Managing Your Friendship When in Relationship

1. How much time do you want to spend with your friends?

Friendships for both of you are an important part of living a full and joyful life. Both of you likely have friends prior to becoming a couple and friends you’ve met in individual pursuits through work, sports, hobbies, or elsewhere. It’s important to maintain these friendships and to feel free to spend individual time with your friends. Sometimes your partner might be jealous or frustrated by the amount of time you spend with friends. Find out from each other how much time you desire to be with your friends without your partner.

2. How should we handle it, if one of us feels resentful of time spent with friends?

One of you might have more friends or enjoy more time with friends than the other. You might have already experienced resentment of your partner’s time with friends. Or your partner might feel frustrated by your lack of understanding when he or she wants to be with friends. Discuss together why and when resentment might arise and how you should communicate it and respond to it. How can you reach a compromise or place of mutual respect and understanding?

3. Do I have any friends you don’t like or feel uncomfortable around? If so, why?

Sometimes one or more of your friends might irritate or annoy your spouse. Maybe his high school buddy is too loud or her best friend tends to gossip too much. Maybe you don’t trust or respect one of your partner’s friends. Do you feel so uncomfortable around this friend that it’s negatively impacting your relationship? Discuss this together and how you both can understand the other’s position. How can you make it more comfortable and acceptable for both of you?

4. How often should we spend time with friends as couples?

If you have couple friends, it’s fun to go out as a foursome or in a group to socialize. However, socializing with other couples can become a method to avoid talking and connecting with each other. You need time with friends, but you also need to have time alone as a couple. One of you might be the “social director” and arrange plans with others every weekend. One of you might enjoy quieter, more spontaneous free time. Discuss how much time each of you thinks is optimal to spend with couple friends.

5. What are your favorite things to do with our couple friends?

When you do go out with friends, you might find yourselves doing the same activities over and over. Or maybe one of you arranges the events, and the other just goes along. Other couples can open the door to fun, new activities, and experiences you might not have considered before. Talk together about what each of you enjoys doing with other couples and the favorite couples you enjoy spending time with.

6. How often do you feel comfortable having friends in our home?

One great way to socialize with friends is by inviting them to your home. Of course, this involves some amount of cleaning and preparation. It also means you might not be able to follow your regular schedule for time together, reading, working on projects, alone time, or your normal bedtime routine. Discuss together how often you’d like to have friends over to socialize. Are there friends you prefer to socialize with at your home rather than outside of it?

7. Which of our friends could you see us traveling with?

Traveling with friends can be fun and create opportunities for shared adventures and memories. However, travel can be stressful, and even the closest couples can find they differ in routines, interests, and stress tolerance. If you think you might enjoy traveling with others, discuss who both of you see as good companions for you. Think about all the possible difficulties related to travel and how this couple might respond to them.

8. How do you feel about me having friends who are the opposite sex?

Perhaps one or both of you had a friend of the opposite sex prior to becoming a couple. Or maybe you’ve made a friend at work or through a hobby that you have a platonic, enjoyable connection with. Find out from your partner how he or she feels about this friendship now or if you developed a friendship in the future with someone of the opposite sex. What boundaries would you need to set around this kind of friendship? Would it be acceptable at all?

9. Do you feel jealous of any of my friendships, and if so, why?

Sometimes one partner can feel jealous of the closeness shared between the other person and a friend. Perhaps your partner shares feelings or information with a friend that she hasn’t shared with you, or maybe he has told his friend too many personal details about your relationship. Maybe you feel as though your spouse enjoys her friendship time more than she enjoys time with you. Ask each other this question and listen without defensiveness to the reason your partner feels this jealousy. How can you address this issue?

10. How can we become better friends to each other?

An intimate love relationship should be grounded in a deep and abiding friendship. Friends have each other’s backs and support the other one in good times and bad. Friends enjoy fun times together and have mutual interests and values. Friends are forgiving and compassionate. How do each of you need to be a better friend to your partner? How can you strengthen the bonds of friendship within the context of your romantic relationship?

Follow-up: Are there any behavior adjustments you’d like to request from your partner related to friends and spending time with friends? What specific action steps will you both take to improve your understanding of each other and yourselves related to your friendships and the friendship you have as a couple? Write these down and determine how and when you will initiate these changes or actions.

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