We are constantly inundated with depictions of romantic relationships. Whether it be in movies, TV shows, commercials, or social media, the emphasis is usually on finding (or losing) romantic love.
But what about friendship?
I am a big believer in placing equal importance on the platonic and romantic relationships in my life. A painful breakup during college prompted me to recalibrate and realize that while I was investing time and energy in my partner, I let some friendships fall to the wayside.
I felt out of touch with their lives and didn’t make as much of an effort to hang out as I should have. Ever since, I’ve made a conscious effort to make sure I’m watering the seeds of all types of relationships, not only romantic ones.
Here are my best tips on how to maintain a balance in your relationships with friends and a significant other.
Don’t forget quality one-on-one time
If you’re in a relationship, make an effort to foster friendships with and without your SO. My current boyfriend and I met in college and have many of the same friends. We end up hanging out frequently in groups or going on double dates with other coupled-up friends.
I make sure to reach out to those friends individually and not always within the “double date” or “group hangout” context. As fun as it is to hang out all together, it’s also important to me that I’m making memories and bonding with those friends outside of group activities. Plus, some activities are just better 1:1, like getting manicures or driving aimlessly around town.
I also take an interest in my friends’ dating lives and make sure they know they can always come to me to vent, or for advice/opinions, even if they are in a different season of life than I am at the moment. Honestly, I love listening to my friends’ dating adventures and offering advice when needed. Plus, trading stories and bouncing ideas off each other helps me in my own relationship, by providing ideas or viewpoints I may not have considered.
No matter if it’s a friend or significant other, I am a huge fan of making notes to myself to remember things about people so I don’t forget — my friends’ interview days, big moves, vacations, and trips, etc. This might seem like overkill, but I will even put a reminder on my calendar to text a friend good luck on an interview, or check in to see how their first day of classes went. I know being on the receiving end of those messages feels great, so I try to do the same for my friends. It’s also a targeted way to catch up on your friend’s life without asking an open-ended “what’s new?”
Try new things together
Finally, make an effort to set up “friend dates” to try new restaurants, museum exhibits, etc. so you are having new, exciting experiences with friends and not only with a romantic partner. Normally when I discover something new and cool in my city, I reflexively text my boyfriend to check it out.
Recently, I’ve started to pause and consider if any friends might be up for a new adventure, like visiting this citrus garden or oat milk soft-serve shop in NYC. As fun as they’d be with an SO, some adventures are just better with a bestie. I’ve found that some experiences take on a new quality with a friend because the focus can be on the experience itself (the precious gems exhibit, the comedy show, etc.) rather than the romantic relationship you’re fostering.
Learning how to balance friendships and romantic relationships has enriched both for me. Not only does being a better friend make me a better partner, but it also just makes life more fun!