The Benefit of Having Friends Outside of Your Relationship

two friends laughing together

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It's not uncommon for people in relationships to spend all of their time together, especially in the honeymoon stage. However, too much time spent with any one person can become unhealthy and can potentially lead to codependency. So, it's important that you don't neglect other loved ones such as friends and family members after you've entered a romantic relationship.

This article discusses what makes relationships feel secure and why it's important to maintain friendships outside of your romantic relationship.

How to Create Feelings of Security in Your Relationship

Most people like to feel connected to the important people in their lives, especially in their relationship with a significant other(s).

It's rather easy to tell the difference between when the connection with a partner(s) feels good and when it feels off or disrupted. There are times, particularly at the beginning of a relationship, in which people might mistake feeling good with a secure connection.

Secure connection refers to an emotionally safe dynamic in a relationship that allows both partners to feel seen, heard, and understood. There are three foundational elements of a secure connection within a romantic relationship according to Dr. Sue Johnson, developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples.

The three foundational elements that create a secure relationship:

  1. Accessibility
  2. Responsiveness
  3. Engagement

Accessibility

When thinking about accessibility it means that all parties in a relationship show up for each other. When you reach out, do they respond? If they reach out, do you respond? Are all parties approachable? All of this factors into how accessible partners are within a relationship.

Responsiveness

Responsiveness refers to how you are received when you reach out to a partner. In other words, if your partner tries to share a need or hurt, are you receptive to their concerns? If you reach out to your partner, do they often respond in a way that lets you know they are interested?

Engagement

Engagement goes beyond the communication of content into the connection that can be experienced when a partner reaches out to another.

A partner’s level of engagement conveys a sense of understanding and compassion a way of letting each other know, “I get it” or “I’m trying to understand because I know this is important.”

When you are able to enjoy a secure connection within a romantic relationship, you'll often feel more secure in your sense of self, experience less stress and anxiety, and find it more interesting to explore the world.

What Happens When You Only Spend Time With Your Romantic Partner(s)?

Although a secure connection is what people are often looking for in a romantic relationship, it can be difficult to experience this, especially when people have a history of insecure connections with others.

When people have been hurt in previous romantic relationships, or even in their family of origin
relationships, they might view current relationships as their only source of connection, belonging, and safety.

As this happens, people move from a secure connection with their partner(s) to something that might feel consuming and no longer secure.

Dependency in a relationship is when partners move beyond simply turning to each other for support to expecting your partner(s) to meet all of your emotional needs.

When partners are not able to do this for one another, it can throw the relationship into a tailspin and leave one or both partners feeling dysregulated. The expectations can become unreasonable and, ultimately, leave partners feeling isolated and pressured to perform.

When relationships feel uncertain like this, it can leave both partners feeling a constant sense of unease and stress about the quality of their bond. Partners often find that they become fearful and even resentful of each other, leading to poorer communication and further misunderstandings
and uncertainty.

Benefits of Maintaining Friendships With Others

Having good friends that accessible to you can be helpful as you go through life. You might find the need to turn to others for support, encouragement, validation, or even to help you organize your thoughts and challenge perceptions.

Not only can you turn to friends in times of need, but positive support people can also offer you opportunities to explore, enjoy new experiences and share a good laugh.

When a sense of interdependence is fostered within a relationship, partners can offer the reassurance of their bond with one another while also encouraging continued development of self, outside of the relationship. Emotional accessibility is still present but the pressure of being the only support person is decreased.

Friendships can offer many of the same benefits as secure romantic relationships, such as:

  • Positive sense of self
  • Increased satisfaction with life
  • Sense of belonging and acceptance
  • Boosts both mental and physical health
  • Support in times of need
  • People to do activities with

Sometimes Your Romantic Relationship Needs Support

An additional benefit of having trusted friendships outside of our relationship is that you have people to turn to when your romantic relationship can use support.

People who love each other can still hurt each other, even if unintentionally. When the relationship needs guidance and support, it can be difficult for partners to see beyond their own hurts to have a clear picture of what the relationship needs at the moment.

So, having trusted others to turn to for guidance and perspective can benefit your romantic relationships.

Creating Boundaries With Friends

Boundaries are always important in healthy relationships. As you and your partner discuss nurturing friendships outside of your relationship, a clear discussion of boundaries can be helpful so both partners can continue feeling secure within the relationship.

Are there topics that are to be off limits? Are there things that should or should not be shared with friends? Having an honest conversation about this with your partner is key to easing any fears or uncertainty.

Secure connection in our romantic relationship is to be cherished. However, you can enjoy a secure connection with a romantic partner while also continuing to enjoy friendships outside of your relationship.

A Word From Verywell

Do not be afraid to talk with your partner about how to maintain the foundational building blocks of a secure connection, which are accessibility, responsiveness, and engagement, while also encouraging a sense of healthy interdependence. Being open with one another in this way can be of great benefit to the quality of your relationship.

If you are struggling to maintain boundaries with friends or you're noticing that you and your partner(s) are spending too much time together, you can enlist the help of a relationship therapist who help you create a better relationship.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Sandberg JG, Busby DM, Johnson SM, Yoshida K. The brief accessibility, responsiveness, and engagement (BARE) scale: a tool for measuring attachment behavior in couple relationshipsFam Process. 2012;51(4):512-526. doi:10.1111/j.1545-5300.2012.01422.x

  2. Amati V, Meggiolaro S, Rivellini G, Zaccarin S. Social relations and life satisfaction: the role of friendsGenus. 2018;74(1):7. doi:10.1186/s41118-018-0032-z