By Bethany Biron, Contributor
Nothing beats the “can’t eat, can’t sleep, reach for the stars” feeling of new love.
We all know how it goes. Suddenly you’re so smitten, there’s no one else you’d rather spend time with than your new beau. Hanging out one night a week quickly turns into seven, and next thing you know you’re leaving a toothbrush at their apartment and wearing each other’s clothes.
Despite the sheer bliss of the start of a new relationship, navigating the early stages of love can be immensely overwhelming and all-consuming. They say love is like a drug, and it turns out there’s a chemical reason for that: It causes the brain to release a flood of dopamine, creating a sense of euphoria. It feels good, and you can’t get enough.
The danger arises when you’ve become so addicted to the drug of love that you start to neglect the other relationships in your life. By spending all your waking hours with your significant other, you begin to let your friends and family go by the wayside. How do you prevent this from happening? Here are some helpful tips on how to maintain friendships while in a relationship.
Schedule specific times during the week dedicated exclusively to your friends. Whether it’s carving out 15 minutes every Wednesday to reach out to a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile or maintaining a weekly brunch date with someone special in your life, prioritizing friendships is the first step to keeping them. Actively carve out this time in your planner and honor it — no last minute movie dates with bae.
While it may feel like all you want to do is text your boyfriend or girlfriend, when you’re with your friends put them front and center. Stow away your phone and listen. Be in the moment. Don’t talk incessantly about your partner.
“Make sure that you’re each getting equal talking time during the conversation, and that you really listen to what your friends have to say,” wrote Brittney Morgan in Apartment Therapy. “Everyone should feel heard and have fun without worrying about distractions.”
You might be bouncing-off-the-walls happy with your partner, but if you’re beginning to feel like you’re neglecting your friends and family, it’s time to have a talk. Start by telling your SO how much you enjoy spending time together, but propose that it might benefit both of you to each spend some time doing your ownthing. After all, absence does make the heart grow fonder.
The dynamics of a group hang can be tricky, but when well executed can be a thing of beauty. Planning effective group activities means that you can hang out with your partner, and your friends, all at the same time. Just try not to spend the entire time only talking to your SO Engage with the group.
Nobody enjoys being around a couple that cannot stop touching each other. It’s uncomfortable and alienating for everyone else in the room. Remember a little bit goes a long way while in the presence of friends. You don’t want to become *that* couple.
Whether you’ve been with your S.O. for two weeks or two years, at some point in your life, you’ve lived the single life. While you were unattached, it’s very possible some of your friends were dating around or beginning to settle down with their own partners.
Remember the friend who fell off the face of the earth? You missed them, right? (Maybe even a small part of you resented them.) Don’t let that happen to you!
Dating someone doesn’t give you a free pass to suddenly stop responding to texts and emails. “Sorry, I was busy!” only flies for so long. Think about all the times your friends rushed to console you after you sent an anxious text or wrote you a thoughtful email when you were feeling stressed.
Try to maintain your regular cadence when messaging friends, particularly if you’re starting to see less of them IRL. The beauty of the digital era is how it can help preserve friendships even amid the most hectic of times.
A friend called you out for being so unavailable? Yeah, that doesn’t feel so good. Sit down with them and explain that you got swept up in your new relationship and you’re struggling with balance. The best thing you can do is be upfront and honest. If they’re a good friend, they’ll understand. They might even have suggestions for how to make it better.
At the end of the day, significant others come and go, but family and friends are (hopefully) forever. As wonderful as it feels to be in the throes of romantic love, it can also be fickle and fleeting. The last thing you want is to reach the end of a relationship, only to find you’ve alienated everyone else in your life. As the saying goes, “No man (or woman!) is an island.” Building a well-rounded community of people is essential to living an enriching life.
Originally published on Talkspace.
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