When we’re single, our friends are like family. Friends are our confidants, the people we share our innermost thoughts with, the guys we get together with for a beer on Wednesdays and brunch on Sundays. It’s not unusual for some friends to be in touch several times a day, friendships enrich our lives and keep loneliness at bay.
You might think that friends would also be delighted when your new boyfriend turns into someone very special. Funny how that’s not always the case. If you and your best friend have been the go-everywhere-together guys, it can be disorienting when what you want to do and who you want to do it with shifts significantly. Going out and dancing all night may be less of a priority. And if you’ve been busy all day with work or out of town on business, chances are you’re going to dial up your boyfriend first, not your old buddy.
This is, of course, entirely natural. Healthy individuals with healthy friendships accommodate to these new realities without permanent damage to the friendship. You and your chum may need to talk it through if he’s feeling hurt about having less of your time and attention.
But some losses are necessary in life, opening space up for more of what we really want. And even if you’ve got a boyfriend now, you’re still going to need friends. No one person is going to meet all your needs, no matter how wonderful the relationship. But sometimes things don’t go well. When you’re in love, your perspective changes. It’s a little like being obsessed, and it’s easy to be thoughtless around old friends, who may not want to hear endless details of the cute thing your studmuffin did last night, or what a hottie he is in the sack, or… you get the idea. A little consideration goes a long way, guy. Friendships are give and take, not an endless recitation of the joys (or dramas) or your love life.
Some men react badly when a friend falls head over heels in love. They get jealous. They nitpick your new guy, finding faults with everything from his table manners to his place of birth. If it gets really nasty, you may get the sense that your relationship is being undermined or sabotaged. What do you do if you find that’s the case? It may be hard, but you’re going to have to set some limits. It’s not OK for people to insult the man you’re choosing to date.
What if all your friends dislike your new sweetie? First, consider the source. Criticism from guys who have a history of awful relationships – or no relationships at all – don’t get quite the weight that concerns from men who know more about what makes love last. But if your friends are people who have given you reliable advice when you’ve needed it and if you’ve found they are usually on target when they offer an opinion, it may be time to step back a bit and listen. Maybe what you’re getting isn’t jealousy. Maybe it’s a word of caution that is worthy of your attention.
John R. Ballew, M.S. author & contributor to GAYTWOGETHER, is a licensed professional counselor in private practice in Atlanta. He specializes in issues related to coming out, sexuality, relationships and spirituality. If you have any questions or comments you can submit them directly to GAYTWOGETHER