You’ve often seen how quickly friendships tend to fade away when you begin dating. You may also have been on the receiving end of this wherein a best friend getting into a relationship seems to be out of sight and out of mind. But friendships are important, right? The people who keep us grounded, answer our rants at 2 AM, ignore the badly-made noodles and are always around for a drink. Shouldn’t these friendships stick no matter whether we’re in a relationship or not? Here’s how you keep the intimacy intact in your friend circle.
Why do people prioritise their partner over friendships?
BAE. The commonly used phrase for a significant other or partner, the phrase means Before Anyone Else and true to its name it indicates that you have prioritised this person above everyone else around you. But why?
Well, of course, the reason ‘because I love them’ is evident, but there is a psychological basis to this comparison too. Estepha Francisque, a therapist in Oakland, California says that “as European culture spread across the West, so did this idea of romanticism. As a result, we tend to idealize our romantic partner as ‘The End-All-Be-All’ who’ll meet all of our needs.” He goes on to say that the more and more we do that, the less and less emphasis we place on just the really good, intimate friendship, which is arguably just as important, if not more.
Is it important to maintain intimacy with friends?
One cannot ignore that within a group of friends there is a certain kind of intimacy. You consider these people as your closest aides, ones you turn to in times of crisis and look to for advice. These are people you are afraid of losing and have memories that go way back in time in cases of childhood friendships. The intimacy that you share with these people is platonic, free from sex or romance, just friendship.
Why is platonic intimacy important to living?
Sex And The City, Veere Di Wedding, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, have brought out the message loud and clear. No matter how your love life is going, your friends will always have your back and these are relationships that are so vital. Francisque’s thoughts on the subject suggest that even psychology is in line with the message of these blockbusters. “Platonic intimacy can enrich you as an individual. Rather than relying on your romantic partner for fulfilment, you can have diverse experiences with as many friends as you want — since, unlike with romantic relationships, there’s no concept of monogamy in a friendship. Through these interactions, you grow not only intellectually, but emotionally, too expanding your ability to connect with different people.”
“Healthy, intimate friendships filled with quality interactions and experiences leave us ‘energized’ and ‘filled up’,” Francisque says. “If these intimate friendships are making the individuals in the relationship healthier overall, that naturally then makes the relationship healthier.”
How to maintain intimate friendships?
If you have noticed your friends drifting away with the start of your relationship, don’t worry. You can get it back. Here’s something that might help.
Make an effort
Your single friends may assume you’re busy now that you’re in a relationship. So, make an effort to show them that you still are interested in what they have to say, what’s going on in their lives and how they’re doing.
Keep the love intact
You and your friend shared common interests, concerns and even inside jokes. Don’t let that be lost in time. Keep the spark alive in the friendship too and when they need you, be there for them. “By knowing your intimate friend’s love language, you know exactly how to make sure that they receive that message of love,” Francisque says.
Don’t make it all about yourself
A common tendency may be to tell your friend all about your relationship, how it's going, what you love about it, the problems and the good parts. But bear in mind that you are not engaging in a conversation for it to be all about you. Instead, ask them how they are doing, give them a chance to share, and then of course y’all can discuss you.
Validate their feelings
Whether it’s about them venting about being single, or them complaining that the two of you don’t spend time anymore, or even them talking about their life, their feelings are important. Make them feel like they can trust you and you understand what they are going through.
“By slowing down and taking time to acknowledge those feelings, that helps the person to feel seen and validated, Francisque says. “That’s going to incentivize them to open up to you more in the future.”
Your friendships are important. You don’t want to lose this set of people over anything.