5 great ways to value friends while dating
Once dating starts to get a little more serious, there are stepping stones to integrate two different lives. Often one of the first of these is the meeting of each other’s friends. Friends can make or break a relationship, especially if their opinion sways you. Meeting your new partner’s friends can be very nerve-wracking, so what should you consider? How can you continue to value friends as you date? And what might be going on under the surface, with your friends or theirs?
It’s well known that we value friends as the family that we choose, and their approval is something that we seek and cherish. Their wisdom is precious, as they know us deeply, especially if they are close or long-standing friends and we should treasure our friendships. Their guidance is vital in many parts of life. So, if things aren’t plain sailing with the important people in your life, and those who may become important, what should you remember?
They might be be feeling left out
Your friends are used to seeing you, hanging out with you, phoning or messaging you, getting a reply and having your attention. When someone else comes on to the scene who could become your priority, it becomes a balancing act so that your partner receives the time and attention that is suitable for your and their expectations whilst honouring friendships and being a good friend.
You don’t want to let resentment build up. Sometimes this can cause an unwillingness to provide approval for your new situation. To combat this, make sure you carve out time to spend one on one with your friends to make them feel appreciated and heard.
Although a new relationship is exciting and something you will want to talk about, don’t let it be all-consuming. Instead make sure you spend time finding out how your friends are doing too and don’t bombard them with news about your relationship – being aware and conscious that whilst they might be excited for you, they may also want your advice and help on their own situations and need you to be a friend.
You could book in a time to listen to how their life is going, reassuring them that they are still important and loved. Perhaps you can go out for dinner together, or have them over for a pizza night.
You’re no longer single together
If you have been single for some time with a group of other single friends, starting a relationship can bring emotional challenges. As you have supported each other through singleness, friends may find it hard that it is you in a relationship and not them, as the camaraderie of previously being single together has now changed.
They may feel left out or left behind and some may unfortunately be jealous of the love and attention you are receiving. It may take them time to be pleased for you and supportive. If the roles were reversed, you may feel the same way. Making sure you don’t rub the new relationship in their faces will help. Make sure you talk about other topics rather than just your new partner, be supportive of where your friends are at and always think of how they may be feeling.
Remember: their support system of surrounding themselves with other single people has shifted and this needs to be managed carefully.
If you have friends who have never been in a relationship, it’s possible they will simply not understand the new dynamics you’re entering in to. They may not have had experience of the ups and downs of dating or relationships and whereas you may have turned to them for advice beforehand, this is an unknown area that they can’t connect with you on.
Making sure that you are available for help and advice when they do enter into a relationship will be useful for them, and be a listening ear for when they need someone to talk to, in order to maintain the bond that you have with your friends.
It may be that you clash with certain members of your partner’s friendship group, or your partner does not get on with your friends. This can cause friction and tension and can create extra drama within your relationship, especially if you rely on your friends’ approval at all costs. If their opinions affect your opinions then this is a time when relationships can possibly fall away and break down so this is a time to be mindful of what causes the clashes and be vigilant in trying to alleviate them.
They may feel that you or your partner are too loud or quiet for each other, that one is too dominant, or that you lose who you are. Having honest, but loving conversations with each party with plenty of reassurance to both of them about each of them can help iron out the clashes and reiterate to your friends and partner the great qualities that make them who they are to you.
You will want to champion your friends to your partner whilst making sure your partner feels valued and heard. It may be that your friends have seen you through some very difficult times and they are extremely protective of you and they feel that no one will ever be good enough for you. This is a high standard to achieve for any partner, so showing your friends how wonderful your partner is whilst lovingly appreciating your friend’s protection is a balance that needs to be made.
Of course, you should always listen to advice and warnings for red flags and safety as your friends may be the ones to see when something is amiss. You will change in some ways when you are in a relationship but it should be for the better. However if the relationship is right, safe and you feel that God has led you together, you need to stand firm in your new unit.
Secrets and the Past
Friends are the ones that know your past, the mistakes, your regrets, your previous relationships – and your annoying behaviours! It may be that they liked a previous flame more than you. It may be that you have been married before and your friends have seen you through divorce and the hard times and don’t want you to get hurt again. Or it may be that you struggle to be around your partner’s friends who make jokes about previous relationships, flings, and behaviour that you may find triggering.
Respecting that your friends, in the early stages of a relationship, know you better than your new partner will bring reassurance to you to know that they have your back and they want the best for you. When entering a new relationship and seeing the friendship group that know your partner well, respect that they have been there through thick and thin.
Realise that there will be inside jokes, memories and stories, but it is important that the past is in the past and providing everything is safe and behaviours aren’t harmful, then you must remember that you are working on creating a future with your partner. Eventually you will eventually connect with them on a deeper level than their friends.
You are more likely to know them inside and out in the future, but respect where you are at in the relationship and in the early stages, be mindful that the friends are the current experts on your partner.
It may be that when you first meet your partner’s friends, you put so much pressure on yourself that you do not make the first impression that you’d hoped, and their view of you isn’t truly who you are. This is a challenge to overcome as first impressions are sometimes hard to change, and of course you want to come across in the best way.
Remember to be consistent in who you are to try and combat this, so the more they get to know you, hopefully they’ll understand that nerves can get in the way and they’ll get to understand the real you.
Try to remember that they have been there for them when you were not. The true friends on both sides will flag up anything that is truly wrong and be there to pick up the pieces, but also the true friends will support and encourage the relationship if it is right. They will be the ones that stay when the dynamics change.
What has helped you to value friends while dating?
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