Friendships are a necessary part of a happy, fulfilling life. But sometimes a friendship takes up a lot of emotional energy that is needed for your primary relationship. Maybe you spend a lot of recreation time with a friend at the expense of your mate. Or you've become overinvolved with a friend's personal problems. Or maybe you find yourself growing attracted to your friend. These guidelines will help you sort things out.
Spend more recreational time with your mate than with your friends. It isn't just the amount of time you spend with friends that is at issue, but how much that compares with time spent with your partner. If you routinely spend more recreational time with friends than with your partner, your primary relationship will start to wither.
Ask yourself "How often do I say yes to friends and no to my partner?" Not uncommonly, people tell a spouse or partner "Not right now." "I'll do it later." "I don't feel like it." And yet they'll immediately say yes to a friend who calls. And it can apply to help as well as recreation. Often a spouse will put off doing needed repairs around the house, but finds the time to help a friend fix a roof. It's OK to drop everything for a friend in need; just make sure you do the same for your partner.
Don't be your friend's therapist. A good friend is a good listener and cares about a friend's personal life, but if your friend is not in an immediate crisis and his or her personal problems are complicated and won't get resolved quickly, you may need to draw the line on how often you give advice or become a shoulder to cry on. Set up times to talk rather than making yourself available on a moment's notice. It's OK to tell a friend that you need some family time and that you will get together later.
Set stricter limits with friends you are attracted to. One of the more common ways affairs start is when people who are "just friends" develop feelings for one another. Ask yourself these questions: Am I sexually attracted to my friend? Do I fantasize about him or her fairly regularly? Do I keep some of my contacts with my friend secret from my partner? Do I have more intimate conversations with my friend than with my partner? Do I ever fall asleep at night thinking romantically about my friend? If your answer is "yes" to any of these questions, your friendship has gone too far. If you don't wish to damage your primary relationship, your best bet is to reduce the quality and quantity of time you spend with that friend, and make sure you are not engaging in any flirtatious behavior. If you wish to spend time with your friend, make sure your partner tags along. Speak highly of your partner when in the company of your friend.
Improve the quality of your committed relationship. Having a subpar marriage is like having a weakened immune system: It makes you vulnerable to opportunistic viruses. If you'd rather spend time with friends than with your partner, changes are in order. Jump-start things by doing something very fun together, something you will laugh out loud or get thrilled about. In other words, do something together that will get your heart racing (go to a comedy club, visit an amusement park, hike up a mountain that has spectacular views and so on). Then "sweeten" the relationship even more by doing one or two things more per day that will make your partner feel special or will make his day go easier. Finally, add daily extra doses of tender affection. If your relationship is a bit stale, these things will give it some flavor, and spending too much time with a friend will be less of an issue.report abuse