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We recently published a story about a married woman who told her single friend that they could no longer hang out because she’s single. That concept was jarring for me because I can’t imagine the prospect of getting so wrapped up in one person that I’m willing to push a friend away simply because my husband asked me to. To me, such an agreement sets a precarious precedent.

We don’t know much about the details surrounding the husband’s request, nor do we know if there was any pushback from the writer’s friend. We’re simply left to assume that the wife willingly gave her friend up simply because the husband asked. We don’t have that insight because the writer didn’t. But, in this situation, the writer’s former friend could have at least explained what she believes might have motivated her husband to ask such a thing and why she was willing to agree.

Let me say I absolutely understand and believe marriage is sacred. Once you jump the broom–better yet, once you accept a marriage proposal–your partner has to become a priority in your life. Similarly, you should be a priority in theirs. Any request your spouse might make should not be taken lightly or dismissed because, presumably, they’re making it for good reason. That said, your partner can’t be your entire world. In a marriage, it’s true that your spouse should be central to your life, but you also need to maintain connections to other people outside of your marriage. Whether those “other” people are single or married is, apparently, up for debate.

On the flip side, however, there are those who totally throw other relationships by the wayside when they find love –not marriage, not even a committed relationship, just love. I’m sure many of us can recall how certain friends have all but vanished from our lives when they start dating someone. They’ll be MIA for weeks or months while they’re caught up in the rapture of love. Some of that distance could simply be due to the infatuation new couples often feel. But it could also be that your friend has made their new boo their one and only focus.

Remember Season 1 of Living Single when Khadija got a new man (Alonzo) while Scooter was away? She was so wrapped up in the glow of new love that she hardly had time for her girls outside of work. While Khadija was enjoying all the coziness of a new relationship, her friends were left out in the cold. That became a problem after a while because he was her constant accessory. Her girls felt like they couldn’t just have girl time. Thankfully, after a while, she found some balance.

Sadly, some women never find balance between their partners and their friends, which is dangerous because everyone needs to retain some level of independence, even in dependent relationships. If you don’t, you run the risk of losing your own identity which tends to foster resentment down the line. And if things don’t work out, in the midst of dealing with heartbreak, you also have to do the work of regaining your sense of self and determining who you are outside of that relationship.

When you lose yourself in love, you don’t get to enjoy the wholeness of who you are anymore. You and your partner may only indulge in the things you both like, which isn’t so bad when you have a lot in common. But if you don’t have a lot of overlapping interests, this can be rather limiting. There is always the option of discovering new things together, but what about the things you as an individual used to love that they’re not into? It’s not required that you give up those things to maintain a healthy, happy relationship. In fact, it’s necessary to hold on to things you love because you are still a whole, individual being within this relationship.

Setting the expectation that you and your partner will only spend time with each other can leave you feeling rather isolated. When you need a breather after an argument, where are you going to go for a quiet moment alone? If you want to talk to someone you trust about the relationship, who can you turn to? Worse yet, if you are in real trouble with your relationship, where can you go to be safe? We all need a community, making your partner the only other person in yours, could backfire in terrible ways.

Love is wonderful, and it can be all-encompassing. When you commit to someone, you need to give the relationship your all in terms of effort, but you should never lose who you are while doing so. Whether married or just dating, you have to reserve some of your life for yourself. How much of that includes time with your friends and family is up to you. Just remember, happy relationships require at least a little bit of independence.

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