You're in Love! Now Don't Ditch Your Friends!

Virginia Gilbert

Since your eyes locked over lattes at Starbucks, you and your soul-mate have been inseparable. You eat together, study together, sleep together and occasionally slumber together. You feel a twinge of guilt that you’ve flaked on those weekly breakfasts with your pals, but then, you guys just don’t seem to share as many interests these days.

Or could it be that your only interest is cataloguing each and every one of your beloved’s extraordinary qualities? Has your preoccupation with your relationship made being around you about as much fun as a case of the flu?

Falling In Love and Out of Friendship
“That first love relationship in college is unique,” says Norman J. Pollard, Ed.D., Director of the Counseling and Student Development Center at Alfred University in Alfred, NY. “Most students are away from home for the first extended period of time.  Because they’re able to be with their partner 24-7, there’s a tendency to develop tunnel vision and lose contact with friends.”

Students in this scenario typically piss off friends in one of two ways. The lovestruck person overwhelms pals by gushing continually about her boyfriend or crowding roommates when Mr. Wonderful becomes an unwelcome addition to the dorm room. Or friends feel rejected because they never see their old pal, who spends all his time with the new girlfriend.

Why Love Isn’t Enough
Although the myth of going away to school and meeting that special someone abounds, Dr. Pollard emphasizes that the whole point of college is to learn about yourself.  “If a young person is absorbed in any one thing, he’s limiting himself.  People need friends for balance,” says Pollard.

Journalist Sandy Sheehy, author of Connecting: The Enduring Power of Female Friendship, adds that “close friendships are good for you and good for your relationship in the long run.”  Unlike a love interest who has a stake in the outcome of your decisions, friends may be more objective in helping you decide if you should take a semester abroad or where to apply to grad school.

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