One of the biggest tell-tail signs that you’re in a bad relationship is when you start losing your friends, and particularly friends you value. Generally by the time this starts happening, you’ve been with the person for long enough that you have developed serious feelings for them, and sometimes these friends come second to your heart.
I have been in this situation. I’ve watched many close friendships fade over the years because of my stubborn choice in partner. And only for a month or two after the friendship ending for the relationship to break up … and it feels, like agony! It feels like losing two really big parts of yourself only to gain nothing. It’s even happened to my close girlfriends who are people I aspire to be like, who sit across from me in cafes and tell me they have lived through the pain of losing friends for a relationship that hasn’t worked out anyway.
But what if your partner isn’t bad for you at all? What if the things you were telling your friends was just to clear your mind from it, get their opinions in that moment and to help you strengthen your relationship with more ideas?
Everyone has their own methods and solutions for resolving this predicament.
“If they’re good friends, they would stand by no matter what.” “If you valued the friendship, you’d prioritise your friendships.” You kind of hear it all, people are very opinionated about where they stand … but it’s never fifty/fifty. It seems difficult in these situations that you can have it all. But you can!
So the question isn’t, ‘How do you juggle your friendships with a toxic relationship’ because the relationship may not be toxic – you may just be venting to your friends some pain stemming from the relationship, but for the most part it is good. It’s difficult from a friend’s point of view not to judge, particularly when they care for you. Let’s face it, that’s what good friends do!
So how do you keep your friends?
1. Talk about your relationship with balance
If you truly care for your partner, talk about them to your friends with love. Tell stories in the most factual but balanced way you can. Try to see both sides. Where something happens that you really can’t process, understand your friends may also struggle to process it and either speak about it with your partner or seek outside support.
2. Praise your relationship
If you’re ever going to practise gratitude in your life, my greatest suggestion (unless you’re in an abusive relationship, in which case, seek help and please don’t take on this advice) is to practise gratitude in your relationship. Often people pick apart the person they love and everything they do for them: it’s not Hollywood, just be happy! Same with your friendships. I try to make everyone of significance to me know how important they are to me as often as I can. You never know when something may happen to you and you may not be able to tell them how they’ve positively impacted you anymore.
3. Catch up with your friends
It’s easy to get caught up with your close friend, working a lot and your partner who you want to spend every moment with, but it’s important to remember the little guys! You know who I’m talking about, these are the friends who have been there unconditionally for you and supported you and are available to catch up and come to your birthday parties … but they’re not your BEST friend. You need to make time for these people and still demonstrate their importance in your life or you will lose them.
4. Act with love
Keep your head on your shoulders and always act with love: towards your friends and partner. Where a problem arises, act with compassion – always try to see things from the other person’s perspective and try to demonstrate understanding. You will still do what you do, but it’s ok to communicate that you hear people. If you value your friends AND your love, you need to act with the same love and compassion toward both.
5. NEVER choose
Even if a friend throws down their sword and demands you make a choice, I still think you’re safer remaining on the fence. If you make a choice, they’ll forever remember it. Whereas, it’s often these friends that demand a decision who turn around and apologise … if they never do, then let them go. It’s easier to accept someone back in your life and have them WANT to come back at times when you haven’t antagonized the situation.
6. Continue to focus on the positive
Remember, people like positive people, and they like people who focus on the positives. So no matter what’s going on between your partner and your friends, try to rise above it and continue to be positive and to choose to see things positively! When sharing something bad that’s come up in the relationship, or something that has hurt you, express that this doesn’t occur all the time and that you just want their opinion to help you decide your next steps. Make the distinction very clearly that you’re not looking for a solution, you’re looking for an opinion which will help you find the solution.