The honeymoon period of a new relationship is great—you’re getting to know your partner and getting closer with them, and every date gives you those same butterfly feelings. But in the “not so great” camp? Getting so caught up in spending time with your partner that you forget to spend time with your friends. It doesn’t always happen, and it’s usually not intentional, but when it does happen it can really negatively impact your friendships.
So, how do you keep your friendships healthy and happy even when you’ve got romance on the brain? It’s all about communication and doing little things that show your friends how much you appreciate them. These tips can help you keep all of your relationships from getting toxic.
Reach out first (don’t just wait to respond)
Friendship is never a one-way street, and if you’ve ever dealt with a friend who didn’t understand that, you know that putting in all the effort yourself in a friendship (or any relationship) is stressful and disheartening. And while you may not intentionally do it, when you’re busy seeing someone knew and settling into a relationship, it can be easy to get distracted. If your friends are constantly reaching out to you first—calling, texting, asking to make plans—and you never do, they’ll start to feel frustrated. Make a conscious effort to start conversations and invite them to things without being prompted so that your friends don’t feel left behind.
Keep communication open
This goes for both your friends and your partner—you need to be able to openly and honestly talk with them in general as a part of a healthy relationship, but it’s especially important not to forget this when circumstances in your life change. Talk to your partner about how important your friends are to you and let them know you want to make sure you always have time for them—that way, your partner understands that your friends are a part of your life (and your schedule). And, while you’re at it, let your friends know the same things so they know that you value them and want to make time for them. It may be something you feel can go without saying, but saying how you feel and how much you value your loved ones can make a world of difference.
Go on group dates
If your friends are also dating or in relationships, group dates can be a great way to spend time with everyone involved. Invite a few friends and their dates out to dinner (or drinks, or bowling—whatever sounds fun) and you’ll all be able to get to each other’s partner’s better, spend quality time together and maybe even make or foster some new friendships in the process. And even if you don’t do the whole group date thing, make sure you introduce your partner to your friends so no one feels left out.
Plan one-on-one hangouts
Introducing your partner to your friends and going on group dates are two important pieces of the puzzle, but you shouldn’t only be spending time with your friends while you’re partner is around. Make sure you schedule in one-on-one time with your friends (or small group time, if that’s how you usually do it). It’ll give you time to catch up and talk about things and will remind both of you why you’re friends in the first place.
Be mindful of canceling plans
Sure, sometimes important things come up and you have to rearrange your schedule a little bit—that’s normal, and your friends will understand. But if you’re constantly changing or canceling plans with your friends, it might make them feel like you don’t actually want to spend time together, especially if your new relationship has been sucking up more of your free time than usual. The occasional reschedule is fine, but try to be mindful of just how often you’re putting off friend dates—the better you are at following through, the more your friends will feel loved and appreciated.
Be present when you’re together
This is probably something you already do, but it’s important, so here’s a reminder: When you’re with your friends, be present—as in, don’t spend the entire time checking your phone. Another big part of being present is being mindful of how you’re actually spending your time together—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. Everyone should feel heard and have fun without worrying about distractions.