Growing up, my mother used to tell me that it was a poor choice to ever put a guy before your girlfriends. No matter what happens, or who you date, your friends should always come first. Growing up, I truthfully believed in this notion—because most of my relationships were immature, young-love that wouldn’t last long. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that sometimes, you do need to put your relationship before your friendships and there’s a good reason to do so.
When I started dating someone pretty seriously in my early 20s, not all of my friends were in relationships. In fact, most of them weren’t. I’ve always been the girl who enjoyed being in a full-blown, romance-filled relationship than playing the field. And, while I enjoy the long-term commitment, some of my close friends were single and thriving. This, often times, led to a clash of priorities. My friends always wanted to go out and meet guys at the bar—but, I was taken, not wanting to be their “wing woman,” flirting with the guy’s friend.
Regardless of my relationship, I always made it out. I didn’t want to fulfill my mother’s warning that when you distance yourself from your friends, you look as though your boyfriend means more than your relationship. I didn’t want my friends to rag on me and call me a sh*tty friend for not putting them as a priority. I told my boyfriend that I had plans almost every weekend—trying to maintain my single girlfriends and my boyfriend at the same time. This led to stumbling home late at night drunk, forgetting to text my boyfriend back. Or, people seeing me out at bars and assuming the worst about me—that I was cheating.
Truth be told, that relationship taught me a lot of lessons—especially because it didn’t last. Now, being in a much more serious relationship, much older, and a lot wiser—I’ve realized that there is nothing wrong with putting my boyfriend and my relationship first when I feel as though it’s better for me and the relationship overall.
I still have friends who are single—in fact, my best friend since 7th grade is single and always looking to mingle. But, now that I’m in my late 20’s and living with my SO, I know that there are things I will turn down and say no to, because the health of my relationship comes first. I’ve changed the way I interact with my friends—sometimes—because I know that there is a future to be had here at home.
This is someone that, eventually, I want to marry and raise a family with. So, if I know that he’s not super comfortable with me going to a party where I’ll run into my ex, or he doesn’t really want me wearing something super tight and revealing—I’m comfortable and okay with putting him, before others.
Does this mean that I’m distancing myself from my friendships entirely for my relationship? Absolutely not.
In all honesty, it’s learning how to maintain both my friendships and my relationship to keep everyone happy—but, most of all, keeping myself happy. My friends know that I’m not going to want to go out and play wing woman with them, drinking until 3 A.M. at the bar and stumbling home. They know that I’m not the girl who’s going to spontaneously hop a flight with them for a random vacation. They understand that I have someone in my life who is a factor in my decision making—and, they’re okay with it because they love me.
Good friends know that life has levels and phases. The girl who would go out every weekend and leave her boyfriend at home—it was a phase in my life, one that I learned from. Now, being in my late 20s, I’m more focused on my future. I’m focused on building my career, nurturing my relationship, and my friendships, but in a different light. I still see my friends frequently, and we talk every day. They know if they need me, I’d come running. But they know if it’s date night, I’m not available. They know that if my boyfriend needs me, I have to be there, too.
It’s not about completely turning your back on your friendships entirely, but it’s about finding those friends who understand that you’re in a new phase of your life—and, helping to adjust to that, too.