Why your friends matter when you're in love.
Every single one of us has that one sister, bestie or flatmate that we turn to for relationship advice. The gal we text when theres stuff going down, when we need a second opinion or when we're just looking for someone to share some Tim Tams with and watch a movie. The one you text the 'code emoji' to when the Tinder date is not going well. Can you picture her yet?
We need this babe in our lives. Actually we need to have an entire circle of friends in our lives. The types of people who will hold us accountable. Call us out on our bullshit. Tell us when we've found a keeper. Spend the afternoon with us so we don't text our ex. Or give us that stare if we're considering settling for something less than what we deserve. The point is our friends ( and family ) are so important when we're in a romantic relationship. We've gotta stay connected.
No matter how good the new love is. Never ever disconnect from your friends and family.
Truth is, I was once 'that girl'. The one who got so caught up in love that I forgot about my friends. It wasn't just for the first few weeks. I let it carry on for years and in the end I became really really lonely. TBH, I didn't realise what was happening to me. I was also putting up with some behaviour in the relationship that wasn't OK.
Waiting up all night wondering if my partner was coming home. Only to receive a text at 3am asking for a ride like nothing had happened. Finding snapchat streaks with other women. Turning up to celebrate an award at work and having to make excuses for why my partner wasn't there. Of course I would never admit that a night of playstation was being put before my achievement. Or, that we'd had a fight beforehand about the dress I had chosen to wear.
By the time I was ready to call it quits on this relationship I was disconnected from my friends and family. It was like I had no one to turn to for help. I felt embarrassed to reach out. Everyone had told me I deserved better and I didn't listen. Now, I was about to face into the inevitable 'I told you so' conversation. Or was I?
This babes is called isolation and it's dangerous.
Isolation is a form of emotional abuse. It's a common tactic used to get you away from the people who love you most. Isolation leaves you dependent on your partner for anything from advice, to a hug, money or a bit of affirmation every now and again.
Isolation leaves you feeling lonely which is not the same as being alone. Hanging out with friends isn't an option. Visiting family becomes a long distant memory. Your world revolves around your partner and mostly just to keep the peace.
Putting someone who doesn't respect you before your own needs isn't OK. That’s not self love - it just doesn’t make sense!
Isolation isn't always forced or obvious.
Many warning signs of emotional abuse are forced. Like control, possessiveness or blame where you don't have a choice about wether it happens to you. Isolation can happen a little more subtly. You might choose to isolate yourself. This could be to avoid drama or embarrassment.
Maybe your partner struggles to behave like an adult after a few beers. You worry about their attitude towards your family if you go and visit. Or, it's easier to turn the girls night out down than face a potential argument about wanting to go. Sometimes it might just feel easier to stay at home and avoid the ones you love. This is a choice to isolate.
But babe, isolation is isolation. And it's not OK.
You should never reach a point where you have to choose between seeing your family and friends and keeping your partner happy. Anyone who truly loves and respects you would never expect that of you. We need to be surrounded by good quality people who love us, speak life over us and encourage us to be our best selves.
My sister is great at calling me out when I’m being too hard on myself. My Mum is my guardian angel when I need to know how to get stains out of clothes ( I can’t be the only one who does this ). My flatmate is often the reason why I get my butt to the gym because sometimes you need a bit of a nudge. Can you imagine what a mess I'd be without them?
I'm sure you have your people too babe.
Keep your gals close.
The deal is that we've gotta stay connected with the people we love. As tempting as it is to hang out with our partner 24/7 and never go and hang with the girls - it actually does us a disservice.
We've gotta remember that our partners are only one person. And as much as we'd probably love them to be EVERYTHING to us - it's just not possible or fair to expect that.
There's things you'll only ever do with your partner. Conversations you'll only have with your bestie. Advice you'll only accept from your Mum. We get different things from different people. Make sure you're surrounded by good people.
So, how do we tackle isolation?
Gal, isolation is not OK.
Know that it’s okay to put boundaries in your relationships. You are the gatekeeper for what's acceptable in your life. If there's some stuff happening in your relationship that doesn't feel right or good - speak up. Remember a healthy relationship is built on solid values like respect. If someone doesn’t respect your boundaries, they don’t respect you.
Stay connected with the people who build you up, give great advice and laugh with you. If you haven't been in touch with your friends for awhile, go on and reach out. Even if it's been awhile. Trust us, it's worth it.
Choose your relationships wisely. Make sure your partner respects you, your friends and family. Make sure you have the same expectations of your friends as well. Remember, you don’t have to negotiate who you will or won’t spend time with in order to have a relationship with someone. No one should expect you to disconnect from your loved ones.
If they do - then it’s time to say those words, boy bye!
IMAGERY: @DINOSAURTOAST FOR PREPAIR NZ