For most of us, our significant other is the most important person in our life. However, as much as we love to spend time with him or her, we do like to socialize outside of our relationship, which means that we try to maintain friendships along with our main companion.
While spending time with some friends is usually seen as a net positive for both parties, these interactions can influence your relationship in some profound ways. Whether you realize it or not, your friends will affect how you are with your significant other, and the results can be positive or negative.
To better understand how this works and what can come out of it, let’s break it down into five easy methods.
Analyzing Your Social Circle
Before we begin, however, we first have to understand where you are in your relationship as well as how tight-knit your friendship group is. For example, if you don’t have that many “close” friends, then the people you do spend time with might not have as much of an influence as someone who you have known and trusted for a long time.
Thus, what you need to do is figure out how many of your friends influence your behavior so that you can identify any markers that could affect your relationship. To do this, you will have to pay attention to your interactions with that person and learn to recognize his or her influence. A good place to start is by asking yourself these questions.
- Do I go to this friend often for advice?
- If so, do I usually solicit it or does he or she offer it without being prompted?
- How much do I trust this friend with opinions and choices? For example, would I trust this person to have my best interests in mind?
- Do I seek approval from this friend on a regular basis? Am I hurt if he or she disapproves of something that I do?
- Can I talk to this friend about anything, or do I limit how much I divulge?
While there are no “correct” answers to these questions, they should help you figure out which of your friends are more influential than others. Once you have decided who can affect you the most, then you should start paying attention to how that friend acts and reacts to your relationship with your SO.
Shared vs. Independent Friends
Another important distinction that you have to think about is whether these friends are yours or are shared between you and your SO. What we mean by this is if one friend is equally close to both you and your partner, the influence may be deeper than if the person knows one of you better than the other. For example, a couple may both know a mutual friend very well, meaning that they have interactions with that person that are independent of their SO. In this case, the level of influence can be higher or lower, considering that they know each of you personally, and therefore can make decisions that are more well-informed.
Conversely, friends that you have that are independent of your relationship (such as people that you hang out without your SO around) will have a different perspective and therefore should be categorized differently.
Approval of Your Mate
One of the most common ways that our friends can affect our relationship is by disapproving of our partner. If you have friends that hate your SO, it can influence you immensely, provided that you trust that person’s opinion. If most of our friends have a negative view of our partner, then we become more ashamed of being with that person, and we will eventually have to make a choice between spending more time with friends or cutting them off progressively.
On the flip side, if your inner circle approves of your mate and showers both of you with adoration, then you might be more apt to ignore certain flaws or think even more highly of your partner as a result.
Approval From Your Mate
Not only can our friends’ opinions influence our relationship, but the opinions of our SO’s regarding our friends can have a similar impact. If your partner doesn’t approve of your independent friends, then that will influence your thinking of both your SO and your friends. In some cases, disapproval from your mate could lead you to think less of him or her. In other instances, that reaction from your SO could cause you to disapprove of your friends, thereby creating tension.
Going with the Flow
Are most of your friends married? Do they have kids? Or do you know a lot of single people that talk about dating a lot and don’t want to settle down? Because we are social animals, we tend to do what everyone else is doing, which means that our social circles can affect what we think is “normal,” especially with regards to relationships. Thus, if most of your friends are in committed relationships, you may want to make more of a commitment to your partner. If the opposite is true, then you could think that commitment is overrated, and thus keep your distance.
Overall, the thing to keep in mind is that you are influenced by everyone that you interact with, whether you want to be or not. Even if you consider yourself completely independent of influence, there are subtle changes that can happen under the surface that you may not be entirely aware of at the time.