When I met Josh, the man who would become my husband, I had a lot of guy friends. There were my friends from high school who were still living in my hometown; my friends from my college brother dorm; and my male coworkers who—due to the amount of time we spent together—were also good friends of mine. When Josh and I started dating, those relationships didn’t disappear—but they definitely changed.
Many girls wonder if they can stay friends with guys once they’re in a committed relationship. The short answer? Yes! But those friendships probably won’t look the way they did before, particularly if you move toward marriage. Here are three things to know about opposite-sex relationships once you’re dating, engaged or married.
1. Relationships are fluid.
Relationships with the opposite sex are always moving forward or backward. They either move forward into a dating relationship, or they move backward into acquaintance status as both parties find other people to partner with for life. This doesn’t mean you never talk or you get super weird around each other! But it DOES mean new boundaries are put in place. To respect the commitment of your dating relationship, you have to have boundaries with your old friends. You also have to be okay with the inevitable change in those relationships.
This doesn’t make those friends less meaningful. It just places them in a new circle. You can keep in contact with them by introducing them to your partner and by communicating effectively as time goes by.
2. Open communication is essential.
Honesty and communication are absolutely essential to keeping your guy friends once you’re dating. Since good relationships are built on trust, you can’t have a positive relationship with your boyfriend if you’re hiding anything from him. This is one reason I do not encourage staying friends with your ex. The guy friends you DO keep should be those you can absolutely trust to support your relationship. If you think any of those guys have feelings for you, it’s not healthy to communicate with them while pursuing a relationship with someone else.
This communication can look many different ways. It starts by introducing your boyfriend to your guy friends. In my case, my husband ended up becoming great friends with the guys I knew in high school and college. Now we’re ALL friends—especially now that many of us are married!
Communication will also mean being open about social media interaction. Private messages and texts should be kept above reproach, and if you sense anything secretive, be open with your boyfriend about it. Remember where your loyalty lies: first with your dating relationship or marriage, THEN with your friends.
3. Accept distance as healthy.
Finally, learn to see distance as healthy. You aren’t going to talk to your guy friends as much as you used to; you’re not single anymore. You have to be okay with that! If you chose to enter a committed dating relationship, you’re also choosing to say “no” to close relationships with other men.
Also be sensitive to the feelings of your boyfriend. If you constantly rehearse old memories whenever you’re around your guy friends, he’s going to feel left out—and possibly like he missed out on an important part of your life. Be conscious of his priority in your heart and communication, and be okay with less talk time with your guy friends because of this.
You absolutely can have your guy friends after you start dating, but just remember to put others before yourself—especially those closest to you.