Dating 101: Friends vs. Boyfriends

By Sarah Butcher on February 13, 2013

In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, let’s talk about relationships.

Relationships are new and exciting and we sometimes have a tendency to let them consume everything we do. “Sorry, we’re busy that day.” “I’m going out with ____ tonight.” “Did I tell you what my boyfriend did the other day?” You know the drill. I’m not a stranger to playing the role of friend of the girlfriend. One of my best friends has been in a relationship for over six years now so I’m used to hearing “Brad and I” [name changed] every time I talk to her; however, my single best friend and myself both recently went from being “single” at the start of college to “in a relationship” and I’ve noticed that there is a fine line between being a good girlfriend while being a good friend.

Photo by Sarah Butcher

Friendships are important. The last person I want to be (and I hope you feel the same way) is the girl that ignores her friends the entire time she has a boyfriend and then goes running back to them the moment the relationship falls apart.

We’re young, 20-something college students and having a boyfriend (or girlfriend) feels like the next big investment, but don’t forget the people that have been in your life. Balancing life, school, work, friendships, family, and all the rest can be hard, I know.

Here are some of my own musings on how to incorporate the social life you had before your significant other entered the picture.

Don’t let being a We stop you from being a You.

1. Spend time apart
You’re in love. You can’t stand a moment away from each other. Well, you should. Spending time apart from your boyfriend/girlfriend is healthy. It doesn’t have to be a long amount of time here. Just putting a single day of “alone time” in between every couple days will give you some breathing time and let you miss each other. It’ll give you time to appreciate each other and yourself. Remember that being content by just being you is important to any relationship. If you can’t spend a single night without your boyfriend/girlfriend while reading a book, doing homework, watching TV, or just being home then you need to either 1) Get married or 2) Re-evaluate your relationship.

2. Group dates: Make room for other people
Being social is a great way to include your other friends while spending time together. I love group dates! They don’t have to be huge. One or two other couples are fine. And here’s the kicker, you don’t have to sit next to your boyfriend/girlfriend the entire time! Engage with other people. Find out how your friends are doing.

Group outings don’t have to be strictly couple nights. Invite your friends to hang out with you. Have a game night. I love hanging out with my boyfriend and my roommates together. It completely changes our dynamics and lets me see an entirely different side to him.

3. Quality time with friends
Repeat after me – Spending time with my friends is IMPORTANT. You are more than just your relationships. I’ve been blessed to have some amazing friends and I never want to lose them due to negligence or stupidity. Spending time with my friends without my boyfriend is something that I try to do at least once a week. I’ve often told my best friend that spending time with her and our boyfriends doesn’t feel like we’re spending time together. Quality time matters. Just because you see someone doesn’t mean that you’re investing time into them.

Set aside time to keep building your relationship with your friends. My roommate (Amanda) and I have date nights together. Even though we live together and I see her every day it’s still important to let her know that I cherish the moments I spend with her.


Photo by Brendan Ranney

Relationships can be wonderful. Your significant other can bring out a part of you that you never knew existed. Just remember that you are not your relationship and the amount of time you invest in your friends should be just as important as the amount of time you invest in your boyfriend/girlfriend.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner make sure you express your love and appreciation to all the people that enrich your life. Don’t let it pass by as just another Hallmark holiday.

One more thing. To my best friend, who never stopped investing in our friendship even after becoming a “we,” thank you.  

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