Hardcore Curriculum—October 6, 2009

Anna and Chris discuss spending too much time with your significant other and pursuing a friend of a friend.

By Anna Boyle and Chris Chavez

I am very happy with my current relationship, and really think I'm in love, but the relationship is taking up more and more of my time. At what point should I be worried that my life is out of balance?

Chris: A romantic relationship is definitely a big time drainer. That's to be expected, since the best things in life require a lot of time and effort. If you're starting to feel like your life is being thrown out of balance because of your relationship, you need to give your day-to-day a good hard look. Assess how much time you spend hanging out with your boyfriend or girlfriend, then think about your overall schedule. If you're constantly stressed and feel like you never have enough time, you're probably spending too much time with your significant other. The moment you feel like the relationship is taking time away from the rest of your life, like homework or friendships, then it might be time to cool things down a bit. Even the most stable, inseparable couples need time away from each other. In fact, a little distance typically strengthens relationships. Make sure to let your partner know that you need a little more time to yourself. If your he or she is serious about keeping the relationship healthy, they will understand your need to find balance between your love life and the rest of your life.

Anna: Chris is beating around the bush—if you need to ask, there is a problem. I know that being in love can put rosy, life-is-wonderful blinders on your social vision, but it’s time to give them back to Seabiscuit. There is an exercise I do whenever I think something is taking up too much of my time: I write down everything I do each day for a week on a sheet of plain paper, including who I did each activity with. If you notice that more than half of your activities take place exclusively with your significant other, then you need to step back and redistribute your time. Being with your significant other is certainly fun (at least let's hope so), but you need to remember the other people and activities in your life. As always, a little moderation is key.

I've been attempting to pursue a friend of a friend. But I'm not sure how to go about it without stepping on toes and alienating my friend. What should I do?

Anna: Be warned that this situation could easily become problematic. I would begin by asking your mutual friend if he thinks it’s a good idea. You might think that this isn’t really his business, but he's involved in your courtship whether you like it or not, simply because they introduced you two. Also, he or she knows your potential partner better than you do, so they will probably be willing to give you tips on wooing them or even tell you to back off if it’s a bad idea. Once you have their advice, go for it, but end their involvement there. The initial stage of courtship (I would say this is up until the end of date two) is the time when you can rely on your buddy for words of wisdom. After that, set up some boundaries with that friend. Tell her that she should tell you if she feels even a little uncomfortable with her new relationship with you and your mutual friend as a couple. Sometimes you just need a reminder of what constitutes as asking your friend for a little advice and what constitutes having them tangled up in your relationship.

Chris: The first steps in pursuing a new relationship, namely getting to know your potential partner, are always the hardest. When the dynamic between you and your love interest is complicated by a mutual friendship, it only makes things harder. Before asking out your love interest, you might want to talk to your friend first to see if he would be uncomfortable with the two of you starting a relationship. While finding a new girlfriend or boyfriend is an exciting prospect, you don't want to alienate your friends, especially the ones the two of you share. On the other hand, you also don't want to involve them more than necessary and create an awkward third-wheel scenario. In general, before jumping into this new relationship, think seriously about the fact that you two share a friend. If things go badly between the two of you, you better believe there will be some brutal competition for sympathy.

If you have a question about sex and relationships, submit it anonymously to Anna and Chris. Just click here!