August 26, 2015

We Need Friends—Even After Finding “The One.”


I have observed that most people—regardless of sexual orientation or relationship goals—tend to go AWOL once they find “The One,” or even “The One for Now.”

Perhaps those reading this can relate to a story I have about a friend who never had to tell me if she was in a relationship.

Instead, I and all her other friends knew because all phone calls, emails and lunch dates immediately ceased.

Once she was ensconced in her new boyfriend, it was like everyone else she ever knew was a distant memory. Inevitably, the relationship would end and she would go back to her friends—usually falling over herself with apologies for being out of touch for so long.

If it sounds like I am judging her, I am not.

I did the same thing when I was dating, though not to such a dramatic degree. Indeed, everyone I know has done this to some degree or another.

On one hand, it’s hardly surprising. Those early, intoxicating weeks and months of a romantic relationship should be spent with the one we love. Not only is it  a chance to get to know them better, but as most of us know, once that infatuation or honeymoon phase is gone it is usually gone for good. (Even if it does return from time to time, rarely is it as intense as in those early days.)

However, there are some important reasons to keep in contact with our friends—even in those early stages—and it’s not just about good manners.

Keep these in mind the next time you find a new partner and just want to be with him or her every chance you get:

1. Friends can help use stay grounded.

Silly impulsive acts aren’t just for teenagers or young adults. I have known people well into middle age who decided it would be a good idea to leave everything behind and move across the country or even overseas to be with someone they hardly knew.

It’s easy in the beginning to gloss over real potential challenges or put them on the back burner.

This is when friends can be very helpful in keeping us grounded. Usually, even if a friend is supportive and open-minded to an idea like moving hundreds or thousands of miles away, they will still ask questions like, “What will you do for work?” or, “Have you even visited this place?”

While we may not want to think about these things, we often have to, or if we don’t there may be negative consequences down the line.

This leads me to number two.

2. Friends can sometimes serve as a warning for problems we may not even be aware of at the time.

Nearly everyone has a story about a former relationship that begins, “I wish I had seen ___________ at the time, but I did not.” Love/lust has a tendency to make us wear blinders.

However, it’s rare for our friends to don them, even if they really like our new partner or are genuinely happy for us.

I remember two occasions where my best friend saw things about my new boyfriends that I did not. On one occasion, he noticed that a boyfriend of six months, “seemed controlling,” while on another he noticed that a guy wasn’t nearly as open-minded as he claimed to be, based on his reaction to meeting my friend who happened to be openly gay.

As it turns out, he was correct both times and even though I didn’t say anything and hadn’t noticed these things at that time, it did cause me to be on the lookout. I have no doubt I would have stayed in these respective relationships had someone not alerted me in the first place.

3. We will always need friends.

Let’s be blunt: There’s a good chance that a romantic relationship will end at some point. However, even if doesn’t and we happen to spend the rest of our life with someone, we still need friends.

Lovers can be friends, but friends aren’t lovers, and there is a big advantage to that.

For one thing, the pressure to always put our best face forward tends to be lesser with friends. My friends—especially my oldest ones—have probably seen more sides to me than many of the people I ever dated. While I don’t think I was deceiving the latter, I do believe that many times I am “more me” around friends.

Friends can also keep us connected to the outside world, which is important in the early days of a romantic relationship, where there can be a tendency to forget there are other things going on outside our bubble.

Plus, it’s actually good to spend a little time apart, even in those first weeks or months. Contrary to what books and movies tell us, there can be too much of a good thing. Much like eating too much chocolate can actually put us off it, being around one person all the time may do the same thing.

Part of really getting to know a person is knowing how we feel when they are away from us.

In closing, getting into a new relationship is usually a time of great fun and excitement. Enjoy it, but don’t forget the friends that were there before this new person entered the scene.

And while it’s great if your friends become friends with your new partner, it’s also okay if they do not. Melting with someone is not the same as throwing away our identities, and if this new person really is our soulmate, then they will not only be okay with us needing to spend time with our friends but will actually encourage it.

If they do the latter, then that may be a sign they are a keeper.


Author: Kimberly Lo

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: Flickr/Wrote


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