A study by Robin Dunbar at Oxford University suggests that we replace two of our closest friends whenever starting a new relationship. For each romantic relationship we enter, two friends are sacrificed from our inner circle to make room for the extra commitment. The implication of this is a smaller support group when it comes time for a breakup.
Previous research by Dunbar indicates that the majority of people have a core group of five close friends. When a romantic relationship begins, the time that was initially spent with these friends, suffers, emotional bonds deteriorate, and we lose connection with them.
Studies have often suggested that maintaining five good friends makes it more likely for us to have a fulfilling life. In other words, love, as happy as it may initially make us, can wither platonic relationships, hindering the possibility of finding true gratification. The only way to safeguard a satisfactory existence is to maintain our current friendships regardless of relationship status.
Dunbar’s research also showed that it is impossible for two lovers to take up four spaces among our friendship circle. In fact, in the case of having two lovers (as in cheating on an original partner), we tend to boot the original lover out of the circle in favor of the new one. In the end, we are constantly replacing our circle of friends, leaving us short on companionship time and again.
Is There a Way to Keep Our Friends and Have Our Lover Too?
In order to maintain friendships along with relationships, several guidelines must be followed.
1. Make the Effort. In a busy world, it’s easy to say we don’t have time, but the truth is often that we just don’t make the sacrifices to provide it. Friendship is like any other relationship, in that if you neglect it, the strength of your bond can deteriorate. It only takes a minute to call someone up (or text) to see how they’re doing. You’re never too busy to take five minutes to catch up with a friend.
2. Take Stock in Your Friends. Friends, who do not respect your relationships are not good friends. Envy can cause a lot of harmful mischief, so pay attention to the negative comments made, as they may offer clues to bad points you’ve turned a blind eye too, but also consider the source, because not all friends have your relationship’s best interest to heart.
3. Stand By Your Friendships. A friend is only as good as their word, and if you are constantly making promises you can’t keep, you will not remain a dependable friend for long. If you make plans, keep them. A worthy mate should not make you choose between “them or me.” They should understand the importance of family and friends. They must also understand that a friend must sometimes come first, and you’ll know when those times come.
4. Maintain Yourself. Friends sometimes change after getting into a relationship. For one thing, it is always a bad sign when you find yourself acting differently once you start dating someone new. A good lover should fit themselves seamlessly into your life, and not require you to become a different person to satisfy them. If you find yourself acting differently around friends, and they notice, it might be time to look at those changes and decide if it’s for the better.
5. Keep Relationships Separate. Sometimes its good to talk about your intimate relationships, such as when asked, but other times a friend may want to talk about just the two of you. Don’t become one of those friends who can’t stop talking about their love life, or friends may soon grow tired of hearing about it, and stop inviting you.
6. Forgive and Forget. We all make mistakes, and when a friend does something hurtful, try to look at their situation from their own point of view before passing judgment. They may be going through a tough time, and be deserving of your forgiveness. Friends can be lost by a split second disagreement. Don’t throw away years over a five minute misunderstanding. We are only human, after all.