All people have the need for emotional and interpersonal relationships with other people. We were born to interact with others – we are mammalian creatures. In order to avoid problems such as loneliness, depression, and anxiety, it is important for people to feel loved and accepted by other people. Personal relationships with friends, family and our partners play an important role in our day to day functioning. During this article I will talk about our social needs and how the differences in our social needs can lead to all kinds of communication issues.
Some of the things that can satisfy our social needs include romantic relationships, friendships and family. I will start this article by talking about friendship. The word friendship can mean different things to different people. The number of friends and the number of interactions with these friends will also differ for each of us. Making friends is something that might come easy for some yet is quite difficult for others. Good friends support you and give you a platform to be yourself. The amount of social interaction you will need will depend on you. Once you enter into a relationship, your need for individuality and friendships will not just go away, especially if you are a very social person. Locking yourself away from friends could do more harm to you relationship than good.
One of the biggest challenges for couples is to determine how to spend their time. Because we are so busy with work, we spend less and less time with our family and friends. I am of the opinion that you need to spend time with yourself, with your family and with your friends. Try to find a healthy balance. I believe that as long as time apart from your partner does not surpass your time together, spending time with friends is recommended.
During my work with couples, the first problem I encounter with regards to friends is a lack of good boundaries. You should always remember that people don’t have the same boundaries as you. Time with your friends is important but within acceptable boundaries. Never spend more time with your friends than with your family. Make sure that the boundaries are reasonable and clear.
The second problem that we encounter is when couples have friends of the opposite sex. It is not recommended to spend time with friends who you know make your spouse feel uncomfortable – especially if you have friends of the opposite sex. There can be some high risk areas to avoid. Make sure that you put in clear boundaries with your friends of the opposite sex. Your number one priority is towards your family. Respect for your relationship is very important and should never take a back seat.
As a couple it is very important to spend time with each other – quality time. We live in very busy times, and sometimes we put all our needs aside to take care of work, forgetting that we need to spend quality time with our partner and children. When you feel that you and your partner spend enough time together, time spent with friends is more welcomed. You need to make social time for you and your partner to have fun together. You also need to make time to spend with your children and to have fun as a family. FUN is a very important part of social interaction and the value of fun should never be overlooked. Also make sure to spend the right amount of time with yourself.
Remember that as mammalian creatures we need to be part of a group. Isolation from family and friends can cause harm to your relationship because we need interaction between us and society. With healthy boundaries, the interaction can be supportive and loving and it can aid to the happiness in your relationship. A word of caution: don’t let too many people have an impact on your relationship. Too many opinions can only make things more difficult. Remember that their opinions and advice can be very subjective and might not be best for you.
I would now like you to take a moment to think about your friends. What does the word friendship mean to you? How many friends do you have? Are they single or in relationships? Are you currently not spending time with friends, or are you still going out regularly? Do you go out as a couple or alone? You should also ask yourself whether your current friendships are life giving or life taking to your romantic relationship. If it’s not life giving you are going to have to change it. Make sure that you and your partner talk about your social needs. Be sure what you and your partner need – if your needs are not the same, try to negotiate a midway so that both people’s needs can be met.
Also read the other articles in the series: