"Ako o 'yang mga barkada mo?" You've probably heard this line from your fuming girlfriend. Your first thought is probably: "Who should I choose?" But the real question is: Should you really pick between your S.O. and your pals? We talked to Dr. Tyler Ong, PsyD, MS, a Cebu-based psychologist, to walk us through this relationship dilemma.
Dr. Ong says it would be best not to make a choice as how you are as a lover is a separate identity from that of a friend.
"Don't pick," he advises. "The relationship between lovers is of a different quality than those of friends."
Your girlfriend probably wants you to cut your ties off with your friends, Dr. Ong explains, because she feels that you don't provide a healthy balance between her and your friends.
"[A woman wants her partner to choose when she] feels there is not enough intimacy in the romantic relationship, which she attributes to the expending of time, effort, and resources on the man's group of friends as opposed to her. So she begins to demand more time and attention as proof she is still important in the man's life," Dr. Ong notes.
The best thing to do is to spend equal time. When you hang out with your barkada, make sure to take her on a date or do something special with her the following day. Remember, balance is the key to a happy and healthy relationship.
It's also a great move to talk about the issue. Both parties need to come to an understanding that there is a boundary between friends and lovers, and that rules need to be agreed on.
"Majority of couples assume a lot about relationship rules, which must be agreed on or created mutually from the start. For example, what is acceptable for the woman regarding time and places spent and with which kinds of friends? Should their be communication regarding what's going on in that place and time? If the man finds this invasive, then both can come to a compromise regarding what will soothe each other in that scenario."
If these options don't solve the issue and your girlfriend continues to insist that you take a side, you have to evaluate who is more important in your life.
"But there should be the realization that with every decision regarding relationships, there are consequences which might get complicated over time," Dr. Ong warns. "If one is willing to accept that, then make that decision. But for me, there is really no mandatory situation that can arise where one is expected to sacrifice one relationship over another. We tend to just perceive that there should be a forced choice."
Dr. Ong advises that if you need help on handling the issue, it would be best to seek the help of a professional third party (example, a couples therapist).
Dr. Tyler Ong, PsyD, MS is a clinical psychologist, and family and marriage therapist. For consultation, you can visit his clinic at 317 Medalle Bldg. Fuente Osmeña, Cebu City.