At the risk of sounding clingy or oddly “bromantic,” I’d like to speak to men strongly desiring to date, dating seriously, engaged or married. To all of you I say: Don’t forget your friends.

Remember that scene at the end of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring when Frodo Baggins pushes off his canoe to begin a solitary journey to destroy the ring to rule                               them all?

As he sails off, Samwise runs down the hill to the river, screaming his name. As Frodo tells him to turn back, Samwise plunges into the water after him and, due to lack of swimming skills, begins to drown. Frodo is forced to turn back and rescue his best friend from drowning.

Some of you men treat your date, fiancé or wife like the ring you have to carry to Mordor in solitude so that you can cast it into the fire.

After you begin dating, you get in a metaphorical canoe and start sailing off with determination and a somber look to your platonic friends, asking some of them to turn back while they run after you.

Look, I get she’s your own, your precious. I understand you’ll need to feed that relationship more than all others because this is the person with whom you’ll be spending the rest of eternity. But, for goodness sake, that doesn’t mean you need to totally forsake the friends you’ve spent years creating memories with, getting through trials with and laughing with.

That just doesn’t make sense.

If your date or fiancé gets upset that you go out with friends on occasion or feed those relationships that have brought you to this point in your life and have filled your social and emotional needs long before she knew you, I’ll be honest, maybe she isn’t for you. Those relationships should be a part of who you are and why she is dating, courting or marrying you.

In that same vein, to me, it says a lot about a girl dating one of my friends if she can still be outgoing and fun with me when she comes to our apartment.

Conversely, I have been sitting in my living room when a roommate has brought a date home, and the two of them have sat down without saying a word to me. Sometimes, they’ll progress to moderate or intense physical affection, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Does that not raise a red flag to anyone else? To me, it really shows a lack of social skills. This person will be your wife, and she has no interest in the environment that has played a part in who you are? Does she really care?

It fascinates me that, earlier in the day, I could be having a normal or even a bonding conversation with a roommate, and now, when he’s with his girlfriend, I become a backdrop, a servant or anything besides someone who took the time to listen to him that morning.

This type of behavior would be questionable without a girlfriend, so why would it be acceptable when you get a girlfriend?

So here’s my request. When you find the one you want to develop a relationship with, make sure this person knows your friends come with you as a packaged deal. A small part of the package, but still a part. Remember, before you had her, you had them.