12/08/2014 11:08 BST | Updated 12/10/2014 06:59 BST

If Your Partner Is Your Only Friend, You Need to Get a Life


(Photo released under the public domain)

A study by relationship charity Relate has found that one in 10 people don't have a close friend.

During a phone-in radio show on the subject, many people got in touch to say their partners are their best friends, some even saying, 'why would I need friends when I have my husband / wife?'

Really? Are they serious? If your partner is your only close friend then sorry, that just isn't enough.

Friends are crucial to a happy healthy life, whether it's one friend or lots. I really began to understand this when I struggled with infertility. Sometimes, I needed to turn to friends to unload without putting that extra burden on my husband.

But it wasn't just the support those friends offered. It was the way having close friends made me feel like an individual. I wasn't defined by my marriage, by a family I might never have. I was me, an individual with my own individual friends. That gave me comfort.

And yet so many people do define themselves by their marriages. Some people isolate themselves from their friends and don't bother trying to make new friends, deluded and clueless in their sparkly relationships as they slowly lose their individuality.

They become 'one' entity, not two individuals. Some even have joint Facebook accounts and emails. Have they completely lost their individual identity, two people morphed into one?

And then who do they turn to when they need to vent about their relationships? And what happens if they split up? They're suddenly left with no-one. They feel like the person who they ought to be dissolves and it makes it all the more painful.

Of course, there are people who are painfully shy and struggle to make friends, their partners helping them to come out of their shells by introducing them to their friends. Or those who have moved to new towns, new countries. But you must make the effort to at least try to find someone who you can meet for a coffee, have dinner with, share the laughs and the tears with. It's not healthy for any relationship to rely on your partner for all this all of the time.

Speaking of time, many people say they don't have the time for friends when they have a family. Rubbish! I'm a mother who works four days a week and writes novels in my spare time and yet I still find time for my friends, even if it's an email during busy weeks.

Some parents say any spare time they have they want to relax. Sure, I sometimes get home from work and think I'd love nothing better than to curl up in my PJs and watch a film with my husband. But when I'm out and laughing with my friends over the crazy yurt holiday we had in Wales once, all the tension from my busy work day / baby nappy explosion / difficult scene in my novel dissipates.

If you're one of those people who spouts off about not needing friends because your partner is your best friend or because you're too busy, widen your horizons. Become an individual. Don't get into that unhealthy trap.