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Lisa Bahar, MA, LMFT, LPCC | Article

How to Keep the Friendship Alive in Your Romance

5/4/2013
by Whitney Coy

FEEDING THE FRIENDSHIP

Friendship is the base of any good relationship, but how do you keep that friendship alive? It’s not as easy as you might think!

Any strong relationship is built on a solid base of friendship. It's that friendship that strengthens your bond and helps you endure some of the not-so-wonderful days you have together. So it's understandable that when the friendship between you and your man weakens, the rest of the relationship is likely to follow.

Unfortunately, it's pretty common for the friendship part of your relationship to be neglected. Once that happens, everything else tends to lose its luster too. So what can you do to keep that friendship alive? We asked some experts to give us their tips.

Remember why it happened
It's so easy to focus on where we are today without thinking about how we got here. Dan Collins, co-author of dating advice column "Single in the City," says the best way to keep the friendship alive in your relationship is to remember what started it in the first place, and revisit whatever that was.

"Love may be at first sight, but friendship generally takes time. So, take the time... take time to just talk, talk about the things you bonded on in the first place," he says.

Have some fun
It's easy to get so bogged down with all the commitments and things we have to do in our lives that we forget about what we want to do. Rachel Seliger, relationship expert from JDate, stresses the importance of fun in nurturing friendship.

"Find an activity you both enjoy and do it together!" she says. She and her boyfriend enjoy cooking together, but your options are limitless. Play a sport, become movie buffs, brew your own beer or shop until you drop — just as long as you are both having fun, it works.

Be a good friend
Before you start listing the reasons your mate isn't being a good friend, ask yourself if you're being one in return.

Licensed marriage and family therapist Lisa Bahar says, "One of the best ways to explore friendships is to ask yourself what is a good friend, make a list, and read that list and then ask yourself are you demonstrating those qualities to your spouse? If not, those are the areas you need to work on as being a friend to your spouse."

Do the little things
How long has it been since he opened a car door for you or since you picked up a bag of those chips that he loves but you hate?

Dr. Simon Rego, Director of the CBT Training Program at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, gives a lot of credit to something he calls microbehaviors. "Microbehaviors are all the little things that people do for one another when they first meet, but are slowly but surely dropped, often one at a time, over time. I call them microbehaviors because they are so small and subtle that people may not always be aware that they've stopped doing them! However, over time, as more and more of them are dropped, people can start to feel a loss of connection to their partner," he says.

Ride it out
Any relationship has its ups and downs; the key is being able to make it through.

"Manage your expectations," says Wendy Walsh, Ph.D., resident expert at DatingAdvice.com and author of The 30-Day Love Detox. "Long term monogamy is hill and valley — you'll be friends and foes, but hopefully you've made the intellectual commitment to ride out the valleys — and before you know it — your friendship will be at the top of the mountain with a clear view again soon."