Balancing Act: How to Balance Your Friends and Your Relationship

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When you're in a long-term relationship, friendships may suffer. It's natural to have different priorities as you get older and to place less importance on your individual social lives as you spend more time with your partner. However, it's important to maintain individual friendships. Having an emotional and social connection besides your partner can lead to greater happiness and a better sense of self, says professor of psychology Susan Krauss Whitbourne in the article "Fifteen Reasons We Need Friends" for Psychology Today.

Make Time for Your Friends

Make arrangements to meet up with friends in advance, make your partner aware of them and stick to them. Most friends will understand that you have less free time now that you are in a committed relationship, but you need to make the time and effort to include them in your life. If you are constantly pulling out of get-togethers at the last minute because your boyfriend wants to spend the evening with you, you may come across as unreliable and uncaring. Include your partner in some social events with your friends, suggests the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center.

Confide in Your Partner

You may have friends you have known since childhood, in whom you have confided your deepest secrets and fears. Being in a relationship doesn't mean you can't continue to seek advice, comfort and support from your close friends. In fact, it's healthy to turn to those who make you feel secure and loved. However, don't turn away from your partner to go to your friends, advises the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center. This may lead to distance in your relationship. Go to your partner for emotional support, too. He will feel valued, and your bond will deepen.

Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries, both with your friends and your partner, will save you potential conflict and heartache in the long run. If a friend is complaining that you don't have time for her any more, have an honest conversation with her. Explain that although you don't have as much time to see her as you did when you were single, she is still important to you, and you value her friendship. It may help to have a conversation with your partner about your friends, too. Discuss how often you will both see your separate friends, making sure you have quality time together as well. It's unhealthy to spend all your free time with friends, warns licensed clinical social worker Nathan Feiles in the article "6 Signs Your Marriage May Be in Trouble" for Psych Central. Create a schedule for the week if your lives are particularly hectic. It may seem strange at first, but it will help you keep track of arrangements.

Make New Friends Together

Making friends with other couples can be great for your relationship, says Whitbourne. Local clubs, community groups and parenting classes provide ideal ways to meet likeminded couples who can relate to you at this point in your lives. If you have individual friends as well as couple friends you like to spend time with together, you will have a rich, varied, rewarding social life.