Group Chat is a weekly series where HuffPost UK writers address the diary dilemmas we all face and how to reclaim our social lives in a busy world.
One of the best things about relationships is the friends you gain along the way – and while I know that sounds like a quote you’d find on a cheesy wooden sign in a nicknack shop, in my experience it’s true.
Finding love is fun and exciting. It fills every fibre of your being with happiness. And as that love grows, meeting that person’s friends and building relationships with them is equally as wonderful. It’s something I’ve only reflected on recently.
In the throes of a new relationship, I find meeting my partner’s friends more terrifying than his family – possibly because these are the people he has actively chosen to be in his life. I want to like them and, being the people-pleaser I am, I desperately want them to like me.
I’ve always made an effort with my boyfriend’s friends – and, especially with my partner now, I’m so glad I have. My life certainly would’ve lost a lot of its colour – the laughs, the memories, the dinner discussions – without them.
I met my first serious boyfriend at college and already knew his friends. We would hang around in a group and drive to McDonald’s at lunchtimes. We’d go drinking after college. We’d head to my house to chill out – or to go his and watch Come Dine With Me with his dad. We’d share stories, go on adventures and, if life threw curveballs, give each other much-needed advice.
When Boyf No. 1 and I split after three years, I stayed friends with two of his mates. I helped one set up a business, attended his wedding, and went on many nights out with him. The other friend would often pop to mine for cups of tea. He even came to the cinema with my parents and I on one occasion – kind of strange on reflection, but also nice. He was part of the family.
Those friendships far outlasted the relationship and, while we speak less now I live in London – and life has, like it often does, got in the way – I’ll always treasure what we had.
Things were different with Boyf No. 2. We’d been mates for years and shared a group of friends – we all worked in retail together. He had a separate friendship group from school – a big group of guys – but I didn’t get much of an opportunity to get to know them. He tended to keep his relationship and friendships separate.
Fast forward to Boyf No. 3 – my current partner – and it’s a much happier story. Many of our friends are coupled up, so we often all go out together. Equally, we have single friends who come and stay with us. Sometimes we’ll all hang out together, and sometimes we’ll do things separately – and that’s fun too. It’s all about balance.
One couple in particular have become a huge part of both our lives. My partner met them at university and has stayed close to them. The four of us see each other regularly, have been on holiday together and always, without a doubt, have fun together. I love them in the way you love your closest friends – people you trust wholeheartedly. Those who bring you absolute joy, who you can open up to, but also have a laugh with every time you see them.
Case in point: not long ago I’d finished work in a really low mood. I’d gone home to clean up before they came over for dinner – we were cooking them a celebratory meal as they’d just got engaged. I couldn’t get myself out of this funk – it felt like the world was ending around me.
But then they arrived. And it all dissipated. Slowly, I started to relax, get caught up in the moment, and the dark cloud just faded away. These two amazing people standing in my kitchen were going to get married, and they’d chosen to celebrate that with us – and in that moment, I was so humbled I had them in my life.