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How to balance your relationship with your friendships

Elise Stephens blogs about relationships, life, and inspiration at www.elisestephens.com. She received the Eugene Van Buren Prize for Fiction from the University of Washington in 2007. Her novel Moonlight and Oranges was a quarter-final...

Don't leave your friends behind

You had your own friends before you met your man. So did he. How about now? Have those friendships stayed intact or are they dwindling? Have these other friendships died out completely? Romantic relationships tend to take center stage, but how much is too much?

Woman having coffee with friend

Some things to think about:

Boys will be boys, and you're not a boy

No matter how long you’ve been together, you’re still going to need a break from the opposite sex. He needs this, too (some men more than others). Make sure he gets time with the dudes -- encourage him to take it, if necessary -- and do the same for yourself. Schedule your girls’ and guys’ nights for the same evening or weekend day to optimize your time. You'll both return to the relationship refreshed, and your friends won't feel discarded.

Don't make everything a date

Invite your single and coupled up friends with you to the movies, drinks or dinner. Make the effort to keep your activities as open as possible. You'll still have time to be exclusive if you're prioritizing a one-on-one date night each week. If you’re in a place where you feel like you don’t have time to see other friends, this is a great remedy.

Make the time

If you're super busy and really want to see a particular friend, schedule the time. People in relationships often have the bad habit of just "hanging out" with their significant other because it takes less effort. Don’t let laziness make your other friends feel forgotten. Even if you invite them to visit while you shop for groceries or go for a jog after work, it’s a step in the right direction.

It takes a village

You two lovebirds can't solve all your problems in a vacuum. Surround yourself with a good community. As fun and exclusive as it can feel to take lots of nights in with just the two of you, this isn’t sustainable. When you have a bad fight, miscommunications or just need a break from each other, community is essential. And not just for the hard times. Community strengthens the two of you as you learn from others around you. And the world still very much needs both of you, even after you’ve found each other.

Watch: Girlfriends

Kate Walsh discusses those relationships that withstand the test of time and the type of friends that will always be there for you.

More relationship advice

How to move past your bedroom hang-ups
Attracting a love that will last forever
3 Ways to curb your jealous streak

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