We all need a life and interests distinct from our ‘coupled’ life. Research is increasingly showing that couples with friends and interests that are distinct from the friends and interests they share as a couple have stronger and more enduring relationships. You become more interesting and fulfilled if you have interests and friends that are just yours… as opposed to only doing things or hanging out with people you have in common.
But what’s the right balance? Is there a point at which your outside friends and interests creating too much distance between you and your spouse?
To be clear, I think having friends that are just yours is critical. But I have seen situations where a couples life became so distinct and separate that they kind of stopped having a relationship with each other.
Here are some danger signs to watch for
1. Is one partner consistently choosing time with their friends over time with their partner? It is great to have outside friends but you don;t want to lose your connection with your partner.
2. Does one partner have lots of outside friends and interests and the other has none. This is a recipe for resentment and jealousy
3. Where are you putting your best energy. This is similar to #1, but I’m a strong believer that you get out of a relationship what you put in. You need to make sure that, irrespective of outside interests and friends, you are putting energy and enthusiasm into your relationship. It is the only way to keep things fresh and fun as a relationship matures
4. Watch for signs that a friend-crush is turning into something more. We all get crushes on friends. It is fun, flirty and titilating… and fine. But be careful that it stays at the low-burn level. Crushes can turn to affairs, and unless you’re in an open relationship… this is not cool.
Have a fun weekend with your friends and/or partners.