With the allure of a new relationship, many girls find themselves interested in nothing else than their new man. Part of this appeal is because having a boyfriend in college is a totally new experience from high school relationships. Without inquisitive parents keeping a watchful eye on your activities, you’re able to have impromptu sleepovers, go out for lunch, skip class to hang out, and avoid studying for tests so you can have movie night. But with this newfound freedom, it’s easy to ignore other responsibilities and friendships in order to nurture a new relationship. Chances are, you’ve experienced this or seen a friend go through it.
As a single girl throughout most of my college years, I’ve watched friends lose themselves in a new relationship. I was always there for them after it ended (or after the honeymoon stage wore off) but I was also constantly telling myself I would never be like that. Confession: I have become that girl. At least I sort of have. A couple of weeks ago, I missed two class assignments in a row because I was out with my new man. Those angry dash marks where my grades should’ve been made me reevaluate my time. And after talking with a few collegiettes™, I come to you with advice on how to avoid becoming me, err, that girl who spends all her time with her boyfriend.
1. Make time for your friends
It’s likely that there was a period in the beginning of your college life when you were inseparable from your new friends. But once you start a new relationship, it’s tempting to spend all of your free time with your boyfriend instead of them. They may understand initially, but making this a habit will probably anger them and sever that once unbreakable bond. Do not depend on random “wanna chill?” texts because it will fail you. Irene S. Levine, author of Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Break-Up With Your Best Friend, says “It’s natural that two people would want to focus on each other early on in a romantic relationship. Yet women need to keep in mind that it’s healthy to maintain female friendships too. They need to make sure that they set aside time for girlfriends so that you can keep up these relationships.”
Levine recommends planning girls’ night out or becoming workout buddies to ensure that you won’t loose touch. This has worked for Northwestern University junior Sara*, who is familiar with this dilemma. “My really good friend is in a serious relationship with her boyfriend, but none of my friends ever saw her fall quarter, and we all got pretty upset with her,” says Sara. “Now, we all try to plan a monthly ‘girls brunch’ during the weekend to catch up. While she still is obsessed with her boyfriend, we are no longer obsessed with trying to get her attention, and everyone seems to be happier.”Maintaining plans is imperative if you want to keep your friendships.
2. Study with your boyfriend
Maintaining old friendships is important, but keeping up with your other activities is also essential in maintaining a healthy relationship. However, it’s not as easy as it seems. So try combining the two. On nights that you’d love to see your boyfriend but have work that needs to be done, create a studying-friendly environment in your dorm (or at your apartment, depending on where you live) or walk to the library together. Studying at the same time allows you to bond without slacking on your work. Don’t limit the multi-tasking to studying! Chances are you both have to grocery shop or make dinner. You’ll be able to cross off your to-do list and see your beau.
3. Have other people hold you accountable
It’s easy to tell when you need to choose work or old friends over your man, but convincing yourself to cancel plans with him can still be difficult. A roommate or friend, however, doesn’t suffer from this emotional conflict. “I tell my mom to make sure I split my time equally. She will be blunt with me,” says Nicole Lumbreras, HC Campus Correspondent and student at the University of Iowa. If you don’t chat with your family every day, ask your roommate to look out for you. Someone who cares about you and talks with you on a daily basis can help keep you in check.
4. Guarantee that he has guy time
His friends may not be as open about it, but they probably miss him too. Guy nights are great for his social life and for yours! Tulane student and HC Campus Correspondent Catherine Combs and her boyfriend “set a rule that [they do] at least one night out or one day with [their] friends and not each other.” While he’s playing poker with his group, you can finish up homework or go out with your girlfriends. Spending time apart is just as important as spending time together.
5. Be up front with him
Chances are, you’re not the only one slacking on responsibilities in this relationship. Talking about this time misplacement with your boyfriend is important, says Levine. “College is a wonderful time to meet new people and have experiences. You both would be missing out if you spent your time exclusively with each other,” she adds. Make it clear how important your work is to you and he’ll respect that (and if not, you know he’s not worth dating!). If you’re hoping to have a sleepover but know you’ll be more inclined to go out to breakfast than to class after you wake up, stress to him the importance of your attending class. Talk to your boyfriend about practicing self-control with your relationship and decide together when you should spend time apart or with each other.
6. Already guilty?
For those girls who have already damaged the connection between them and their girlfriends, Levine suggests an honest apology. “Their friends know they dumped them and there’s no getting around it,” she notes. Admitting that you were wrong but are ready to make an effort is the best way to start fresh. “If they are really good friends they’ll understand and be forgiving,” Levine encourages.
Whether you decide to mimic those eventful Sex and the City brunches with your crew or entitle your boyfriend as a new study buddy, a new relationship doesn’t mean that other friends and activities have to fall to the wayside. One of the many traits your boyfriend probably admires about you is your dedication to your friends and your passion for your extracurriculars, and these are most likely qualities you admire in yourself. It’s important not to lose yourself in your relationship and spending too much together can do just that.
*Name changed to avoid offending a certain friend
Irene S. Levine, PhD, Author, Best Friends Forever: Surviving A Break-Up With Your Best Friend