All of us will make poor relationship decisions.
Hate to break it to you, but you’re human. You’re gonna screw the pooch eventually. Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to minimize the impact of poor decision making. A simple place to start? Maintaining strong friendships.
I’ve been mostly great at prioritizing friendships, with the exception of one relationship. I’m not sure what happened, but I was bitten hard by The Crazy Bug. We were inseparable for nearly two years. Which, as you can imagine, means I came close to losing all my friendships. After the breakup I realized I made a mistake. With time and intentionality I was able to fix plenty, but some damage was beyond repair.
So, learn from my mistakes! Here to help you make better choices are a few reasons to make friendships a priority.
Friends can help you determine if your relationship is healthy.
If you’re a sitcom junkie like me, you’ve definitely seen the stock-episode where “Character X” is dating some scum bag, but none of her friends have the guts to break the news. Such episodes make me shout at my TV, “Warn her! She needs to know!”
After all, you probably chose your close friends because you value their character and wisdom. That is, unless they’re filthy rich and you’re only using them for the free wine and ice cream, (Clearly, my assumption of how rich people spend their money is spot on.) Anyhow, assuming your friends only make a modest paycheck, they’re probably trustworthy. You picked them. Now trust them.
It might be tempting to write-off their opinion. You might want to make excuses (Ahem, “She’s just jealous!”) in order to protect your relationship. Look at it this way, though: If your friends are brave enough to approach you with an opinion, you have the responsibility to honor their courage by at least considering their point of view. If you’re especially bold, you’ll take the first step and ask your friends for input before they come to you.
(That’s not to say that every friend gets to give input. You would drown in opinions. Choose a few with good judgement skills. Keep them close.)
Your friends need your relationship (in healthy doses.)
I often hear single people say, “Ugh. I hate hanging out with couples.” I get it. Some couples are truly awful. However, I love spending time with couples and one-on-one with married individuals. I like to study them.
Observation helps us discover our wants and learn healthy behavior. Studying close friends helps us determine relationship characteristics we like and dislike, as well as bring abnormal family patterns to the surface. That weird way your parents interact? Yeah, not everyone does that. Spending time with a diverse group of couples makes that obvious. The ability to process those details is important for single people. It helps them (…Us? …Me?) make better relationship choices.
If you isolate yourself, you deny your friends a valuable example. Your friends need to hear you talk about your relationship. They need to learn from your victories and failures.
(That’s not to say this is the sole thing you should talk about. Otherwise, your friends will probably never want to see you again, and for good reason.)
They keep your identity in check.
Let’s play a game: Name the first couple that comes to mind that has it’s own identity. Did you think of somebody? Don’t lie. You definitely did. We all know a couple that has developed their own distinct personality. They like all the same things, they make the same bad jokes, and they creep us out. They’re almost straight out of an episode of Portlandia.
Spending too much time together can lead to being eerily similar. While it’s great to develop connective relationship tissue, you and your partner are two distinct human persons. Each of you has unique tastes, opinions, and hobbies. Those things make you awesome! Don’t lose sight of that. Making time for your friends is a great way to maintain your personal identity.
Unfortunately, your relationship might not last.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is a chance your relationship won’t make it. Lots (most!) of relationships don’t. Relationships are hard work and sometimes things fall apart, even when you don’t expect it. Worse yet, what if you lose your partner to an accident or disease? There are plenty of factors that keep us from the circumstances of life, unfortunately. We can’t always plan it out to our liking.
If you lose your closest friends amidst your relationship, who will bring over a pint of ice cream when things go sour? Who will binge Netflix in sweats and remind you to keep moving forward?
Save yourself the pain and frustration! Don’t be the turd who has to apologize after a breakup. Keep your friends close. You will be more sand and balanced, and it will help maintain a healthy relationship for the long haul.
Who doesn’t want that?