For the modern woman, keeping your girlfriends close can sometimes feel like a full-time job. Our careers and family obligations alone seem to consume all of our time. But the worst—and often the most unforgivable—impediment to our friendships may be a budding romance.
While romance is an understandable priority for many women, too often we allow it to consume our lives. It can get so bad that close friendships we have fostered for years become distant memories. But what happens when the whirlwind love affair ends? Or when it's just halted by business trips or a weekend with the boys? What happens is an awkward phone call to your girlfriends that goes something like this: “ Hey. . . . it’s me . . . Jess . . . . Gosh I guess it’s been forever . . . life has been so crazy. . . . Did you end up getting that job you were talking about three months ago? OK, call me back!”
As you hang up, panic and guilt drops in your stomach like a stone. Where have I been the last couple of months?
You have been in all-consuming-boyfriend-world, that's where. But don’t beat yourself up about it too much. Just remember that, like all relationships, nurturing your friendships takes intention. Luckily, your friends who love you will forgive you. But, for next time, here are six tips for maintaining your friendships while falling in love.
01. Treat Your Friendships Like Long-Distance Relationships
In a long-distance relationship we tend to be more conscious of the fact that we need to plan because seeing one another is a rarity. Let’s face it, when we are juggling a love life on top of everything else, seeing any of our friends is a rarity. So make it count.
Sending a “Just Thinking of You!” note when you live in the same city may seem silly at first, but your friends will appreciate this thoughtful gesture. Most importantly, a random card or note gives you the opportunity to offer your friends the verbal affirmation that many women tend to crave. Purchase some beautiful stationery in advance and plot out one Saturday a month to write and send a card to your friends. This is a habit that must be cultivated. It requires planning ahead and adding another item to your to-do list—but it's worth it.
PLAN A WEEKEND GETAWAY—A YEAR IN ADVANCE
When you have a romantic relationship to look after on top of everything else, it can be difficult to get proper girl-bonding time, even if you share the same apartment with your best friends. But a weekend reserved for your female friendships will give you the time to catch up on every facet of each other’s lives—and let's be honest, we love that—and will forge a bond that can survive the weeks or months of boy-induced separation to come. Setting aside dates for a girls' getaway far in advance will give your friends the long-distance attention they deserve.
02. Put Your Girl Time On Repeat
How many times do we throw out the casual “ We have to get together soon!” line but make no effort to follow through with a date? We're women of the 21st century, so put that Google Calendar to use and send a friend-date invite. Sending out a calendar invite for the first recurring dates, like Thirsty Thursday the first Thursday of every month, removes the stress of swapping dates the week before.
SET UP PHONE DATES WITH YOUR BESTIES ONCE A WEEK
Everybody has a down night, or at least you probably should. Choose a night of the week that works for both of you and stick to it. For instance, I know that Mondays are my most low-key nights because I’m winding down from the weekend and need to catch up on things like painting my nails and shaving my legs. So while I am in my bathrobe, I call my best bud. It doesn’t have to be long, just a time when you both know you will check in.
SET UP RECURRING BRUNCH
Fact: Everybody loves brunch. You can make it even easier by going to “that place with the bottomless Bloody Marys” and sticking with it every time. Another thought is to just alternate hosting brunch each month; it doesn’t have to be a feast, just an excuse to catch up.
03. Integrate Your Life
There seems to be an ever increasing trend of separating out the many different people in our lives. By the time we graduate from college, many of us will have college friends, high-school friends, work friends, and then our boyfriend. But it’s no wonder we can find balancing friendships stressful—we are literally juggling them, refusing to let them bump into one another. Quit the circus and let your friends mix; it makes it easier on you and gives your friends the opportunity to broaden their own circles.
CALL A HAPPY HOUR AND INVITE EVERYONE
My brother-in-law does this and I think it’s genius. Send out a Google Calendar or Facebook invite to all of your friends and then sit back and relax. Your friends will make new contacts while you touch base with a handful of your friends. If you're sick of happy hours, try arranging a hike. Hiking provides an excellent and natural way for people to mingle; you are usually walking two-by-two, but inevitably, someone falls behind and another person moves up!
It is a shame that more people don’t regularly double date. Invite your friend and her boyfriend for dinner or even just after-dinner drinks. If your friend is single, have your boyfriend produce a single friend to bring along too. This conveniently allows you to spend time with your boyfriend and girlfriend in a natural way and provides an opportunity for your friends to get to know your boyfriend—which helps when you need a second opinion.