Balancing Friendships with Love Relationships
by Lynne Rominger

Sarah, Emily, and Allison have been best friends—a trio—since elementary school: eating lunch together every day; chatting on the phone all night; spending each weekend shopping together; sharing secrets, confidences, triumphs, and tragedies. But then Sarah began a serious relationship with a guy. When Emily started exclusively dating, too, Allison felt left out. "It's like they only want to do things when their boyfriends are busy. I feel so left out," cries Allison. To make matters worse, the junior prom is quickly approaching and Allison doesn't have a date. Hard feelings are brewing. Although Allison longs to tell her friends how hurt she is over their lack of interaction with her lately, she fears her words will be perceived as "sour grapes." But then again, she hurts over her best friends' sudden disinterest.

Meanwhile, things between Emily and Sarah aren't any better. Sarah had planned to visit colleges with Emily and her parents over Spring Break, but she cancelled at the last minute, opting instead to stay in town and not travel away from Jeremy, her boyfriend. Emily, who also has a boyfriend, was naturally hurt. How could Sarah choose to stay home when they'd planned the trip and she was Emily's best friend? "It was supposed to be our 'girlie' trip to San Diego ... the beach ... sightseeing ... shopping ... and she just bombed out on me!" laments Emily.

Ah, love! When you first start dating someone, you want to spend every minute with that person. The problem is that sometimes it's to the exclusion of your compadres. As Emily, Sarah and Allison have shown us, juggling your love life and friendships isn't easy. Moreover, both friendships and relationships can suffer without proper consideration for all parties involved. Many friendships have ended over a boyfriend or girlfriend. Face it—balancing your friendships with your love life is a common dilemma among high schoolers. Hurt feelings, lonely nights, and jealousies seem de rigueur, right?

While one person may say, "Your friends last forever, but guys come and go," another person professes, "C'est l'amour!" In reality, we all want to retain our friendships and keep the love life burning, too. So here are some ways to balance both.

50/50 Vision    to top

Instead of looking at your love relationship as an all or nothing prospect, plan on devoting half of your spare time to your friends. For example, go out with Mr. Wonderful on Friday night, and then go to the movies with your friends on Saturday.

Three's Company, Too    to top

Plan activities together—all together. Introduce your guy or girl to your friends, and do things in a group. When Kelly, a freshman, wasn't seeing enough of her best friend, Kim, after Kim got a boyfriend, she took the first step and invited the duo out to pizza with a group. Kelly and Kim got to hang out like old times, but Kim still got to hold hands with her beau. By all means, you can go out on your private dates, but consider activities that will bring together your friends and your love interest, too.

Relationship Rules    to top

Want to plan a group activity to introduce your steady to your friends? Some good choices include playing miniature golf, busting out the barbecue at a park or lake, going "en masse" to a concert, or attending a school athletic event.

It's the Little Things    to top

"When I'm going out with a guy and spending a lot of time with him," says one sophomore girl, "I make sure to call my girlfriends all the time!" Just keeping in contact can be a powerful tool in keeping your friendships alive when you're otherwise preoccupied with your sweetheart. Take time to make a quick phone call or to stop by and say "hi." Eat lunch with your friends and save contact with your honey until after classes end. These little things let your friends know you haven't forgotten them, yet still allow plenty of time for serious affection.

In the end, you love all your amigos and your amours, right? So, ultimately, it benefits you to nurture both. Perhaps the best advice comes from a teen that had this to say about the whole matter: "When you are in a relationship with anyone—boyfriend, girlfriend, friends, whoever—they should understand that there are things happening on both sides of the wall." As for Sarah, Emily, and Allison, well, they opted to make more time for their friendships with each other instead of devoting all their time to boyfriends. They were last seen making instant pudding together and having a sleepover, complete with make-up applications, pillow fights, and girl talk.

NOTE: Emily, Allison, and Sarah are pseudonyms.

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