Will I become the ‘boring friend’ if I get into a relationship? 


A full social life and a new romantic interest need not be mutually exclusive. 

The other night, a great girlfriend of mine brought up a somewhat valid point. “You’re becoming boring, I can see it happening,” she said to me. It was in regards to a new proto-relationship (let’s call it that for now) that I’m in and how it could potentially limit my post-lockdown social time.

This proto-relationship is the first of its kind for me, in terms of authenticity and meaning. I care a lot about this person and it’s incredibly early days yet. At first, I was whiplashed by her call. Me? Boring? I think I’d be one of the last 20-somethings in Melbourne to forgo a night out or plans with friends in favour of a romantic interest.

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But then again, I do find myself pining to see this new person at any given chance. We’ve all had The Relationship Friend – the one that flits in and out of flings and re-emerges when there’s no S.O. in the picture. It can feel like lukewarm friendship, benching you when love is in the air and calling you back on court when things aren’t as rosy. 

On the other hand, the comment made me wonder if I’m just a ‘good times friend’. When I’m absent from Melbourne’s vaxxed summer antics am I only leaving a gaping hole of utter nonsense and intoxicated entertainment value? That’s a bit self-critical of me, but I think I’ve hinged a lot of my identity over the last few years (and maybe even past friendships) on late nights, big events and all the peripheral ‘fun’ stuff. 

Weirdly, I’m now attracted to nothing more than reliability, stability and energy preservation. That sounds so snore, but I promise you my OpenTable bookings are still bulked up for the next six days straight. I think the definition of being a boring friend can easily get muddied with how long you stay out on a Saturday night or how many tequila rounds you consume at the table.

I’ve definitely shunned mates past for shying away from a spontaneous night of questionable escapades. But dare I say it, I think my perspective and priorities are developing. Change is afoot, and friendship needs to be contingent on more than a no-show on a Saturday night. 

In saying that, the way you treat your friends when you get into those first few months of infatuation with an intimate partner is paramount. Of course, you’re honeymooning and heady with the new thing, but your friends are the anchors that have always been there for you in the off-seasons.

It’s crucial to remind them and reassure them how much they matter to you, and how much you want to spend time with them in this liminal chapter. If you’re seeing the lover on a Friday night, Saturday can be reserved for your bezzie mates. Or if you’re going away for the weekend, call your girlfriend on Sunday night and arrange some brunch, a walk, a gym class – anything.

Make plans and stick to them. Keep your date nights separate from your gals nights etc, and ensure there is a healthy balance between the two. You never know what will happen with a budding bedfellow, and you’ll want your social circle there for you when encountering inevitable bumps along the way, fucking up here and there, and for when you’re in need of others’ opinions. 

It’s fair for friends to have concerns (especially if triggered by other mates disappearing in similar circumstances), but you have to know who you are and what your priorities are as an individual. You can also combine the two and celebrate some good times with all parties involved.

Neglection can hurt, especially in these foreign wilderness days, where feeling left out of group bookings or seeing zillions of people breaking focaccia al fresco can lead to anxious feelings of loneliness or FOMO. We’re out again, we’re doing things we never did with our lockdown paramour, and we’re also trying to balance catching up with all of our old faithful favourites. It’s a lot, thrown in with a return to the office, family catch ups and rigorous workouts (that you can’t turn off after 20 minutes in your living room). 

You’ve also got to give yourself the solo time you need to restore those energy supplies. If it feels like a proverbial tug-of-war between your fledgling relationship and your friendships, you’re not even really factoring in what you desire and need. Maybe it’s a Friday night doing absolutely nothing, chilling with your housemate, ordering burgers and watching soul-hugging reruns of Dawson’s Creek

Differentiating the three-time divides (you time, social time, date-time) can help you feel out this new territory. When they say distance makes the heart grow fonder, it applies to platonic and romantic relationships, even if you want to be around them constantly. 

If any friends are worried about you dropping off the face of the social plains, reassurance is key. But don’t put too much pressure on yourself — you can’t be everything to everyone at all times. When someone new arrives on the scene, your time is divided down again between another important human. A bit of flakiness or fallen-through plans is natural, normal, and far from criminal.

If you’re guilty of some intermittent catch-up absence, articulate your feelings to a friend who is a bit concerned. They likely love you, miss you and feel angsty about not seeing you as often anymore. Tell them you’re not going anywhere and your relationship hasn’t changed, but you’ve just got a little less time available right now. Through communication, mutual respect and a little give and take, everything will be just fine. 

Genevieve Phelan is Fashion Journal’s Lifestyle & Careers Columnist. Her writing fuses introspection with investigation, calling on her own personal anecdotes and the advice of admired experts in the realms of intimacy, money, friendship, careers and love. You can find her here and here.

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