Friends, dating and the opposite sex

by Eharmony Editorial Team - January 7, 2010

In a new relationship, it can be hard to introduce your partner to your opposite-sex friends. They may feel uncomfortable, and could have a few questions for you. Here’s how to deal with that tricky situation.

Sometimes our partners find themselves jealous of our opposite-sex friends. Whether it’s the girl you’ve known since you were five, or the university friend you’ve shared tons of experiences with, it can be tough for romantic partners to accept these friendships. Here’s how to tackle this dilemma so everyone ends up happy.

Talk about it

Communication is the key to any great relationship, and talking about opposite-sex friends is no exception. Talk about what your friends mean to you, and how you hope your friendship will continue. For example, how often you want to see them, whether your partner will be involved, and what your friends mean to you.

Also consider that now you are in a serious relationship, there may be some aspects of your current friendships that need toning down – for example, if you know you’re particularly flirtatious with one particular friend. Think about how your partner would feel if they saw you with them. On the flip-side, if you have a friend who is very supportive of your relationship, you may wish to spend more time with them.

Also remember, that everybody is different. Your partner may be particularly jealous of your opposite-sex relationships, or they may not be bothered at all. If your partner falls into the former category, it’s important to remember that while you should respect their wishes, you also need to have your own mind. If you feel they are being overly possessive, you may need to tackle them about their behaviour.

Protect your relationship

If you are dedicated to making your relationship work, you will need to ensure you have the balance right between spending time with your friends and your partner. And if there are aspects of your opposite-sex friendships that affect your relationship, then you may need to address these. You may even need to face up to the fact that your friendship will have to come to an end.

The test is whether or not you are being completely honest with your partner. If you find yourself lying about which friends you are meeting, or what you did, then you’re damaging your relationship by undermining your partner’s trust – and you obviously feel you have something to hide.

Get the balance right

While it’s important to focus on the health of your relationship, there’s no rule that says you need to choose between that and your friends. Friends – as we all know – are incredibly important for support, love and generally making us more rounded human beings. Just as you shouldn’t neglect your relationship in favour of your friends, don’t do the opposite.  After all, you probably have friendships that have lasted longer than many of your relationships.

Make a few rules

It’s up to you the boundaries set around friends in your relationship, but by setting these out early on you will avoid more conflict later. It also means your friends will understand right from the start. TO get your started, you might want to consider these ground rules:

•    Respect is paramount – by promising to respect each other, you’ll be able to trust each other when you’re apart.

•    Commit to honesty – this again engenders trust. You may agree to always tell each other where you’re going, and with whom. Or you might agree not to share certain aspects of your relationships with your friends

•    Don’t over share – by moaning too much, or sharing too much, with your friends about your relationship, you may give them a false impression of you and your partner. It’s important to talk things through, but if you’re talking more to your friends than your partner then it’s time to look at how you communicate within your relationship

Be prepared for change

As your relationship and your friendships change over time, so will some of your boundaries.  Be prepared to have new conversations with your partner about how you manage your relationships with your friends. By being conscious of your partner’s feelings, you will be able to have a healthier, happier relationship.