Dating In Social Circles
By Frank Kermit
Dating can be tricky. Does the other person like you the way you think he or she might? Do you really like that person enough to get more serious, or do you want to keep it more casual as you get to know them more, all the while risking that if you are not serious enough, that person might end up getting serious with someone else in the meantime? Will that person get along with my friends and my existing social circles? Will I get along with that person’s friends and social circles? Navigating these relationship management questions is part of the adventure of dating.
Sometimes, these concerns might be too overwhelming for some people, such that, they would prefer to date people that are already part of their existing friend groups and social circles. Intellectually, this would seem easier as the person you are dating is already accustom to the people you like to hang out with, and you already know everyone seemingly gets along. However, when you add romantic dating into the equation of maintaining social circles, it might be worse for you, that person and the entire social circle.
When dating someone in your existing social circle of friends, it is usually best to keep your dating between you and the person you are dating and not share details of your intimate meet ups with others in the group. This is especially necessary when you are still only at the beginning stages of dating. When initially dating someone, although it is expected that you both have an initial interest in each other, or at least are open to the possibility that something more could develop, it is also just as likely at this stage, that you might end up going on only a handful of dates and decide it is not meant to be.
Depending on where your personal boundaries are with sex and dating, this also may mean that the two of you might even have had sex by the time you decide to end the romantic connection, and just resume a friendship within the social circle. Some people can manage this process very well. Others may have a harder time being friends with someone they have already slept with, that remains in the social circle, especially if that person was the one that wanted to continue dating.
What many people do not factor in is that members of the social circle may have their own issues and problems with the people who decide to try and make a go of a romantic relationship. The reasons are various. It could stem from jealousy as there may have been someone in the social circle that had an interest in dating one of the couple, and now feels uneasy with the fact that the target of his or her affection chose someone else (a friend) to date first.
Another issue is that there might be someone in the social circle that simply does not have the maturity to handle the idea that two of their friends got together, dated, maybe even had sex, and ended it and that such an involvement is not fodder to be regularly brought up, made fun of, or a challenge to address.
By challenge I mean that sometimes, friends within a social circle, whom usually have the best of intentions, will make a mission of getting the former casual couple back together, even if it is against that couple’s wishes. Herein is where the real issues are when dating someone openly at the beginning stages of relationship, within a social circle. There will be people within that same social circle that will feel an obligation to involve themselves in the couple’s personal affairs. This kind of interference is rarely a good way for any couple trying to start the beginning of a potential relationship.
If you are thinking of dating someone that is already entrenched in your social circle, then strongly consider keeping the details about your romantic interests to yourself. Do not share your interest with others in the same social circle. If you do manage to get the person you are interested in on a date, do not share those details with the other members of your social circle. When you see the person you are starting to date at a social circle event, do not act like you are dating. Act friendly, but do not hold hands, cuddle, kiss or openly talk about the dates you have had. It may even be necessary to arrive and leave the events separately to avoid suspicion. If you behave correctly, no one in the social circle should have any inclining that the two of you are dating in any capacity, including having seen each other naked. Keep in mind this is a little more difficult than people think.
When couples get comfortable with each other, it is only instinctual to let that comfort show in very subtle ways (like standing extra close to each other in public, whereas most people still maintain a certain private bubble even between friends. Part of keeping the initial dating phase quiet is fighting this instinct.
If after dating a few times, one or both of the people in the couple decide to stop the romantic nature of their involvement, and wish to remain friends with the social circle intact, it will be easier to stay a part of the social circle. Break ups can split a social circle as members of the circle may start to take sides and get too involved in the private troubles that broke the couple up. Not being too public about the attempt at a more serious relationship beyond friendship is what helps keep a social circle together.
On the other hand, if after dating a few times the couple decides they like each other enough to get more serious, then the couple may go public with their relationship and thus inform the social circle of the new relationship status.
One of the benefits of this maneuver is that the couple in the relationship will have already formed a foundation for their relationship, such that when members of the social circle try to exhort any influence (again, not necessarily out of malice, but possibly out of good intentions), the influence may end up halted by what the couple has already established as part of their relationship boundaries.
One of the consequences is that some members of the social circle might have a bruised ego or hurt feelings that they were not included in the “big secret”. If this is the case, ignore it. Those are the same people who lack maturity that would have made dating openly in a social circle a nightmare.