There are several situations that can result in a significant other being your only friend: you have distanced yourself from your friends because of the SO, your friends become jealous of your relationship and distance themselves from you, the SO and the friends do not get along, and so on. What should you do in these situations? Is it healthy for your social life to revolve around one person? How can you handle this dynamic if you have no choice in the matter? HC teamed up with some experts to get the facts on buddying up with your partner.
When you find yourself in a situation where your SO is your only friend, it is helpful to determine what the problem is. If your friends have isolated you because of your boyfriend, then getting some new friends might be the answer. If your boyfriend wants you all to himself, which can be sweet in some situations, it may be cause for concern. In some cases, you may have no control over the number of people you feel close to, but it is important to make sure that you are comfortable with the circumstances of your relationships, because if you and your SO break up, it could be cause for disaster.
Your friends may be the problem
Maybe it isn’t your fault that your SO is your only friend. People can be mean, and not all of us have such great luck when it comes to making friends. Personally, I was in a relationship in high school where I had been phased out of a friend group once I got a boyfriend and then I stayed with my boyfriend (even though it was a toxic relationship) because he was my only friend at school. After we broke up, I became extremely depressed because I was so isolated at school (among other reasons). In response to a situation like this, Beverly Hills psychiatrist and author, Dr. Carole Lieberman advises, “If you aren’t careful to keep nurturing your relationships with friends, even though you’re in a romantic relationship, the thought of breaking up with your boyfriend seems impossible, even if he turns out to be a jerk. It may seem like the lesser of two evils to stay with a jerk than to be at school with no one to talk to at all. But, you can prevent being in this no-win situation by making an effort to keep your friends, even if it means spending less time with your boyfriend.”
In cliché terms, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I learned this lesson when I got to college. Before meeting my college boyfriend, I had been phased out of another friend group and found myself in a somewhat similar situation. While my boyfriend was my only friend for a while, I slowly developed new friendships that lasted throughout my relationship with my boyfriend. When I felt it was time to end that relationship, I felt confident that I could handle it because I had friends to support me, unlike the last time.
Don’t be too focused on your SO
Especially if it is your first love, it is easy to become immersed in a relationship. When you’re in love with love, you want to relish in that happiness, which may alienate you from others. Dr. Lieberman says, “When you’re in love, it is easy to let the rest of the world slip away because you are so focused on your boyfriend. It seems like he’s the only one who matters.” As a result of this, you may find that your friends don’t matter as much, Dr. Lieberman adds, since you are so obsessed with your new beau. “Suddenly, you find that your boyfriend is your only friend. This puts you in a very risky situation because you become more dependent upon your boyfriend for everything, which soon makes him feel like you’re suffocating him. Now you don’t have any friends to turn to.”
Collegiette Sara* says, “Forming a close relationship with your boyfriend is crucial, but relying on him for absolutely everything can (and, in all likelihood, will) lead to trouble because it’s a limiting situation. He may feel as though making sure you have someone to spend time with is his responsibility. In time, it’s possible that they responsibility will become a burden.” You don’t want a relationship to be based on one party feeling sorry for the other, and it is possible that in a situation where your SO is your only friend, they may feel just that.
While this may seem like a grim perspective, it is a common situation that many young girls face, particularly when in their first relationship. If friends are jealous of you flaunting your relationship in their faces, they will not want to be around you as much. In addition, if your friends do not get along with your SO, they will isolate you because you are associated with him. If you feel that they are truly good friends, remember to show them that they are still important to you. More importantly, you had an identity before you met your SO, and your friends helped shape that identity. So don’t lose yourself when you start a relationship.
Ignore the negative commentary
Sometimes you can be in a healthy, great relationship, but your SO is your only friend. While you may think this is okay, Dr. Lieberman warns, “It makes a guy wonder if there’s something wrong with a girl who doesn’t have a buzzing social life or at least a few good friends. He’ll ask himself if he’s missing your fatal flaw that makes everyone else steer clear.”
As with anything even slightly out of the ordinary, people may gossip about a relationship wherein one or both parties’ only friend is each other. Dr. Lieberman explains, “When one or both partners don’t have any other friends, it makes people wonder about their relationship. Are they hiding something kinky or twisted? Are they doing something that they don’t want others to know about? Are they misfits who are only able to find one other person to like them? These are the questions that go through other people’s minds and make them uncomfortable.” While understanding why people think and act the way they do, even when something is none of their concern, is important, it is also important to live your own life. If you are happy being in a relationship with your best friend, so be it. Don’t allow other people dictate your happiness. In the same way, if your SO questions why you have no friends, show him that everyone has flaws, but that you are more than the people you surround (or don’t surround) yourself with.
Relationships, like friendships, can be tricky. Put together, they are even more work. When you are in a new relationship, it is always important not to lose yourself, but also not to lose your friends. On the other hand, being in a relationship may show you who your real friends are. If you make an effort to maintain your friendships when you are in a relationship, and your friends still reject you, maybe you do not want to be friends with them anymore. Sometimes it is okay if your SO is your only friend, but be wary of the signs that you are too dependent on your lover.