he texted me something sweet and every time he called me on the phone, I felt a burst of excitement in my heart. It is easy to get carried away in the newness and excitement of a budding romance, and very easy to begin to spend most of the little free time you may get with a busy schedule with your boyfriend. And in the midst of all the excitement and butterflies, it is easy to put your friends on the back burner.
I have seen this happen more times than I can count, and I have walked away from friendships over this. It is a difficult facet of being a woman — the reality of trying to balance your relationship with your boyfriend while not forgetting your friends — or trying to wave your arms wildly (and figuratively) so that your friend with the boyfriend remembers that you exist. I believe that managing the balance of a romantic relationship and your friendships takes three important ingredients: intentionality, care and communication.
The most important thing to remember in the midst of trying to balance your friendships with your romantic relationship is that most romantic relationships do not last forever. I’m not trying to be a negative Nancy, but that is reality — most romantic relationships will end in a breakup! Some people marry from their first relationship, but many people have a few relationships before finding “the one.” This is so very important to keep in mind as you date because perhaps, like me, you have watched this unfortunate scenario play out countless times: a woman gets into a relationship and slowly stops putting time into her friendships. Her friends feel forgotten and as though she doesn’t care about them, so they begin to let go of the friendship, too. Sooner or later heartbreak hits and her boyfriend breaks up with her, and she is left with no one to turn to because she made her boyfriend her entire world. She spent every moment with him and just forgot her friends — imagine losing your boyfriend and realizing you have no friends who want to support you in your heartbreak — that is a recipe for serious sadness! Thankfully, this can be avoided!
Another important thing to remember is that both you and your friends must be realistic about what is reasonable in striking this balance between maintaining your relationship and your friendships. Your friends cannot expect that things will be the same as they were before you got into the relationship, because it simply can’t be! You also need to be realistic in the sense that yes, if you spend three weekends in a row only spending time with your boyfriend and not your friends, they will feel forgotten and set aside.
The core of all of this, in finding the balance in friendship and romance, lies in communication. Friendship is a mutual relationship where two people should have the ability and the courage to be open and honest with one another — in joys and in struggles, in fights and in working through obstacles together. Communicate your feelings. Let your friends know that you want them to communicate their feelings to you so you can learn and grow together as you navigate your relationship. If you are hurt, say so. If your friend is hurt, encourage her to say so. And if either of you are being over-sensitive and holding unrealistic expectations, you can go back to the conversation about what is realistic to expect of one another in the friendship and overcome that obstacle together.
Intentionality, care and communication. When you maintain these three ingredients in your friendships as you balance everyone you love and everyone who loves you, many misunderstandings and miscommunications will be avoided, and you will be able to journey happily together with both your boyfriend and your friends in harmony.
Emily Wilson Hussem travels the world speaking to women of all ages about their identity in Jesus Christ. She has dedicated her life to encouraging, equipping and empowering women to live in the freedom and joy they were made for. She lives in Southern California with her Dutch husband, Daniël, and son, Zion.