(The Root) —
My friends say I spend all of my time with my boyfriend, but I feel that is normal, especially at the beginning of a relationship. They have stopped inviting me places, and the calls and texts are short. I love my boyfriend and my friends, but I can't deal with my friends' jealousy over my relationship. What do I do? —O.H.
Your friends are probably right about you spending too much time with your new boyfriend. I'm guessing that because you stated that you think it's normal to spend "all" of your time with him. Normal? Yes. A lot of people do it. Healthy, though? No, not at all.
What is natural is spending more time away from your friends as you get to know someone new. But your new interest shouldn't become your entire social network. The novelty will wear off and being together constantly will seem more like an obligation than a good time. Let your man miss you so when he sees you he can think, "I'm happy you're here!" Not "Oh, you again!" Womp, womp.
The old folk like to say, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." It's true. Don't abandon or ignore the new beau, but, well, get a life, or even better, remain active in the activities you enjoyed before you got together. Adding some mystery about yourself is more likely to keep him intrigued, too. Going off to do something that doesn't include him should enable you to have some quality conversation with him when you meet up. These things are extremely important in maintaining a healthy relationship.
Of course, keeping your friendships isn't just about keeping your man. It's about not tossing aside the people who have been there for you since long before he came around just because you're in a relationship. When women tell me that their partner says he is in love, but he does little to show it, I remind them: "Love is an action verb, not just an emotion." Feeling love for your friends is very nice, but you're not acting very loving by dismissing them for your shiny new interest.
And they've clearly picked up on that message. You're most likely not invited out anymore because every time they've recently asked you to meet up, you've declined (or worse, shown up with your guy unexpectedly). And the texts are short and the calls wrapped up quickly probably because of all the consistent signals you've been sending them that they are no longer a priority.
However, it's just as plausible that your friends, regardless of their relationship status, just plain ole miss you. They are probably hurt that you've not just taken them down a few levels on the list of things that matter to you, but you've cut them out of your life. Some of those short calls and gone-missing invites are likely attributed to being hurt as well.
Not to be a killjoy, but relationships are not guaranteed to last forever-ever. Of course, I'm rooting for you and your guy to go the distance. But if it doesn't, you are setting yourself up for a hard fall by alienating your other support systems. You've made one person the center of your social universe and that will make for an exceptionally hard breakup if ever he decides he wants out of your orbit.
Start fixing this situation with stepping off your high horse just a bit, and apologizing to your friends for going AWOL on them. Then make plans (if they're up for it) for some sort of girls' night out. Continue this good will by making time for them on a regular basis and taking an interest in their lives — you know, like how you used to. You're not obligated to accept every invite or immediately respond to every text or call, but unless you want to be put on pause again, you'll need to make an effort to show you're currently participating in the friendship.
Give your man a head's up when you're hanging with the ladies. All sane men want their significant others to have a social life — the guys who don't are waving red flags. Run! (But that's another topic for another day.) As long as the two of you didn't have concrete plans, you're likely to find that he's relieved and looking forward to having time to hang with his own friends, watch the game or just be alone with his thoughts.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.