Beginning a relationship is an exciting but time-consuming escapade, and, particularly if you lead a busy lifestyle, it can be a struggle to slot dates into a brimming calendar. But the mistake that some make – usually innocently – is altering social habits drastically in order to accommodate a new romantic status. Can relationship ruin social life? Certainly yes – slowly, but systematically.
Sure, you’ll need to substitute some of the downtime you’d invest elsewhere in order to make the relationship work, as getting to know someone from scratch or learning about them in a completely new light takes a while. But it’s crucial to strike the right balance when that means time with your loved ones may be compromised.
That isn’t to say friends shouldn’t understand that you will want to chill with your new significant other, but we’ve all seen it happen before when a friend snubs you a little too much when they begin a new romantic conquest. It’s not nice for anyone, and it can lead to a rotten atmosphere and a sense of unfamiliarity when you eventually do something together.
What works for each individual is down to personal discretion, but I’ve compiled some of the more obvious pitfalls to be mindful of to ensure that all is fair for your friends, your partner and yourself.
1. Spending too much time with your partner
If you don’t make time for your friends then they’ll quickly stop making time for you. Don’t take them for granted, which means you have to make an effort and demonstrate that you haven’t simply found better company. If you don’t, you might find yourself getting a taste of your own medicine when you eventually need them.
Platonic benefit: Make an effort to devote some time to a friend; it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, it could just be a meal out, a pamper evening or a Skype sesh! It’s crucial that your friends know you’re there for them and that they’re still important to you. Besides, when it comes to relationship advice, who better to advise you than those who have known you longest?
Romantic benefit: Time away from your partner is a good thing as you both need to maintain your individuality. Plus, having interesting experiences away from each other means there’s so much more to share when you next meet!
Personal benefit: Different people contribute different aspects to your life, and keeping a well-rounded social life will keep you well-rounded as a person.
2. Talking about your relationship all the time
Life can be boring sometimes, but you’ll only make it more so for those around you if the only thing you talk about is your relationship. Understandably, when life is just life and your new romantic status is the only change from the mundane you’ve experienced lately, it sometimes feels like there isn’t really much else to talk about. But while you are entitled to speak to your friends about your relationship, it’s essential to make sure that’s not all you talk about otherwise you’ll soon find yourself short of people willing to even start a conversation with you.
Platonic benefit: It’s exciting to share all the details of your love life with your friends, but make sure they’re doing okay, too. Variety is the spice of life and some of the best moments we have with our friends are when we spend ages chatting nonsense on every topic under the sun!
Romantic benefit: If you’re significant other meets a friend who knows everything from their shoe size to that embarrassing story they told you from before you even got together, it can be a little off-putting. Instead, let them get acquainted naturally and allow them to make their own judgements.
Personal benefit: When even the time away from your significant other is spent talking about them, not only will others get bored of hearing about your relationship but you’ll also bore yourself eventually and put your relationship in jeopardy. Time away mentally is as beneficial as time away physically, so make sure you give yourself something else to focus on.
3. Too many public displays of affection
There’s no reason you shouldn’t outwardly express affection – a peck on the lips, holding hands, playful nudges – but some people can find this awkward if overdone. No one will stick around a couple who are all over each other, so tone it down (unless you know your friends are into voyeurism).
Platonic benefit: Be sensitive to those around you and try not to create a situation where friends may become uncomfortable. Clinging to your beloved may make your friends feel excluded or like they’re intruding. Save the romance for home and enjoy the time with your friends while you can.
Romantic benefit: If the only attention you seem bothered by is your partner’s, this could make your friends less keen on them. It’s also worth checking to what extent they’re happy with public displays of affection as it may be something that puts them out of their comfort zone.
Personal benefit: You don’t want to encourage your friends to withdraw whenever you’re around your partner. It’s important to establish an amiable environment so that no one feels like a third wheel.
4. Clinging to your significant other
As stated in the first point, you need to spend time away from your significant other, but this means even if they’re in the same room! It’s one thing not being all over them, but even if you’re going to the bar and bathrooms together, you’re soon going to find people speak of you as being ‘joined at the hip’. Allow your partner to mingle freely in a social situation and make their own judgements rather than presenting as an overbearing double act.
Platonic benefit: Your friends and romantic partner need to get on even when you’re not around. Give them space to develop the relationship between themselves and become friends without your supervision.
Romantic benefit: Again, your significant other needs to retain their individuality and make their own calls. They shouldn’t be lost without you, nor you without them, if left to fend for themselves in a social environment, so let them develop their personal relationships, particularly with those they may find themselves around quite often.
Personal benefit: When you’re one group of friends, as opposed to being two groups with a mutual connection (you), you’ll have an infinitely better time. After all, nothing makes life simpler than your best friend and your partner getting along!
5. Inconveniencing your housemates
If you are in a living situation where you share a house with another person, be it family, friends or someone else, they may dislike having a frequent guest. This could be down to an effect on bills or even just that they may not like anyone but those they’re close to seeing them slob around in their pyjamas or with no makeup. Obviously, it’s your space too, and if you’re paying your share to live there then they can’t stop you from having guests, but it can be irritating to gain something tantamount to another tenant unexpectedly and it could cause many tensions even when your partner isn’t around.
Platonic benefit: Sharing the same space can be tricky as it is, and, unfortunately, it does require a degree of compromise, so you may want to make sure they’re okay with your partner being around if they visit often. It’s worth having a quiet word to see if your housemate has any preferences when it comes to guests. They probably won’t have any issue, but the consideration will be appreciated.
Romantic benefit: If it’s possible, you could alternate whose place you stay at, or even use it as an excuse for a getaway. It will keep things mixed-up nicely and makes it fairer overall. If your housemate isn’t too happy about your partner being over, chances are they probably feel uncomfortable too. It might even be more of a nuisance for them to be away from home so often. It’s clearly dependant on each individual situation, so it’s important to address the topic to ensure everyone’s happy.
Personal benefit: Your home environment is the most important place to keep stress free, so keeping things sweet between you and your housemate is essential. It’s also reassuring for your partner if they know from the get-go that their presence is welcome.
I know that most of these things seem blatant, but sometimes people perceive actions differently to how they’re intended, so it’s worth bearing in the back of your mind. The most important thing to take away is that this is about striking a good balance, not pretending that your partner is a stranger whenever you’re in public. And when all goes smoothly, hopefully you’ll have a fantastic social life and a fantastic relationship!