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Now that I am in a committed relationship, I have developed an ability to not relive the past and to learn from the mistakes I have made in prior relationships.
One mistake I know I have made in the past was to devote almost all of my time to my relationship and ignore the friendships I had had for much longer. With five years under my belt since that relationship, and a brand new one just beginning, I have realized that even though our budding relationship is very important, so are my friendships.
So here's my advice: For starters, never let the person you are with undermine your much-needed time with your friends. If he or she does, I really don't think they are worth your time. If they are worth your time, effort and love, then they will realize that friendships outside of the relationship are good for both of you. Remember, though, that it goes both ways, and you should encourage your significant other to spend time with his or her friends, too.
Let's face it, people are constantly busy with their own lives, so sometimes finding time to go out with the girls can be tricky. Nevertheless, my friends and I end up going out or doing something at least once a month.
In February, for example, we all met at Shoe Fly and celebrated my birthday. Let me tell you that this was a gal's dream come true. Spending time and laughing with friends, eating some really great food (including sugar cookies that had shoes painted in icing on them), having a few cocktails, and trying on seemingly endless pairs of shoes - what more could a girl want?
In January, one of my girlfriends invited a few of us over to her house for the best sushi dinner I have ever had. We all sat around the table preparing everything and then her husband taught us how to make our own sushi rolls. We all had so much fun talking and laughing. I have never eaten so much sushi in my entire life. It was wonderful.
In the past, we have gone out to dinner and then to a sappy chick flick that most men would run screaming from. Other times we have gone out to dinner and then to play bingo. Now that is some serious fun. Food is a running theme in all of our gatherings, can you tell?
We have even attempted to start our own book group. We have read one book so far in the past three months. We met and discussed the book for I think an entire 20 minutes before the conversation turned to other topics inspired by the book. This was all part of the fun, though, getting to spend time with people I care about and have fun with. We are planning to meet again, once we can find time to read the newly selected book.
I wouldn't trade the friends I have for anything in the world. Time and a little experience will teach you that spending time with the person you love is great, but you can always use some time with your girlfriends.
Amy Gaisford can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.