Scientists have documented the value of the bonds we have with our friends. Our friends support, buoy, and connect with us in so many ways. In today’s society, we now have tons of acquaintances on social media we like, love, post and chat with. However no one will ever replace our actual friends. They ground us, show up for us when we need them with no questions asked, and are there to laugh and cry with us in good times and in bad.
For most of us who are over 40, these friends have been in our lives for decades. But what happens to our friendships when we’re actively dating, trying to find love, or have found a significant other? I hear so many stories from people about how they never see their best friends who seemingly overnight became surgically attached to their significant others’ hips. While it’s tempting to ignore the outside world and devote all our free time to dating or our new love interest, this trend of neglecting our friends while we’re in a relationship has damaging repercussions. This is even more dangerous if you have children from a previous relationship who are feeling pushed aside by your new romance too.
Why is it so important to maintain the balance between our dear friends and our love life? There are a lot of reasons. Here are a few things to keep in mind when trying to balance all the different relationships in your life.
Friends can break up too.
Human beings need to feel desired and paid attention to. When you allow your friends to fall by the wayside, they’ll become frustrated and their attitude towards you will show it. People will start to give up on the prospects of hanging out with you because every time they try to initiate plans, you’ll be off on another date or doing something else with your significant other. Nobody likes to feel second rate and people will eventually stop attempting to maintain friendships with you.
When you neglect a healthy balance in your friendships and relationships, it’s a recipe for loneliness. Pre-relationship, you would have never ditched brunch with your pals. You can date as well as keep your friends; it’s all about sharing your time.
Many relationships don’t last forever.
You and your love interest may be great now, but what if you break up? However selfish this reason may seem, it is nothing short of the truth. If you and your significant other break up, who will you have to console you? Who will you have to go out with to forget your break-up woes? It is our true friends that show up with food and a nice bottle of wine when out partner leaves us. They clean up, do our laundry, organize our time, and help pick our heart up off the floor so we can eventually get back on the horse and start dating again. This level of loyalty and commitment should never be taken lightly.
New relationships can become routine.
Spending all your time with your romantic partner can be detrimental to your overall relationship. Too much of anything is never a good thing. It’s easy to get bored or annoyed with him or her or to start taking each other for granted. If you each spend time with your friends independently of each other, it will not only ensure that your friendships stay solid, but also that the time you spend with your partner will be more meaningful and special.
Your independence is always important.
If you’re prioritizing your boyfriend or girlfriend over your friends and family, other elements of your life will fall through the cracks as well. Are you maintaining your independence and pursuing things that interest you? Are you still open to change in your professional and social life? If your answer to either of those questions is no, change what you’re doing and spend more time with people other than your partner. It’s extremely important to engage in activities you love to do by yourself. Balancing the demands of your work, family, friends, new relationship is important, but so is taking care of yourself.
“Remember that the most valuable old antiques are good old friends”—H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Our friends will always be there for us as long as we’re there for them. We’re like magicians in our daily lives, accomplishing whatever we set our minds to. With a bit more thought and care, our friends will be with us through thick and thin. Whether you’re in your 20s or over 40 and single, having close friends to lean on is one of the most important bonds of your lifetime.