Can you handle your date's mates?

Sometimes you might feel threatened by your partner’s close friendships. They can leave you feeling a little bit vulnerable and jealous, especially if the friend is someone of the same sex as you. On the other hand, your partner might feel insecure about your friendships, which can leave you feeling frustrated and torn between two people you care about.

This is particularly true in new relationships, where navigating the early stages can be tricky and overwhelming. It’s normal to want to spend all of your time with a new partner, so when one of you wants to go off and spend time with friends instead it can cause problems and spark jealousy. It might even make you question something about yourself or the connection that you thought you had with them.

While all of these emotions are common, it’s important to address feelings like these because everyone has the right to have friends and a life outside of their relationship.

Three's a crowd?

Keep your jealousy in check

Jealousy is often seen as a negative emotion, but it’s not really. It’s completely common, normal and absolutely ok to feel jealous. It can be a sign you that you actually care about a certain someone, and that you want to protect your relationship. However, if those feelings start to take over, make you unhappy or make you want to try and control someone else’s behaviour, then it can become a problem.

This year’s Love Island contestants have had plenty of opportunity to feel jealous, especially when they’ve been faced with love-triangles between their partner and the friendships they’ve formed in the villa. But Relationship Expert Anna Williamson believes that while feeling jealous of a partner’s friendships is normal, you need to keep those feelings in check. Be honest, tell your partner how you’re feeling and be careful not to let any jealousy spill over.

Anna says: “Remember, if your partner is a friendly person and has some strong friendships, that’s actually a good thing and probably one of the things you found attractive about them in the first place. Bear that in mind so it doesn’t become an issue.”

Grace Victory and others give their advice

Anna’s top three tips to manage the partner / friendship balance

1. Introduce them

Don’t try and keep your partner and your friends apart. Make them aware of each other from the start of your relationship. If you don’t, it could be seen as rude and could cause your partner to have an issue with that particular friendship.

2. Communicate

Insecurities are often the reason relationships break down, but communication can always combat this. So, if you’re feeling awkward about your partner’s friendships – or if they’re making you feel guilty about yours – tell them how you’re feeling.

3. Compromise

You should never tell someone how to behave, but if your partner’s friendship is really troubling you, suggest some compromises. For example, ask them to be honest about when they’re seeing their friends and to be mindful about the amount of time they spend with them, as this might make you feel a bit more relaxed.

When the friend is an ex-partner…

It’s perfectly OK for your partner to have friends of the opposite sex. If the friendship is with an ex-partner though, it can make things that bit trickier. It’s all the more reason to have a discussion and to put in some compromises and boundaries to keep you feeling safe and secure. Work on it together: communication is key.

Ex Love-Islander Rosie Williams says: “If you feel as if your partner’s friendship is crossing a line, talk to them about it. If he or she really loves you they should understand your feelings and will probably tone down the friendship to respect you and the way you feel.”

Where to find support

If you have concerns about your relationship, visit Relate for more information about relationships, and to message a counsellor for support.

It is always good to speak to someone you trust about the issues you might be facing, no matter how big or small. Although it can be hard talking about relationships, everyone finds them challenging at times, and if you are experiencing difficulties, don’t feel ashamed or different, and don’t feel you have to hide away from it.

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