Once you start dating someone, you’ll soon come to realize that it’s not exactly easy to maintain your other friendships, especially those with other guys. No matter who your new boyfriend is, he’s probably going to be at least a little concerned knowing you constantly hang out around other men. To curb possible jealousy, suspicion, or tension, here are a few tips for keeping your guy friends close, but your boyfriend closer.
- Establish trust early on. From the first day you meet or hook up, you don’t want to start on the wrong foot. No guy wants his girlfriend hanging out with a bunch of other dudes, so it’s up to you to show you’re trustworthy from the very beginning. Don’t give him a reason to doubt what you say or do.
- Be open about where you’re going and what you’re doing. You don’t have to give him every detail about what you do with your friends, but don’t seem like you’re hiding things because that could just make him suspicious. If you regularly hang out at a guy friend’s place with several other friends watching movies, be honest about it. Don’t just say “I’m going to Danny’s place. See ya!” In other words, don’t let his mind wander.
- Introduce them to each other. This one works wonders if all your guy friends are completely unattractive and out of your league (am I being mean, or just plain honest?). If your boyfriend meets them, he’ll realize there’s nothing to worry about. But even if they’re not that bad, it’s still a good idea for you to introduce them anyway, just so that your boyfriend can see they’re harmless.
- Include him when you hang out. Nothing shows you care more about someone than inviting them to hang out with you (well, maybe a few other things). Let your boyfriend know he’s always welcome to accompany you. Just make sure you’re now close enough that your friends can’t possibly embarrass you or wreck your relationship. We all know the kind of stuff our guy friends are capable of.
- Be ready to change certain behaviors. Now that you have a boyfriend, your guy friends have to also understand that things between you might have to change. Maybe they shouldn’t be sitting as close to you on the couch anymore, or giving you a piggyback ride (hey, I don’t know how close you are to your guy friends). Whatever it is you do that could weird your boyfriend out, you might want to stop, just for his sake. Unless, of course, you tell him and he’s completely fine with it for some reason.
- Let him know about past histories. If you happen to have any history with a guy friend you still see and hang out with regularly, it might be a good idea to tell your boyfriend about it early on in the relationship. This is something you don’t want him to find out about after months of dating because it could ruin your relationship and break all trust.
- Be open to making compromises, but only those that are reasonable. Most relationships come with compromises. You’re not going to have all the freedoms you used to have, but don’t let your boyfriend call all the shots either. It’s unfair to you if he demands you never see your friends again, so have a talk and figure out what he’s comfortable with and what bothers him, and go from there. If he ends up making you choose between him and your guy friends, he’s probably not as great a guy as you thought.
- Return the favor. If he’s fine with you hanging out with guys, you need to also be okay with him hanging out with other girls. Maybe he has a lot of women friends. Treat him like you’d want to be treated. The trust has to be mutual for it to work, so make sure you’re open to him being around other women. If the thought of that makes you foam at the mouth, you’re going to have a tough time convincing him that you can be trusted while he can’t.
Why you should keep your guy friends even when you have a boyfriend
It goes without saying that many men aren’t all that comfortable with their girlfriends being close with other guys, but that doesn’t mean you should just ditch your platonic male pals once you’re coupled up. Here’s why it’s worth preserving those relationships.
- It could have a negative impact on your relationship. You are who you hang out with, as they say, and if your guy friends were a big part of your life when you met your boyfriend, that shouldn’t change now. In fact, it may even put a strain on your romantic relationship. “When we give up aspects of ourselves, including meaningful friendships, we stop being the person our partner fell in love with,” says Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and relationship expert. “We lose our vitality, and the relationship suffers.”
- You don’t want to be one of those girls who ditches her friends for a guy. You’ve probably been friends with lots of women who suddenly go AWOL when they start dating someone new. It’s like they suddenly have no time for you and couldn’t care less about your friendship anymore. Just because the friends you’re ditching happen to be male, that’s no reason to ditch them.
- You’re setting a dangerous precedent. By allowing your new boyfriend to set the standards for who you can be friends with/hang out with, you’re sending the message that you’re cool with letting him call the shots not just in your relationship, but in your life as a whole. It could pave the way for a very controlling situation that ends with you being isolated and unhappy, and it starts with something little like this.
- Who’s going to be there for you when your relationship ends? Sure, maybe you and your boyfriend will live happily ever after, but what happens if you don’t? While most solid friends will still be there for you when you get your head out of your own butt and start to pay attention to them again, but it wouldn’t be wrong of them if they weren’t. Romantic relationships very often come and go, but friends are forever. Keep your guy friends as close as your girlfriends — they’re the ones who will be there for you should it all fall apart with the man you’re dating.
- It’s not your job to assuage your boyfriend’s ego. If your boyfriend is intimidated by you having friends of the opposite sex despite the fact that you’re open, honest, and upfront with him about what you’re doing and with whom, that’s his problem. You shouldn’t have to remove people from your life just because he’s too insecure to deal with the fact that he’s not the only man in your life. As long as you know you’re not doing anything wrong and you’ve given your boyfriend no reason to be jealous/worry that there’s something going on, the rest is on him.