Your buddy’s met the girl of his dreams, and everything’s going great for the guy. Except for one thing: you never get to see him anymore. Sound familiar? In our haste to impress, men are very susceptible to single-mindedly pursuing one relationship while letting others, like those between us and our male comrades, fall by the wayside.
However, it’s important to maintain a strong social life outside of your relationship. Not only will you feel better, but your girlfriend will see you as a high-value man that others want to be around—and she will want to, too. Herein, we offer some advice for maintaining a social circle outside of your committed relationship, without sacrificing what’s most important to you.
Set a recurring hangout
Know how the cast of How I Met Your Mother always seem to be bumping into each other at MacLaren’s Pub? There’s a lot to be learned if you let life imitate art. Setting a recurring hangout with your buddies may seem a little like forcing it, but it always pays off when you know that Wednesday nights are just for you and the guys (and so does your girlfriend).
Find a place that’s convenient for you and your friends to get to with minimal hassle—such as a local pub with a crazy selection of craft brews right by the office, or a buddy’s flat that’s the same distance from all of you—which helps decrease the temptation to no-show. However, if you take the latter route, be sure to institute a safeguard so that you don’t take advantage of your friend’s hospitality. If you want to chill with beers, for example, rotate who supplies the goods every week. Take the same approach whether you choose to conversate over fine Scotch or footage of historic games.
If something like opposing work schedules makes you devote a lot of your free time to your partner, another way to create a balance between your love life and your brothers in arms is by taking advantage of some common ground: you’re both taken by wonderful women. If you want to try double dating to get extra face time with your friends, it helps to approach the situation as dating another couple: both parties have to connect, which you can’t force overnight.
The main thing that gets in the way of a double date is scheduling, so make firm plans at least two to three weeks ahead of time so that everyone is on board. Take the gals out for a classy dinner the first time. As your girlfriends mesh more and more, feel free to suggest going to a bar for a casual drink up, and eventually something they wouldn’t normally go to, such as that pre-season game you and your bud have hot tickets to. If the girls know the other one is coming, they’d be excited to see each other regardless of the context, letting you and your buddy catch up while your girlfriends chat.
Long-distance relationships are tough, but thankfully there are plenty of ways to keep the bromance alive. The wonders of technology can help close the distance whether your friend recently transferred to the Boston bureau or he’s just down the block. However, although mainstays like Skype chats are always an option, this isn’t your girlfriend we’re talking about.
Take the more interactive approach to your virtual hangout by playing multiplayer video games together (which conveniently blend fun and the option to chill with multiple friends at once). Xbox Live, Playstation Online and Steam all offer robust friendlist services, allowing you to shoot the shit while you’re shooting for headshots in Modern Warfare or planning heists together in Grand Theft Auto 5 Online. Just remember: video games, while fun, are not a substitute for face-to-face interaction, so take a hike across the city once in awhile. And if your buddy’s truly far away, plan a roadtrip to the cabin for a breath of fresh air.
How to keep female friends
One of the touchiest kinds of friends that you may want to keep around is your casual female friend. Hanging out one-on-one with a woman your girlfriend hasn’t personally met is bound to raise eyebrows whether your girlfriend is the jealous type or not, so conduct yourself in a respectful manner and make sure your girl knows she’s your priority.
One of the best ways to remove any possibility of female competition from your girlfriend’s mind is by letting them become friends. Acquaint your female friends with your partner in a casual situation with several people around, such as a house party, but don’t linger too long in your introduction. After a few such meetings, they should think of each other as just another familiar face and it will hopefully not bother her if you hang out one-on-one.
However, your girlfriend is unlikely to give you the all-clear outright—no girlfriend wants to sound like she was getting in between her boyfriend and his old friends, no matter their gender—so don’t jump out for a pint with your casual friend until you are certain that your girl’s cool with it (a good indication is that she regularly asks you how your friend’s doing). Either way, it never hurts to ask if your girlfriend would like to come along. As for old flames? Put frankly: ditch them. You’re happier now, remember?