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Is It Okay If My Only Friend Is My Boyfriend?

A girl stands alone in a desert.

Dear CMR, 

My boyfriend and I are struggling to manage balancing time together while still maintaining our friendships with others. Is it important to maintain those friendships? If so, why?


Attached at the Hip

Dear Attached,

The honeymoon or early phase of a relationship can feel completely intoxicating. You are swept up in the presence of someone new and exciting and often want to be around them all. the. time. After a while, it’s easy to get used to the rhythm of always (and only) spending time with each other. The fact is, just like your new relationship needs work to grow, your existing relationships need work to remain healthy and vibrant. Here are some signs to watch out for that could indicate you’re spending a little too much time with your partner:

  1. When they make plans with other people, you panic. Thoughts like “Well what will I do while you’re gone?” and “Why do you want to go do something without me?” can indicate an unhealthy level of codependency.

  2. A significant lack of depth and frequency of time spent with other friends. It’s normal to experience a slight drop off in your social calendar when you start dating someone - it takes TIME to maintain a healthy relationship, but that is true for friendships, too! If you can’t remember the last time you hung out with your best girl or guy friend, it’s probably time to schedule a coffee date with someone other than your boyfriend or girlfriend.

  3. Dissatisfaction with your partner even when nothing is wrong. No matter how “perfect” they are, a significant other cannot fulfill your every need. No single person can do that.

If this sounds like you or someone you know, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate your relationship from a third-party perspective. Do your friends feel supported and cared for, or have they felt a drop in closeness since you began your relationship? Do you feel like you and your significant other are living in a “bubble” that only has room for the two of you? Consider taking these steps towards balancing your social circle:

  1. Encourage your partner to spend time with his or her friends. If they get invited to go play golf, tell them to have a great time! Often what my boyfriend and I will do is plan a date night after each of us gets home from plans with other friends. He will go golfing, I’ll go to the beach with a girlfriend, and we’ll meet up for dinner at our favorite restaurant and talk about our days. Life is way more interesting when you are each doing what excites you!

  2. Plan intentional time together throughout the week so that you can properly manage expectations. It’s easy for disappointment or miscommunication to happen when you each aren’t communicating well. For example, if you each plan to spend the day together on Saturday, that could open up Friday night to do something with friends. 

  3. Take yourself on a date! It might feel a little weird at first, but if you can’t enjoy your own company, how do you expect someone else to? Taking time for yourself is a great way to recharge so you are able to be the best friend and partner you can be.

Remember, it isn’t bad to spend time with your partner or make them a priority. In fact, they should be a top priority in your life! Just not your only priority. Try to put yourself in your friends’ shoes and ask yourself how they feel about you as a friend. It’s okay if you don’t hang out as much as you used to, but it’s not okay to forget about them completely. Your assignment this week is to book a coffee date with your best girl or guy friend and take intentional time to catch up on what is going on in their life. I promise you’ll be glad you did!