When your partner seems to want to spend time with his (or her) friends instead of with you, it not only hurts, it’s bad for your relationship too. Thinking that you are the “have to” for your partner instead of the “want to” can leave you feeling neglected and insecure.
Jealousy, resentment and conflicts come fast and furious and can destroy your relationship if you don’t address what’s going on.
This is what’s tearing Karen and her boyfriend Sam apart. When they started dating, Karen knew how close Sam was to his buddies. In fact, Karen’s cousin is one of his closest friends and is the one who introduced her to Sam.
She thought it was wonderful that Sam has such a tight bond with his friends and that, even though they’re all busy with careers and some with families, they keep their commitment to get together at least once a week. Now that Karen and Sam have dated for over a year, her opinion has changed.
Because Karen and Sam both have demanding jobs which involve frequent travel, finding quality time together is a challenge. Whenever a free evening comes up, it seems like he checks with his friends first and then, if they’re unavailable, he’ll ask Karen to get together. It’s become a common occurrence for Karen and Sam to argue about his friends and she’s starting to wonder if he’s only staying with her for the sex.
When it feels like you come second and your partner’s friends come first, stop and assess the situation. Get clear about the facts when it comes to the quantity and quality of the time you and your partner spend together compared with his time with friends.
Make sure you aren’t making up a story in your mind that just isn’t true. When you talk to him about it, follow these 3 tips…
#1: Don’t make him choose.
As much as you want your partner to prove that he loves being with you, don’t ask him to give up his friends. You’ll push him farther away and risk his resentment if you do. Perhaps one of the worst things for your relationship is to make him choose.
Even if you “win,” you’ll lose in the long run.
Shift your perspective by considering the possibility that there IS enough time for you and your partner to connect on a regular basis and for you both to have fulfilling friendships with other people too. Your partner’s friends don’t have to be a threat to your relationship and when you stop viewing them in that way, the walls come down and solutions to your relationship problems are more easily found.
#2: Appreciate the benefits.
You might not like your partner’s friends all that much. Maybe they get on your nerves or even seem like a negative influence on your beloved. Even given this, invite yourself to find something to appreciate.
Start out by looking for aspects of your relationship with your partner that you can genuinely appreciate. When a challenge comes up, it’s easy to only see the troubles and to dismiss or ignore what you really like and enjoy about your relationship. Take a closer look at and celebrate what’s going well for you two. Next, think about your partner’s friendships and do the same thing.
#3: Ask for what you want.
When you find things to appreciate about your partner’s friendships, this does not mean you have silently suffer and feel neglected. The way you communicate how you feel and what you want makes all the difference.
Focus on what you want more of instead of concentrating your talk on what it’s been like or what happened in the past.
Instead of “You never spend time with me!” say, “I have missed you lately. I’d like to set up a weekly date night so that we can have some alone time together. Will you look at the calendar with me and see what we can come up with?” Create agreements with your partner that provide the regular connection you want while also allowing you both to do things independently, like spend time with friends.
Make sure that when you two are together, you are really present which might mean you turn off the computer and tv and set aside your phones. And it definitely means you commit to enjoying being together right here and right now.
Want to know how to say what you’ve got to say the right way? Check out Susie and Otto Collins’ 500 Communication Tips and Secrets at www.500communicationtips.com.