A Collegiette's Guide to Balancing Friendships & Relationships

College can often feel like an unintentional crash course in time management. Your parents are hassling you about plans for the future. Your study group wants to push the meeting date to Friday instead of Sunday. Your chemistry professor needed that paper turned into his office, like, two hours ago. Throw in an exciting new relationship that begs for all of your attention and some friends who feel more than a little bit neglected, and it becomes obvious that sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day.

But while mom and dad can wait, and your stellar grades won’t drop too much from one bad score, friendships and relationships aren’t always as easy to figure out. A lot of the time friends are unfortunately pushed to the side. While we can’t instruct you on the perfect method to splitting your time, we do have some tips for making the balancing act a bit easier — and how to work your way out of those pesky fights that can happen.

Don’t Blow Off Traditions

Whether you make a ritual of splitting a cupcake on the first day of summer or watching The Bachelortogether every Monday night, don’t skip out on the tradition. Missing a night of sitting on the couch judging grown women as they fight over a floppy-haired winemaker might not seem like a big deal, but sometimes the smallest things can matter the most. Let your boyfriend know how much these dates mean to your friendship, and that they’re nonnegotiable. He might not understand the importance of a quarterly frosted treat meet-up, but he’ll hopefully be able to respect how much it means to you.

Be Present

As fantastic as being able to stay in constant contact with your beau is, make your best effort to set the phone down while with your friends. Don’t stalk his Facebook on your iPhone. Don’t text him every five seconds. And certainly don’t sneak off and call him to check in. What good is spending time with the girls if your mind is somewhere else the entire night? Give them the attention they deserve. (FYI: The same principle holds true for when you are hanging with your guy. Focus on him rather than burying your face in your cell.)

Come Together

You can’t be two places at once, but you can certainly hang out with more than one person at a time. Bring all of your friends and your guy’s friends together for a joint party. This way, everyone can start putting faces to names and getting to know one another better. And who knows? Maybe (with a little unsolicited help from you…) two of your friends will hit it off and become the perfect double date couple!

Don’t Be a Complainer

Friends and boyfriends are usually there to listen when you need to vent. But constantly complaining about your beau to your girls or vice versa will only produce some negative feelings that don’t need to be circling your relationships. Remember, you’re trying to find a balance between two groups pulling you in totally different directions. But discussing the bitchy move your friend always pulls and then bailing on your guy to hang out with her won’t put you in his good graces.

So what happens when things go awry and arguments ensue? These girls share their experiences — and we tell you how to handle them.

“Once I met my boyfriend, I wanted to spend all of my time with him. Unfortunately, I began to let some of my friendships slip away. I knew I wasn't treating my friends right, but it didn't really hit me until a close friend made a direct comment about it. I mentioned over dinner that I was going to my boyfriend's apartment later that night, and she rolled her eyes and said, ‘Of course you are.’ Since then, I've made a serious commitment to see my friends more regularly. I love my boyfriend, but my friends are so important to me. I don't want to lose them!” –Amanda, NYU*
Lesson: If a friend voices her opinion — no matter how sarcastic or subtle — listen. Talk to her about the issue, and find ways to better the situation.

“My friend started dating a new guy about a month ago, and she spends all of her time with him. The problem is a lot of our friends don't even like the guy she is dating and openly show their distaste. It’s getting kind of mean. At first, I was not a fan of my friend's boyfriend, but I see how happy he makes her, and I try to stay supportive. Our other friends fight with her about ditching us for him and even gossip about what a terrible person he is behind her back! My friend says she already feels like she is being left out of things because of her boyfriend. I think the best thing that you can do for a friend who is going through a conflict like this is to be there for her.” –Annie, UCSD*
Lesson: When it’s your friend who’s got the boyfriend, treat her how you would want to be treated. Even if you hate the guy, gossiping behind her back and leaving her out of things won’t solve any problems. Sit her down, and politely explain your concerns. Wouldn’t you want the same?

“My ex-boyfriend didn’t like some of my friends. He would enjoy playing dumb mind games with them instead of respecting the fact that I was trying to work on my friendships. As hard as I tried to separate the two situations, his actions unfortunately put a temporary strain on my friendships with the people he didn't like. The ugly truth is not everyone's going to like everyone. But it should be a major red flag if your boyfriend is being immature by adding fuel to the fire and not respecting your wishes.” –Kelsey, Boston University
Lesson: It’s true that friends and boyfriends can clash every now and then, but a level of respect is still necessary.

It may be clichéd, but good things are worth fighting for. It isn’t impossible to juggle successful and healthy relationships with your friends and boyfriend at the same time — it just takes a little bit of work. We know you can do it.

Are you guilty of ditching your girls when a new guy comes into your life? Have you ever had a friend mistreat you when things got hot and heavy with her beau? Do tell!

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