No one ever said that balancing a romantic relationship with the other relationships in your life was easy, especially at first. But figuring out a way to invest in your partner and the other important people in your life is so, so worth it.
In the early stages of dating, it’s normal to spend a lot of time with your partner as you’re getting to know each other better and enjoying the honeymoon phase of the relationship. But if your romantic relationship is eating up all of your time and energy, leaving nothing for your friendships, then it might be time to pause and evaluate why there’s such an imbalance.
“It’s far too easy to immerse your energy and time into your significant other and neglect your friendships,” marriage and family therapist Andrea Wachter told HuffPost. “While it is very common to have a shift in your availability, and it is a challenge to navigate another person in your life, it is essential to continue to feed and water our friendships in order for them to thrive.”
Below, therapists share the signs that your relationship vs. friendship priorities are out of whack.
1. You often cancel plans with your friends to spend more time with your partner.
“As with most things, balance is the key to healthy relationships. If you find that you have been frequently canceling plans with friends to spend time with your S.O. instead, you are potentially causing harm to both your friendships and your relationship. Your friends may be hurt and resentful, and later, you may feel resentful of the time you invested in your relationship at the cost of your friendships.” — Anna Poss, therapist
2. You learn your friends’ big news — a new job, an engagement, a professional milestone — on social media instead of hearing it from them directly.
“Normally you would know if your friends got a new job, went away for a weekend or started a new relationship. If you are finding out these big events first on social media, perhaps your relationship has impacted how connected you are to your friends.” — Marie Land, psychologist
3. When you’re with your friends, all you talk about is your relationship.
“It’s very common to get excited about your relationship and want to talk about it with your friends. A lot. However, it’s important that this does not become the only, or even main, topic of conversation. Make sure you talk about other aspects of your life, too. Also, make sure to regularly ask about your friends’ lives as well. And when you respond to what they share, keep the focus on them and what they shared about themselves before bringing it back to you.” — Wachter
4. Even when you’re not talking about your relationship, thoughts about it are all-consuming, making it tough to be present with your friends.
“You should be able to follow a conversation and be genuinely interested in what’s going on with your friends. If you can’t focus on things your friend says that would normally interest you, then your romantic relationship might be getting in the way.” — Land
5. Your partner tries to convince you not to spend time with your friends or family, which could be an early sign of an abusive relationship.
“While it is completely normal to find yourself spending the time you normally would with friends to focus on a romantic relationship, what isn’t normal or healthy is a partner who encourages you to give these relationships up. A romantic partner trying to isolate you or end your relationships with family and friends is a red flag and early sign of an abusive relationship. Abusers can be skilled manipulators and they can be subtle in their attempts, even making it feel like it is your idea to spend less time with others.” — Poss
6. Your partner is jealous of the close bond you have with your friends.
“A lot of people think it’s normal for a romantic partner to be a little jealous of friendships that take you away from them. But it’s not. Not at all. People are multifaceted and complex. They need lots of relationships to fill their many complexities. You need family, friends, co-workers, people who share your same hobbies, and romantic partners. If your significant other is jealous of any of these relationships, then it’s getting in the way. And depending on the severity, it can even be a symptom of a controlling relationship.” — Aaron Anderson, marriage and family therapist
7. Your friends avoid hanging out with you when you’re with your S.O. and rarely invite him or her to join group activities.
“If you’re finding that your friends don’t want to hang out with you when you’re with your significant other, it’s either because they don’t like them or they don’t like you when you’re with them. This could be because you’re different when you’re around your significant other and they don’t like the person you become. If this is the case, you have some soul searching to do to ask yourself why you change so much. It could also be because your friends just don’t like your significant other. Either way, it’s messing with your friendships.
If you get told a lot that your plus-one is not allowed, then there may be a reason for that. If your friends call you but don’t invite your significant other, it means that your relationship is interfering with your friendships. Ideally, your significant other would fit in pretty well with your friends ― most of them, anyway. And everyone would feel welcome together. If this just isn’t happening, you may find yourself having to choose friendships or this romance sooner or later.” ― Anderson
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-866-331-9474 or text “loveis” to 22522 for the National Dating Abuse Helpline.