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Balance Friends and Romantic Partners and THE RACHEL INCIDENT by Caroline O'Donoghue

Cover of the book The Rachel Incident by Caroline O'Donoghue used to describe the concept of balancing friends and romantic partners.

James and Rachel (think Will & Grace) live together, work together, and rely heavily on each other for emotional support. The phrase “best friends” doesn’t do their relationship justice. When Rachel experiences wonderful, scary, exciting, or sad things, the first person she tells is James. James is Rachel’s safety person, whom she values and prioritizes over all others.


Rachel and James are so close that their bubble has no space for anyone else. This could be a different problem if Rachel and James were in love. But James is gay, and Rachel is straight.  


Rachel is dating Carey but doesn’t share her inner life with him because she always has James.


Some people ditch their friends once they get into a serious relationship. Others are so enmeshed with their friends that they fail to carve out space for their significant other.


Finding balance is hard, but it’s important. Friends provide long-term support, whereas romantic partners may come and go. Ignoring friends leads to hurt feelings and chilled relationships. Romantic partners (like you) continually assess if they want things to progress. If you don’t share your time, energy, and emotions with the person you’re dating, your relationship will crumble due to a lack of depth.


Here are tips for creating balance between friends and romantic partners:


Actively and Openly Communicate: Be present with whoever you’re with, and avoid texting or communicating with someone else. Tell your friends and partner that you want to spend time with both groups and work with them on making plans that meet everyone’s needs (including yours!).


Follow Through On Your Commitments: Organize your schedule with balance upfront and, when you agree to be with your friend or partner, avoid canceling – especially if it’s non-emergent, last minute, and prioritizing someone else.


Be Your Authentic Self: You are amazing. There are a million reasons that your friends and the person you’re dating all want to spend time with you! Share your thoughts, feelings, insights, opinions, hopes, dreams, and fears with friends and romantic partners.



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