Relationship Advice: Making Friends outside Your Marriage

July 15, 2015 by

For some couples, their romantic partner is not just a significant other; they’re a best friend.

Being in a stable relationship means you have a dependable partner in crime—someone you can count on if you want to check out a concert, try a new restaurant, or just veg out in front of the TV.

But while it’s wonderful if your spouse or significant other is also your best friend, be wary of making your partner your only friend. Couples who shut themselves off from the outside world can end up harming their relationship in ways they hadn’t foreseen.

Spending time apart is important because it gives you an opportunity to miss each other, fueling desire and making it so you are able to better appreciate the time you do spend together.

Similarly, having friends outside your marriage will introduce new things for you two to talk about, keeping conversations from growing stale.  And of course, friendship is valuable in its own right, since our friends support us, comfort us, and make us well-rounded, interesting individuals.

But between busy schedules and couple-centric habits, it’s not always easy for married or coupled individuals to make friends. If you’re struggling to expand your friendship circle outside of your relationship, here are some useful strategies.

Get out of the house. As fantastic as the new season of Orange is the New Black may be, spending your weekends in front of the TV with your spouse isn’t going to win you any friends. Get yourself off the couch by signing up for a class, sporting group, or volunteering activity.

Meetup.com is an excellent website for finding hundreds of events in your local area, featuring listings of everything from dodgeball games to wine tastings to bike clubs. If you can find people with similar interests, hobbies, and passions as you, you may find forming a bond comes naturally.

Take the initiative. Starting up conversations with people you don’t know can feel daunting and awkward, but it’s tough to meet potential friends in social situations if you keep to yourself or staying glued to your partner.

Take the initiative by starting up conversations with the people around you in daily life, whether at the grocery store, work, or group activities. Invite coworkers, classmates, or gym buddies out to lunch or drinks, and always try to be open to invitations from others around you.

Make it a priority. After a long day at work, you may be tempted to give up your social plans in favor of a glass of wine and Chinese takeout. But if you want to make friends, you have to prioritize socializing, even if it means forcing yourself out when you’re tired. Once you’re out of the house, you may just find you’ve gotten a second wind and start to genuinely enjoy yourself.

Bring your partner along. There’s no reason to exclude your partner in your efforts to put a little variety into your social life. Go out to social events as a couple, and feel free to invite your partner along to dinner or the movies with you and your friends every once and a while.

And if you feel like your relationship has long been a barrier to forming outside friends or a social life, talk to a Portland relationship therapist. Couples who have spent years in a relationship without socializing may find old habits are difficult to break, and your therapist can provide you with practical tools and solutions for addressing the issue and helping the both of you to build a diverse social life.