Good day Mona:
My relationship is on hold for some reason. My partner and I are discussing the relationship as well as the changes we both need to make. I have a gay friend or two. So does my partner. Our problem is how do we manage our separate gay friends? Are we allowed to see or visit them in the absence of the other partner? Should our separate friends becoming mutual friends?
Good day to you, mate:
Friends serve great purpose in our lives as listening ears, often protectors, outlets against stress and difficulty, and sometimes our crystal balls with the ability to see what's really going on as opposed to what we think is happening. Friends often know us better than we know ourselves, which helps them give insight into tricky situations. In this way good friends don't show the full strength of their super powers until drama unfolds.
While mutual friends are a great way for couples to add experiences to their relationship, maintaining separate friends is equally important for the reason mentioned. Despite insights, keeping your own friendships allows you to maintain levels of independence, that done appropriately can strengthen the relationship with your man.
Ultimately, your friendships are individual relationships. If your man is also friends with them, you each will have your own dynamics. This adds complication, as you already suspect since relationship drama puts mutual friends in the middle of delicate situations. Sides are sometimes taken and individual relationships lost. Often, this can't be avoided. This is why it's important to take caution that your separate friends respect your choices by giving you insight, but letting you drive the eventual solution.
The best advice I can give is to trust in the power of your decisions. When we think of decisions, we often consider only the active choices, but more we more frequently make more passive choices without knowing it. Some call this our gut or instincts. They guide us away from what could be danger and into the direction of what we truly desire (which sometimes is not what we consciously think we want).
So, how do you manage separate and mutual friends? Consider this:
Know the Dynamics
As the classic G.I. Joe once said, knowing is half the battle. For your health and the health of your relationship and friendships, know what personal dynamics are in play. Take a close look at which friends socializes well with your man and which hold tension. Also notice who your man gets on with easily and which pals are a struggle for him to interact with.
Get to the Root of the Issues
It's not your job to play peacekeeper, as you aren't responsible for the other peoples' actions, happiness or dissatisfaction. You can make informed decisions armed with as much information as possible. What kind of dish are you looking for? Dig deep into why certain friends get along or don't get along with your man. What is the drama about? If there is tension, there are personal feelings that are not resolved. You should get to the bottom of what these issues are so that you can decide when to hang out with certain friends alone or together with your man.
Build an Alliance
OK, you aren't recruiting an army for battle, but you should be aware of which friends (mutual or personal) have your back and which are more loyal to your man. I say this not to anticipate drama, but so that you know which friends you can talk in confidence with. At the beginning I talked about friends being a good tool to vent frustrations in a relationship. Sometimes these frustrations are just that and nothing more. What you don't want is to vent an issue with a friend only to have him or her repeat the conversation to your man. There's no way to know for sure who would vent your information and who won't, but be aware which friends are better sounding boards than others. Say you're considering taking a job in another city. Which friends are likely to listen to your fears and joys in confidence and which are likely to tell your man before you, rightfully, have first opportunity.
Create Happiness With Your Friends
We make choices every day to do what's right for us or what we think is right for us. The hard part is knowing the difference. This applies to your friends as well. They may have good intentions (or think they do) with the advice they give and how they interact with both you alone and you as a couple with your man. Sometimes, these good intentions can conflict with what you and your man have discussed or what you feel is best for you. In this situation, remember what we spoke of earlier about knowing the difference between what we want and what we think we want; know which friends are there with genuine support and which you can confide in; and, what dynamics exist between both your individual and mutual friends and your man. The key to a happy balance of individual friends, mutual friends, and alone time is staying aware of the changing dynamics of each relationship. Sounds exhausting and it can be, but no one said happiness was easy. Quite the opposite. Drama is easy, happiness and balance in life takes work.
Put in that work and choose what feels best and have a good time all while protecting and going after what you truly want.
Yours in friendship,