By Natalia Lusinski
When your best friend gets into a new romantic relationship, sometimes it can feel as though the friendship starts to change. It may seem like your friend has less time for you, and you no longer feel as close. Perhaps it seems like they have different priorities and interests.
But an evolving friendship doesn’t have to be a bad thing, and there are ways to stay tight and continue to grow your connection. Below, experts share ideas on how to successfully navigate the new dynamic between you and your best friend.
First, be patient
When someone’s in a new partnership, it’s easy for them to get swept up in excitement and pull away for a bit. However, this shouldn’t last forever, so “be patient and give it a few weeks,” says therapist Dr. Courtney Conley. If you were in the same position, you’d probably behave the same way, adds psychologist and friendship expert Dr. Irene S. Levine. So when a best friend starts a romantic relationship, “Be attentive to cues about your bestie’s time commitment right now and give them space if they need it.”
While it’s par for the course to give a friend a few weeks or months of space, it’s not okay if your friend starts blowing you off or completely ignores you. If that happens, you may want to reevaluate how much time you’re willing to invest in your friendship.
Try not to take it personally
Our experts agree that you shouldn’t take it personally when your friend is not as available to you. “All friendships tend to ebb and flow because people’s lives are constantly in flux,” Levine says. “While it’s reasonable to feel the loss, it’s important to remember that the person isn’t replacing you. Rather, their partner is a new addition to your friend’s life.”
However, this may be easier said than done. Danielle Bayard Jackson, Bumble’s resident friendship expert, suggests reframing the situation. “Try to see this as you and your bestie against the issue, not you against your bestie, as though they have to choose between you and their significant other,” she explains. “Don’t assume your friend is being selfish or no longer cares about you.”
Be honest about how you’re feeling
The next step is to reflect on what feelings are coming up. “It’s reasonable to feel angry, hurt, or jealous when other relationships come in and shift our friendship,” therapist Brooke Sprowl says. “So accept those feelings and know it’s okay to have them.” More importantly, “Don’t act like you don’t care,” says Bayard Jackson. “While you might want to come across as unbothered, if that is not truly reflective of how you feel, that’s not healthy.” She suggests getting clear on what’s bothering you the most. Is it less time with your friend? Missing them? Feeling you’ll lose them? This can help you figure out what you really need from your friend right now.
Once you identify your feelings, communicate them with your friend, but be careful how you do it. Sprowl says to focus on your needs and feelings, then find a way to share them with your friend versus lashing out. “Don’t say, ‘I need you to do something different,’” Sprowl says. “Instead try, ‘I’d really love to spend quality time together. Would you be open to scheduling a regular friend date?’ Be very direct with your needs and requests, using positive language instead of judgment or criticism.”
Creating boundaries is not only important when it comes to your bestie keeping plans with you, but also when it comes to the actual one-on-one time you have together. For instance, Bayard Jackson says you may need to establish boundaries if your bestie starts canceling plans with you at the last minute to see their significant other instead. “You can say, ‘If we make plans, I get really excited about it, and I’d like to see you. It throws me off when you back out at the last minute,’” she says. “This will put them in a position where they can commit to improving.”
Boundaries can be helpful when the two of you meet up in person, too. Your friend might, for instance, dominate the conversation talking about their new partner. Bayard Jackson says you can playfully say: “I’m going to give you five minutes to tell me all about your love life—because I do want to hear about it—but then I want to hear about what’s going on at work!”
Keep busy with new friends
When your best friend gets into a new relationship, it could be a great time to strengthen existing friendships or explore new ones. “It’s healthy to have multiple friendships of varying closeness,” Conley says. Reach out to other friends, or make new ones. This is where Bumble For Friends, Bumble’s dedicated friendship-finding app, can help. You can even use Advanced Filters to find other single people if you’d like. It’s not about replacing your friend, but about keeping your life full—and finding the connections you want and need.
Evolving friendship dynamics can be tough to navigate—especially when you’re dealing with a really close friend. But if you approach the situation with good intentions and focus on clear communication, your friendship may end up even stronger than before.