Join 3,564 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


How many times should you hang out with friends while in a serious relationship?
September 15, 2012 8:09 AM   Subscribe

My fiance and I seem to be in disagreement of how much time is "enough" to spend with friends.

My boyfriend was the type of guy that would hang out with friends SEVERAL times a week, every week. We were in a LDR so he had plenty of time to hang out with friends, then I moved and "interrupted" their dynamic. (he has never said I interrupted it just fyi)

I've hung out with these group of friends of his several times and they are all very nice and pretty calm guys & girls, they are not a wild bunch, so I've always felt ok with my fiance going out by himself. They've known each other for a lot of years, so Im the odd girl out and even though they have made me feel welcome, most of them are extremely shy, it seems everyone already knows their place in the group and I haven't been able to feel completely comfortable around them, even after a year of moving here.

My fiance and I live together and we always do fun things together, we have 2 couples that we sometimes hang out with that we randomly met. However, this previous group of friends usually make him feel guilty whenever they see him about not hanging as much time as he did before, they will say it jokingly and usually never in front of me. However, all of these friends are younger than him, 1 or 2 years, they have just graduated college while my fiance graduated almost 3 years ago so I feel that although they have tons of things in common they are in a different stage in their lives. There is one particular friend of his, who is one of his closest friends out of the group, who, even though he could, doesnt work at all, lives off his parent's money and is CONSTANTLY inviting my fiance to do things. Some are mild things like going over his apt to watch baseball or whatever, while others are going to spend the whole day at a different city, but he always has something planned during the week (3x times per week). He also travels constantly, something that my boyfriend and I love to do, but we plan and save ahead of time to visit new places. This friend, since he doesnt work, travels on every whim and of course tries to get my fiance to go with him, he is also the one person that has tried the least to get to know me (i have tried, but he seems to be really shy around me), as to where sometimes I wonder if he actually likes me, he has never mentioned anything to my fiance so I'll just assume is out of being a shy guy.

Anyway, long story short, my fiance is a complete people pleaser and I know that he often feels guilty for not hanging out as often as he did with his friends, specially when they tell him so. He now spends around 3 times a month with them (always invites me and I go whenever I can) and thinks that he should be spending AT LEAST one night every week with them, he assumes that because we live together and see each other after work that we should probably cut back on our weekend time, which I believe is our quality time to do things, so he can go visit these friends, specially that one friend. I've told him that is not uncommon for friends to drift apart when one is the only person out of the whole group who is in a committed relationship. I believe that things change, people change and friendships rarely stay exactly the same. He says that he doesnt think that friendships should drift apart because one person is in a relationship but I think he doesnt understand or maybe doesnt accept that he is different from his friends. Unfortunately now he has to divide his time and I feel his friends should understand.

Sometimes I feel like a bitch for making him choose between going over to his friends or us doing something, but most of the time I feel that as a couple our relationship should come first. Dont get me wrong, I do believe in each person spending time with their friends, and together as a couple with friends. After all he still sees them a couple of times during the month and talks to them every day.
1. Am I wrong in my assumption that it is completely common for friendships to drift apart as people grow and transition to a new place in their lives?
2. How much time do you think is the "average" amount to spend with your friends when you also have to balance time with your fiance?
Any other comments are appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (42 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Three times a month?

Umm. I would be fine with him going out with his friends 2 nights a week, 3 on the odd week, and the only rule is that we have to have to option of spending either Friday or Saturday night together.

Get your own friends, plan your own things.

What is the point of stopping your boyfriend from doing things he wants to do? You understand that how much he enjoys himself with other people isn't a reflection of how much he loves you, right? I'm just checking because your post reads as quite controlling.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:17 AM on September 15, 2012 [62 favorites]


As a couple, your relationship should come first but that in no way means that his spending ONE night a week with his friends is excessive, or that you have to spend the entire weekend together, every weekend.

You need to find a balance that works for the two of you, but telling him "hey, friendships change, so you SHOULD hang out with your friends less" is not the way to find that balance. If, organically, him and his friends spend less time together, fine, that's because they are drifting apart gently and cest la vie. If you're trying to force a change based on how often you think he should be seeing his friends, that's a different matter altogether.
posted by lydhre at 8:19 AM on September 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


Respectfully, I think you're potentially on the road to becoming a bitch, as it can be a "slippery slope" when you start telling loved ones what they should and shouldn't do. It's better not to request adherence to "rules" but rather ask the loved one to Understand and share the spirit of what you desire. Mothers can say who and when you can hang out with your friends, but not a good role for a fiance.
posted by Kruger5 at 8:23 AM on September 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


You sound like you are actually trying to push him apart from his friends.

I've told him that is not uncommon for friends to drift apart when one is the only person out of the whole group who is in a committed relationship. I believe that things change, people change and friendships rarely stay exactly the same. He says that he doesnt think that friendships should drift apart because one person is in a relationship but I think he doesnt understand or maybe doesnt accept that he is different from his friends.

Or maybe he isn't that different from them, just because he's been out of school for two years more than them.

You want him to -- what, see his friends a few times a month (but less than once a week) on weeknights, while you have him all weekend every weekend? That's on the extreme end of togetherness.
posted by jeather at 8:27 AM on September 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


but telling him "hey, friendships change, so you SHOULD hang out with your friends less" is not the way to find that balance.

This.

And I'm wondering is his friends seem "shy" around you because they sense you don't like him spending time with them anymore. Do you have friends of your own that you made before/separately from him? Do you see them apart from him?

Seeing friends once a week is not, to me, beyond any sort of pale.
posted by rtha at 8:27 AM on September 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


It is completely common for friends to drift apart as people grow and transition to a new place in their lives. It is also completely common for people to eat McDonalds hamburgers for lunch several times a week. Things that are common aren't necessarily things that are good.

I don't think there is an 'average' amount of time to spend with your friends vs. your fiance, but I think people who are coupled need to have their own lives in addition to having a life as a couple. You're the one who moved, so it's easier for you to spend time with him than to cultivate your own friendships, while he stayed near his friends so it's harder for him to give them up. That makes finding that balance hard because you're both in such different places friend-wise.

Try actively cultivating your own friendships and interests -- take a class one night a week, join a meetup group, find your own girlfriends to hang out with, etc -- for at least 6 months and then revisit this issue.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:30 AM on September 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hm well my datapoint is that my husband and I probably are separate about 3-4 nights a week, each visiting different friends, or going dancing with friends or spending alone time. So we spend 2-3 nights together.

I think friends can drift apart, but they don't necessarily drift apart because someone is in a relationship. Maybe your guy is happy seeing those friends....maybe he finds the connection wonderful. This is what he wants to do.

There are three sets of friends, yours, his, and those that are both of yours. Maybe you don't gel with his, and that's okay. But it isn't fair to ask him to cut back on his so you can spend time with couple friends.

Let's assume you're going to get a whole bunch of answers that what your guys going...who he is spending time with and how often is just fine. What would have to change in your perspective to be okay with it?
posted by anitanita at 8:31 AM on September 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've told him that is not uncommon for friends to drift apart when one is the only person out of the whole group who is in a committed relationship.

Sure, it's not uncommon, but it certainly doesn't have to be that way. I have been with my SO for six years and we still both see friends pretty much every day, sometimes together, sometimes not. Since hooking up with my SO, I now have an even bigger group of friends and so does he. It's awesome. Coupled friends, single friends, friends with kids, and all at various stages in their lives, from professionals to the guy who just can't get his shit together but we still love him dearly and everything in between. It's because we like the same kind of people and our social circles were somewhat intertwined to begin with.

Why are you pushing him away from his friends? I think hating my SO's friends and not wanting to be around them (and not wanting HIM to be around them) would say a lot about the kind of people we were and whether or not we were compatible.
posted by futureisunwritten at 8:34 AM on September 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


"What your guy is doing".....not guys going. Whoopsie.
posted by anitanita at 8:35 AM on September 15, 2012


Am I wrong in my assumption that it is completely common for friendships to drift apart as people grow and transition to a new place in their lives?

Common, but irrelevant. In my experience, most of the time people drift apart because they value the friendship less or move to a different city, not because their significant other is actively pressuring them to make them drift apart. In any case, what is "common" does not matter, only what works for the two of you. Sounds like the scenario you are envisioning works pretty well for you but not for your fiance.

How much time do you think is the "average" amount to spend with your friends when you also have to balance time with your fiance?

Again, doesn't matter what the "average" is—only what works for you and your SO. My girlfriend would be pretty happy for me if I had time to organize and attend a gathering of my close friends once a week (and vice versa). Unless there are other details you left out, it sounds like you get your fiance to yourself 27 nights a month, and you are begrudging cutting that down to 26 nights a month, or having to share with his friends (it's not like these are boys nights out where you aren't invited). That doesn't seem very reasonable, and I can see why your boyfriend wouldn't like it.

Any other comments are appreciated.
  1. The expectation that you spend every single one of your weekends not only together but alone as a baseline is pretty unreasonable.
  2. It's pretty apparent that you don't like his friends very much and they probably get that vibe too.
  3. You think that your fiance being a "complete people pleaser" is the reason that he feels guilty about not spending more time with his friends, but it's also probably the reason that he tolerates your restrictions on his autonomy and desires.
  4. The people I know who tried to control and reduce their significant others' interactions with their friends got married and divorced within a couple of years. If you want your marriage to last, I would proceed cautiously.

posted by grouse at 8:36 AM on September 15, 2012 [36 favorites]


Sometimes I feel like a bitch for making him choose between going over to his friends or us doing something, but most of the time I feel that as a couple our relationship should come first.

Addendum: this is unhelpful all-or-nothing thinking. Your relationship clearly already comes first. The question is whether it comes second and third as well or whether there is room for your fiance to have some time in his life with his friends and support network.
posted by grouse at 8:39 AM on September 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


However, all of these friends are younger than him, 1 or 2 years, they have just graduated college while my fiance graduated almost 3 years ago so I feel that although they have tons of things in common they are in a different stage in their lives.

This just sounds like you looking for some reason for him to spend less time with them, to suit what you want rather than what your SO is clearly comfortable with. It is a pretty weak reason. Trying to make other people's choices for them is not generally welcomed.
posted by biffa at 8:43 AM on September 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was totally prepared to be on your side when I read the question set-up, but then I got to the specifics and your expectations are TOTALLY out of whack.

You're okay with couple friends but not single friends? Or new friends but not friends that pre-date you? This sounds weirdly controlling or weirdly insecure.

"I've always felt ok with my fiance going out by himself."

This is like the bare minimum for a long-term relationship: he's allowed to leave the house by himself!

I have a lot of other things to say, but it looks like other people are already saying them. I'd just add: One of the biggest predictors of men's health and wellness in the West is the ability to make and keep long-term friends, because it is much more difficult for men in our society to form close, supportive relationships, and they tend to rely far too much on their wives/partners, and on friendships that are mediated through their wives/partners (couple friends, etc.). Not only is this not emotionally healthy, but it isn't good for their long-term physical health.

Your fiance, for all that he's "shy," clearly has a gift for friendship. Part of what you need to do as partners is take care of each other and encourage each other to be healthy and happy. He is doing one of the most important and most difficult things for a man to do to be healthy and happy -- creating and maintaining a circle of supportive friends. Why is your impulse to cut him off from that and make him feel guilt about it? You say your couple relationship is your priority, but if that were true, I don't think you would be trying to remove your partner's support network.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:47 AM on September 15, 2012 [50 favorites]


Your fiance is well-liked and has a fantastic social circle -- why in the world would you want to change that? You are both still young, you and your friends don't have kids yet -- ENJOY THIS TIME. Let him go out with his buddies. Two or three times a week is not excessive.

I think it's entirely possible that they are shy around you because they can sense that you see them as competition.
posted by Ostara at 8:52 AM on September 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


So my fiance and I are now (I'm guessing) a couple years older than you guys, and moved in together a few months after we graduated from college. While we had a few friends in common, we both made a big effort to develop friendships with each other's friends. By now, almost all of our friends are mutual friends - i.e. we've developed independently strong relationships with each other's friends - which is pretty awesome.

If for some reason he hadn't gotten along with my best friends, I definitely wouldn't have been satisfied with "friendships change when you're in a relationship," or with only being allowed to see my friends a few times a month. Unless his friends are total jerks, I kinda feel like the onus is on you to either find a way to enjoy hanging out with them, or to find your own friends/hobbies to fill the time when your fiance is out. Mine goes out with coworkers a few times a month, and it's great! I get to watch Toddlers and Tiaras without judgement and eat mac & cheese for dinner. Don't begrudge him time with his friends - you can have an awesome time all by yourself, and skip the part where your fiance starts to resent you.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 8:55 AM on September 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


It isn't "drifting apart" if he is changing his friendships at your direction.

It sounds like you are anxious about what he's doing when you can't see him or be part of the conversations he's having with his friends. The solution to that is to develop new friendships of your own, not to cut him off from the people in his life.
posted by catlet at 8:59 AM on September 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Okay, what I'm hearing here is that you don't feel like you're getting enough good time with your boyfriend. So my first question would be "how much time do you want to spend together?" Also, what kind of time do you spend together as a default? I can certainly see that if you're both getting home late and feeling tired and rushing through dinner on a weeknight, that doesn't feel like quality time, and so you'd want some better time on the weekends. Also, what counts as good time? Do you need long blocks of time together to really feel relaxed, so weekends are extra important?

And one other thing - when your boyfriend is out with his friends, do you feel like a social failure? Do you want him to stay home with you so that you won't feel left out?

I think the best way to tackle this problem is not to look at your boyfriend's friendships - everyone else is right, restricting reasonable socializing is a bad way to go - but to look at the quality of the time you spend with your boyfriend and what you need.

I've certainly drifted from a partner when we were both spending a lot of time on other projects/socializing - but that had a lot more to do with the fact that we weren't prioritizing the time we did have than the outside activities. What I'd suggest is to look at ways to make sure that you're feeling close and happy when you are together first, then look at the friends thing.

Like, is he spending three nights a week with friends and using up all his energy, so he's flat and going to bed early and thus not really "with" you the other nights? That would bug me.

Is a lot of your weekend time taken up by chores and groceries so it doesn't feel like together time?

Here are concrete suggestions:

1. Figure out how much time you want with your boyfriend. (If it's "all the time!" you need to re-evaluate...)
2. Figure out how to improve your existing time - can you plan more fun stuff or fun-ify chores/meals by changing how you do them? Cooking together, working on projects together, etc?
3. Get yourself a regular weeknight activity - a class, a sport, an errand, volunteering. It will get your mind working in new ways and provide one weeknight where your boyfriend can hang out with friends with no worries at all.
4. Plan stuff to do on weekends - it's not just "we should spend the weekend together" but "let's go hiking on Saturday!" or even "let's clean the porch on Saturday!" When there is no plan, your boyfriend should be free to hang out with friends.

I would have trouble calculating an "appropriate" amount of nights for my partner to spend with friends. It varies a lot from week to week, right? Some weeks we're both at home almost every night and the whole weekend; some weeks we're both gone a lot. As long as it evens out, it's fine.

Also, what is the deal with the rich friend? Do you feel that he is enticing your boyfriend to spend money he doesn't have? Does it just irritate you that he has an easier life than you do? That can be really difficult to parse. One of my friends basically friend-dumped another because the other person was really rich and acted very clueless about it, talking like everyone could drop everything to jet off to the coast, being careless with possessions, etc. Substantial income inequality in friendships is really hard to manage if the richer person is clueless or entitled. Maybe do some thinking about how this makes you feel.
posted by Frowner at 9:30 AM on September 15, 2012 [12 favorites]


Maybe you would feel less anxious about this if you guys had your "just you" time scheduled more predictably? Like if you knew that Friday nights was your regular time and you could always count on that. And on Saturday nights your custom is to sometimes go out with other friends; and you figure it out by Thursday night so that he isn't springing "hey I'm going to go see Fred" on you at the last minute and leaving you in an empty house.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:35 AM on September 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


If this AskMe were written covering the same points, but by your partner and from his or her perspective there would be a deafening chorus of DTMFAs.

I'd be in accordance with them. Your expectations are very far afield, your prescriptive and very narrow assumptions of what relationships should look like are troubling, and if left unchecked or unaddressed they will be very problematic.

I am not saying this to be harsh, but you need to listen to, realize, and act to address the issues pointed out by the many observations and pieces of advice offered in this thread. What you're wanting and what you're trying to do is not okay.
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 9:52 AM on September 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


It sounds like you were either engaged already while in a LDR or became engaged shortly after you moved in together/were no longer doing the LDR thing. I would re-evaluate that. Going from an LDR to a non-LDR with someone is almost like starting an entirely new relationship. The previous years still matter, but you haven't had the experience of working through the kinds of issues that face couples when they live in the same place (you're encountering one of them now).

All I'm saying is: slow down. Try to look at situations like this, issues you've never faced before because of being in a LDR, from the perspective of a new-ish girlfriend, rather than a fiance who's been with him for years. I think from that perspective you may be more able to see what most of the commenters above see.
posted by telegraph at 9:55 AM on September 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't know why I'm so surprised at the reactions since everyone here loves open relationships and is never ever jealous, but...that's not MY experience in MY life, and I sound a lot more like you so I'll weigh in!

I think this is one of those "whatever works for YOU is what works" situations. You deserve to feel comfortable in your relationship. I can totally understand that him seeing his friends 3 nights a week seems excessive. I mean, I go to work at 7 am, come home after 5, and am in bed around 10 or 11. If my boyfriend was using those few precious remaining hours to see his not-me friends, I would feel pretty unimportant. It would compound my feelings if the friends he was visiting were ones I do not trust or like.

I guess I should answer your actual questions now.

1. Am I wrong in my assumption that it is completely common for friendships to drift apart as people grow and transition to a new place in their lives?

I don't think you're wrong. I think friendships are harder to maintain as we age and, and your primary relationship person becomes kind of your everything. Friend and lover and grocery-helper. And I personally like that.

2. How much time do you think is the "average" amount to spend with your friends when you also have to balance time with your fiance?

Most of my coupled/married friends see their friends like one night a week or both weekend nights. We are in the 30-year-old age range so maybe that's why it's so infrequent compared to some other commenters. I just seriously can't imagine seeing my friends 3 nights a week when I'm so wiped out after working all day. And I even have my nights to myself because my boyfriend travels for work.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 9:58 AM on September 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


My husband is an extrovert who is energized by socializing... and I'm the sort who feels drained by it. He sees friends several times a week, every week, and we also have a couple of days of "just us." Our situation is different because a) we've been together a million years, and b) I work from home, and he's an independent contractor in his field, and he can be away for weeks, or at home for weeks – so we also have more home-together time during the day than most couples (even if it's not necessarily "doing stuff together"). But our situation may still be useful for your evaluation of how you want to view/handle this discrepancy in personalities with your fiance.

A big issue for me is that it would be extremely frustrating and unnatural for my husband to be policed on his social interaction because it's a major part of what makes him happy and fulfilled – and I want him to be happy and fulfilled.

But it also happens to work out that his popularity and gaggle of friends makes a lot of things better / easier for us. He's does a lot of favors for friends and has been a true-blue stand up guy with so many people that there's always a posse ready to help us out if we ever need a hand with anything or the right connection to work out a problem.

You know how people often have problems with neighbors? We never do. Somehow my husband always knows all the neighbors, has usually fixed something for them, and we're always golden. Super grouchy guy next door our neighbor warned us about when we moved in? Brought us a couple of bottles of wine last week. Local shops or restaurants? If we don't happen to have cash, they'll put it on a tab. We get huge containers of olive oil pressed from olives from a friend's personal grove, fresh fruit and veg from friends who have gardens, if the lady across the street cooks up something yummy, she'll often bring us over a plate. Pretty amazing apartment at way below-market rent for our location? Check. Found how? Via a friend. Landlady loves us, and hasn't raised the rent in five years. Ex-landlady (from former amazing apartment found through a friend)? Still calls to say hi.

He gets more work opportunities, especially once anyone's worked with him, and when resources are low, he's more likely to get what he needs. All that stuff just makes life a lot nicer and warmer, and it's a happy benefit of being that sort of person who is naturally kind, friendly, popular – and social.

I'm no sourpuss myself and usually pretty popular among those who know me, but I'm the sort who needs to have a lot of alone time and could never keep up all these friendly connections ... so it's all good. My husband gives me his undivided attention on our just-us date days, and I don't give him grief for socializing, as long as it doesn't get too overwhelming (we do have the occasional talk). He doesn't pressure me to go do things I really don't feel like doing, and he compromises a lot about not bringing friends home too much. What works for me is making it known that I want to do X on Y day, just us, or I want us to hang out at home and chill alone on Z day. I ask him for what I need, and he's perfectly free to be as social as he wants to be if that stays cool. I'm also not shy about telling him when it's too much, so he doesn't have to guess or worry about that. We both get what we need, even though what we need is quite different in this one way.

(No kids, btw, if that's not glaring obvious. Knowing my husband, though, I would be shocked if I had to battle him over family time. That wouldn't be happening.)
posted by taz at 10:04 AM on September 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


I can totally understand that him seeing his friends 3 nights a week seems excessive.

In the question he is seeing the friends three nights each month, not each week.
posted by grouse at 10:11 AM on September 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


My bad grouse, damn. I guess I was thinking of this part of her question, "My boyfriend was the type of guy that would hang out with friends SEVERAL times a week, every week."
posted by masquesoporfavor at 10:13 AM on September 15, 2012


Three nights a month is nothing. This is not excessive at all. Seriously. Everyone needs time away from their SO on a regular basis. And be glad that he has a strong and supportive network of friends. I've dated enough guys who had no close friends to know that it's a red flag. You're really getting into controlling territory and you should really work on dealing with why it is you feel the need to further restrict your fiancé's time, activities, and behavior when, by your account, they all seem more than reasonable and accommodating to you. Also, start developing your own friends and hobbies apart from your fiancé. It will help you become more independent, less reliant on him for your social activities, and hopefully curtail that controlling streak you're beginning to exhibit in the relationship.
posted by violetk at 10:26 AM on September 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know why I'm so surprised at the reactions since everyone here loves open relationships and is never ever jealous

This confuses me (and may be confusing to the OP): open relationships are not the same thing as your partner having drinks or dinner with their friends one or several times a month/week. You (general you, not specific you) might be the kind of person who's perfectly fine with your partner going out without you with their platonic friends but not okay with the partner having sex with anyone else.

I agree with Frowner that you should think both about how much time you want with your partner and what kind of time you want with him. You may find that it's less of an issue of quantity than quality. Or not. If it comes down on the side purely of quantity, that can be problematic if your baseline doesn't match his. I don't think it's healthy for a relationship where one person doesn't feel "allowed" to have separate friends or separate time with those friends.
posted by rtha at 10:34 AM on September 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


1. Am I wrong in my assumption that it is completely common for friendships to drift apart as people grow and transition to a new place in their lives?

It is common. The part that you are wrong about is your implicit assumption that it is desirable.

2. How much time do you think is the "average" amount to spend with your friends when you also have to balance time with your fiance?

Both my wife and are are fairly introverted people: we're mostly happy staying at home with each other most of the time. My wife goes out for dinner or to spend the evening with friends at least once or twice a week; I have friends I see roughly as often, maybe a bit less; in addition to that most weekends involve a visit with local friends we have in common either at our place or theirs.

I think we are on the low end of "average" for sociability. Your expectation that "a couple times a month" is sufficient seems very very low to me.

If I had made definite plans with my wife to spend X day together, and she bailed to spend the day with a friend instead, then I would feel upset. But if we don't already have plans, trying to dictate whether she can or can't go see her friends would feel really weird and controlling to me.

It also seems pretty obvious from your description that you don't like his friends, particularly the guy who's living off his parents' money -- which is, you know, fine; I don't have much in common with some of my wife's friends either, which is why I don't tend to hang out with them -- but I would not be at all surprised if your dislike of them is obvious to them as well. This may be why they come off as "shy" to you, and may be part of why you don't feel comfortable with them.
posted by ook at 11:05 AM on September 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


[For reference: we're in our late 30s, married > 10 years, one kid. When we were younger we went out a lot more than we do now.]
posted by ook at 11:14 AM on September 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let me toss this out as an alternative for you to consider.

My husband spent a lot more time with his extended family before we met. I enjoy his family (mostly), but things change and he doesn't have as much time to hang out with them. It's not just our marriage that drives the change - he was made partner in his firm, he accepted some leadership roles in charitable organizations.

Here's the thing. I feel awful that he doesn't have as much time or energy to connect to his family. It makes me sad for him to be more cut off from people who love, support and understand him.

So yeah, things change. However, losing healthy friendships is something to regret. Unless you feel his friends were destructive why are you pushing them away from him?
posted by 26.2 at 11:14 AM on September 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


he assumes that because we live together and see each other after work that we should probably cut back on our weekend time

If my partner said this to me, I'd feel worried that my partner didn't want to spend quality time with me, and was content to just do our mundane living together and spend quality/fun time with other people.

At the same time, I don't think that it's reasonable to expect your partner to restrict his time with friends to a few times per month if he'd like to see them weekly.

So. I wonder if a solution could involve some very intentional date night/quality time on a weekly basis for the two of you. For instance, you could agree that Saturday night is "date night out" and Wednesday night is "stay in and watch a movie" night, and most other evenings the two of you will probably putter around together or randomly decide to go out, but if your fiance wants to go out with friends on a Tuesday evening, or a Sunday afternoon, he's not cutting into your shared quality time.
posted by Meg_Murry at 11:20 AM on September 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


You don't seem to have your own friends. You need to have some. If you are already out of school and don't work at a place with good candidates for friends, then do what is always advised: take a class, volunteer for a charity, join a volleyball league, etc. In other words, establish your own support group. Your fiancé should not be your only social contact.
posted by Cranberry at 11:26 AM on September 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


1. Am I wrong in my assumption that it is completely common for friendships to drift apart as people grow and transition to a new place in their lives?

No, but your fiance doesn't want to drift apart, and you're trying to force him to, then justify it with that line above.

I think he doesnt understand or maybe doesnt accept that he is different from his friends.

Sounds like you don't accept that he doesn't want exactly what you think he should.

He now spends around 3 times a month with them (always invites me and I go whenever I can) and thinks that he should be spending AT LEAST one night every week with them

Given that he's inviting you every time, this is pretty reasoable. Do you have friends? Maybe you should hang out with them and invite him along sometimes too. This is how most people seem to operate in relationships.
posted by spaltavian at 11:50 AM on September 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


1. Am I wrong in my assumption that it is completely common for friendships to drift apart as people grow and transition to a new place in their lives?

It's common, but sad when it happens, and not something you should go out of your way to encourage! Friendships either deepen or fall apart entirely organically depending on the 2 people involved, and generally a third party's opinions or desires have no bearing on that, nor should they.

I've told him that is not uncommon for friends to drift apart when one is the only person out of the whole group who is in a committed relationship. I believe that things change, people change and friendships rarely stay exactly the same. He says that he doesnt think that friendships should drift apart because one person is in a relationship but I think he doesnt understand or maybe doesnt accept that he is different from his friends.


I get the feeling from your question, especially the part quoted above, that you feel that friendships are something for single people and as soon as you're in a committed relationship, the relationship takes precedence over everything. In my experience of the world this is not true. You cannot share every aspect of your life with one person. You need friends - they are one of life's blessings and certainly not a second-rate substitute for a boyfriend/girlfriend. Pardon me if I have totally misread this. It's just how it came across to me.

2. How much time do you think is the "average" amount to spend with your friends when you also have to balance time with your fiance?

This varies from person to person. But I would certainly say that three times a MONTH is definitely on the less frequent side.

Sorry, I don't mean to join the pile-on, but you should be happy that your fiance has friends and a social circle - why do you want to keep him entirely to yourself and have him be with you all the time? Leaving aside issues of control, etc - wouldn't you get bored? I know I would.

Do you have friends of your own, that pre-date your boyfriend? If not, do go out and make some, I have a feeling you'd be much happier, as the question implies some degree of anxiety.
posted by Ziggy500 at 12:49 PM on September 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's true that some friends drift away after you become part of a couple, but it's not really something most people encourage. And make no mistake, that's what you're doing when you pressure him to reduce his time with his friends and comply with some arbitrary number that you've made up.

My husband and I have a toddler, so we don't see our friends as much as we used to, and seldom without each other. We do a regular weeknight gathering, and at least one day on the weekends. Granted, we've integrated our friend group, which makes things easier, but I couldn't imagine limiting my husband to three times a month, or vice versa.

But regardless of the number, I think telling people what they can't do is definitely controlling. Assuming that the end goal is to make sure you get quality time, try setting a minimum amount of one-on-one time, rather than dictating the time he spends with other people.
posted by snickerdoodle at 1:10 PM on September 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


[Folks, if you can not be constructive and helpful, do not answer this question. Do not bring your own drama and baggage to this.]
posted by jessamyn at 1:18 PM on September 15, 2012


He says that he doesnt think that friendships should drift apart because one person is in a relationship but I think he doesnt understand or maybe doesnt accept that he is different from his friends.

I think that you don't understand, or maybe don't accept, that there are a lot of ways in which he is very much like his friends, and perhaps different from you. His friends are a year or two younger than he is, and it sounds as though you're all in your early 20s, so you're all in the same stage of your lives. The fact that he's dating or engaged to you doesn't change the fact that he has common interests, not to mention a shared history, with his loved ones.

It may be that you would be happy to spend time with only or primarily him. But it sounds as though he's different from you in that way. It doesn't mean that he loves you any less than you love him. It means that he disagrees with you that distance from friends is a positive thing for an engaged or married man. And he's entitled to believe that, and I think it would do your relationship a lot of good if you could respect his need for that, just as he respects and honors needs that you have that he doesn't necessarily share.

In the end, trying to pull him away from his friends is going to end up hurting your relationship. You want the time you spend with him to be fun and intimate and special, not bitter and grudging. If you try to control his relationships with other people by dictating how often he can see them, even if it's just by letting him know that you think his interactions with them should be governed by your feelings about them, he's going to come to resent you. His friendships with other people enhance his life, and by extension, enhance your relationship by giving you a more fulfilled, happier partner. Respect and cherish that, and back off of the idea that it's okay for you to control this.
posted by decathecting at 1:39 PM on September 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


I've told him that is not uncommon for friends to drift apart when one is the only person out of the whole group who is in a committed relationship.

This statement stuck out to me because it is the type of thing you might say to someone who has been in a relationship and then later on realized that because of spending a lot of time working on the relationship he/she had drifted away from friendships and is upset about that.

Your boyfriend seems to be trying to nurture his friendships so that this does not happen. It's the kind of thing that happens sometimes but just because someone is in a relationship doesn't mean he/she HAS to drift away from friendships. I agree with some above posters who have asked what is the point of preventing him from nurturing his friendships and making sure they don't drift apart?

If it makes him happy and doesn't hurt your relationship I think you should find other activities to do when he is hanging out with this group of friends - also try not to think of yourself as an "interruption" because neither of you are interrupting the other's life. I think of relationships as more meshing two lives together and it is fine to have separate friends.

I really think that if you push this you will only create a lot of resentment and conflict down the road. The way you are trying to handle this situation does seem controlling.
posted by fromageball at 2:09 PM on September 15, 2012


I'm a low socialiser - as in seeing my friends once or twice a month is fine (which averages out to once every few months for each friend/group). My partner regularly spends two or three days a week with his brother, and if their best friend lived closer we'd see him as often too. As it is we see him once or twice a month depending on schedules.

For me the crucial element is you and your time. Socialising became an issue for us while I was working full-time and battling a flare of mental illness because the very last thing I wanted to do on the weekend was socialise, no matter who it was. Same with during the week. So he started going to more family things without me, and to his brother's without me (or I went home from work instead of out to their place). It worked well for us because I didn't resent the time he spent with them as long as it wasn't impinging on my time to recuperate.

We all have kids now so it is different but we spend every single night together. We have plenty of socialising time, even with working fulltime. Sure there are fun things we could do, or less fun but necessary things, so you schedule that shit. This Saturday is getting the yard sorted day, or we'll go to the movies saturday night, or sunday is pancake day. But not 'weekend is our time and our time only regardless of what else is happening'.
posted by geek anachronism at 2:33 PM on September 15, 2012


Compatibility is important. You don't have to be similar people with similar hobbies and schedules and whatnot, you can be as different as night and day...but you both have to be okay with who you both are, or you're not compatible.

So, let him know how you feel, listen to how he feels, and either compromise to a degree that leaves you both feeling satisfied or chalk it up to incompatibility and accept it or move on.
posted by davejay at 3:06 PM on September 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


What makes me feel like our relationship comes first is knowing that I have PRIORITY over my husband's friends. It's not the amount of time they spend together. It's that if I'm sick and need him, he'll cancel his plans with other people. It's that on a Tuesday or Wednesday, I can say, "Let's go hiking all day Saturday" and if he doesn't already have plans, he'll say, "sure!" and not check whether his friends have a better plan first. But if his friends said that, he'd probably say, "Let me check whether Lollusc had any plans for the weekend." It's that when we go to the movies with friends, afterwards he'll turn to me to ask what I thought, not to them. All these little things add up to make me feel like I come first.

If you are missing out on this sort of stuff, I imagine that you could feel like the problem is the amount of time they spend together when maybe it isn't.

And as another datapoint, I think three nights a month is really low, and both my husband and I are introverts. We probably each spend two nights, or one night and one weekend afternoon with friends - not always together. At least once a week we hang out with other people and without the other spouse. This month is a bit unusual, but I've spent two four-day periods travelling with friends or to see friends out of town without my husband, and it didn't occur to either of us that this is not okay. (Although we did make a big effort to keep the weekend in between those two trips free and full of fun date times.)
posted by lollusc at 8:26 PM on September 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


It sounds like you don't have many friends because you are new in town. I think if you get more activities, and meet more people, you will care less about the time he spends with his friends?

The more you try to push him away from his friends, the more resentful he is going to feel. Think about quantity vs quality in the time you spend together.
posted by manicure12 at 10:13 AM on September 16, 2012


Answer to your question #2 (how much time is enough): I look at it like a combo meal. If I can get one whole Saturday OR Sunday (rarely both) with my fiancé, plus two side dishes of weekday nights, then I'm good. He can do whatever he wants the rest of the time, and frankly, when he stays at home too often, I end up being the one shooing him off to go play with his friends, so I can have some time for myself.

So I would be okay with him going out thrice a week (not month). But honestly, he's in his early 30s, so those times are becoming rare. Sometimes he's just tired. So realistically, he only goes out once or twice a week anyway. Someone else mentioned this phenomenon already, so I'm just seconding it.

I think his friends, being younger, still have the energy and are still used to the college lifestyle where there is lots of hanging out. After working for a few years, you have this thing called living an adult life, and it's natural that you won't be able to meet up for drinks every single day. It's unfair of them to mention, however jokingly, that they aren't seeing him as much as before, even if it's true. They'll just have to deal with it. Try not to take these comments too seriously. I used to get annoyed at the thought that my SO's friends might think I'm a controlling type, but since then I've learned that men just like to joke and groan about the wife or girlfriend being "the old ball and chain", whether or not this is true. As long as you know you're spending a healthy amount of time with and away from him, then don't let it bother you. It's just one of those weird macho things.

As for the wastrel friend, he can invite your guy to travel with him all he wants, but just trust that your man knows the state of your finances. Maybe once a year, if the budget permits, you can let your fiancé travel with his friends, without you. It's good for a guy to feel that he still has the freedom to do these things, with your full blessing. (Plus my favorite part is when he comes back with all the presents for me.) Then you still have your annual couples trip anyway. The rest of the time, suggest that you're not opposed to your fiancé spending time with this particular friend, just that maybe they can stick to low-cost activities.

Don't think too much about this rich friend liking you. I think that's just because you feel you aren't getting enough quality time and attention from your own man. When that's sorted out, then him possibly liking you won't be such a big thing, and you'll just get over it, because you're already satisfied with your primary relationship.

One thing that makes me feel less "abandoned" when my SO goes out, is that he always asks (or at least goes through the formality of asking) for permission. He knows I'll always say okay, but even so, it's nice to be asked. And he always gives me at least half a day's notice. So you don't end up planning a nice evening together, then he says he has to go out. That can be really disgruntling. So ask him for a heads up.

I think because you used to be in an LDR, and are now together, you're just catching up on lost time, and that's okay. So for now, start getting used to him being away once a week. After you've caught up with all the snuggles and such, slowly bump up your Me Time / his Boys Night to twice a week. See how that feels for a while, then decide if you're okay with him being away more. If so, bump it up to thrice a week, then give yourself a pat on the back for being a cool so-NOT-controlling girlfriend. If not, then it's okay, just stay at twice a week.

Instead of thinking about the time as time spent away from him, with you all alone and neglected, think of it as time you are reclaiming for yourself. I use my free evenings to have movie marathons of all those girly or artsy movies I can't get him to watch with me, or catch up with my reading. Sometimes I work out, write to my penpals, give myself a manicure, take a long luxurious bath, etc.

I think you'll soon find that you enjoy spending time doing your own things, and will be glad for those days when you can get him out of the house. Good luck!
posted by pimli at 1:36 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


« Older I'm reckless, it's expensive. ...   |  What does it feel like to find... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.