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Opinion: Women choosing romantic relationships over friends is disheartening

A strong support system of female friends is just as valuable as a romantic relationship.
Image by Wejdan al Balushi
When the balancing act of platonic and romantic relationships is tipped off the scales, it is aching to see.

I have seen many women lose themselves in a relationship, and frankly, it makes me sad.

There is nothing wrong with being in a relationship, but it is disheartening when women stop hanging out with their friends, take focus away from their career or lose some of their hobbies as a result of a relationship. 

Obviously, a balance is needed when fitting a romantic relationship into your life. Some people do not know how to do that or do not want to. 

In high school, I lost a few friends because they stopped putting energy into our friendship once they got a boyfriend. It was not that they hung out with me less, they completely checked out of the friendship. 

It was exhausting to be in a one-sided friendship, so I left too.

One-sided romantic relationships are common, and once people see the signs, they tend to leave. One-sided friendships should be approached the same way. 

Now that I am in college, it is happening again. One of my close friends has trouble existing without her boyfriend. She brings him to designated girl’s nights without asking and is emotionally withdrawn from her friends when around him. It worries me. 

All of the women in my life have lost a friend to similar circumstances or know someone who has. The relationships with your female friends are crucial, so it does not sit right with me when I see women around me let go of their friends in favor of a romantic relationship. 

Emma Perpich, a fourth-year student at the University of Minnesota, said there is a difference between simply spending less time with a friend because of a romantic partner and taking a friend for granted. 

“Some people expect you to build their schedule around them,” Perpich said. “If they’re free because they aren’t hanging out with their boyfriend, they expect the friend group to be free.”

Perpich had a similar experience in high school where she lost friends to romantic relationships. She said she learned from their mistakes and strives to balance her romantic and platonic relationships and is grateful for that. 

“I think that was a hard balance because they didn’t have anyone to look at to see how to make a balance between two separate kinds of relationships,” Perpich said. “It showed me how important friends are when you get into a relationship and how you still have to nurture those friendships.” 

Cecilia Wallace, a fourth-year student at the University of St. Thomas, said seeing women around her prioritize romantic relationships over friends has negatively affected her. Wallace said she does not want to be someone who takes her friends for granted. 

“I sometimes neglect romantic relationships I may want to resume further because I don’t want to miss out on time with my female friends,” Wallace said. 

Wallace said she is frustrated with the number of times she has seen her female friends completely check out of friendships in her life.

“If you’re solely hanging out with your significant other, then you’re stunting your growth as a person,” Wallace said. “You need to see new people, talk to new people and do new things.” 

Elaina Mankowski, a fourth-year student at the University of St. Thomas, said she got into a relationship back in high school in which her boyfriend led her to push her friends away. Mankowski said she also drifted from hobbies she loved, including painting, writing and drawing.

Mankowski said her relationship regretfully lasted two-and-a-half years and was not the same after it ended. Her lasting relationships with friends and family helped her rebuild her life. 

“Once out of it, I knew I never wanted that to happen again, and that compromising my sense of self was not worth it,” Mankowski said. 

Mankowski said she is more self-aware and leans on her friends and family to avoid romantic relationships becoming the center of her life. 

I have seen many women lose sight of the importance of friendship and their sense of self. Seeing that and losing multiple friends has instilled a fear of making the same mistakes. It drives me away from wanting a romantic relationship at all. 

Lindsay Pidde, a fourth-year student at the University of St. Thomas, has a roommate who would only hang out with her boyfriend, and bring him to every social function. From an outside perspective, Pidde said seeing this persuades her to avoid romantic interactions. 

“It reminds me that it can be so easy to lose yourself and your independence,” Pidde said. “I can’t imagine that happening to me.” 

All of the women I spoke to said they would rather be on the receiving end of a one-sided friendship than be the ones taking their friendships for granted. I am in the same boat. 

It is okay to be in a romantic relationship and to want one. However, it is hard to watch some women dispose of their friendships so easily when we should all be supporting one another, especially in a patriarchal society.

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