As you grow older, you will find that the people you have in your life often reflect what stage you are going through. When you are young and wild, so are your friends. When you are diligent and studious, you tend to hang around others who are learning and training; and when you head into the stage in your life when you are settling down and thinking of starting a family, you will likely look for friends who are doing the same.
Other major changes in your social circle occur when you enter a serious, long term relationship. You will find that your time is spent doing activities in which you can include your significant other. While it is important for you to keep in touch with your long-time friends, whether they are single or attached, you will naturally start migrating toward people with whom you can spend time with your partner.
It is different having couple friends than it is hanging out with someone you have always been friends with. For one thing, a friend you bring in to the relationship is a friend that is always going to be your friend first. You will share a history and stories that might leave your significant other feeling left out. Furthermore, your friend may not necessarily appreciate you including your significant other in all of your plans, because it won’t be the same as when just the two of you hang out together.
The beauty of couple friends is that they will often be hitting many of the same landmark moments along with you. If you are at the stage of moving in together, buying your first home, getting married, or having your first child, it is nice to have people around who are hitting the same milestones so that you can compare notes and obsess together.
Forging a new couples friendship
It is one thing to say that you would like to have some new couple friends in your life, but it is an entirely different thing to pull off. If you think dating is difficult, consider this: in dating, only two people have to have a spark. When you are courting new couples, there has to be chemistry (without sparking jealousy) among four different people. This means that if just one of you finds any of the others a bore or obnoxious, that’s the end of that!
There are several places you can meet potential couple friends. A great place is at group activities, where you already know you have something in common. Another good place to meet new couples is through other friends (but be careful you don’t spurn the friend-in-common who might not appreciate getting dumped for a newer, hipper couple!), or through your kids and their activities. If you have kids, having another couple with kids around their age is a precious commodity, because then you not only have common ground, you also have a distraction for your children.
One place that might seem like a good place to meet new couple friends is at work. While this might seem like a logical place to make friends (you have work in common, you spend a good part of your life there, etc.), there a couple of obvious pitfalls. First, consider if it is doesn’t work out between the four of you. What if your partner hates his partner, or vice versa? For the same reasons that it’s awkward to date within the office, it is difficult to start couple-tionships. If it doesn’t work out, how are you going to face them every day afterward? At least when dating , you know getting dumped is a possibility: what happens when you have to dump a couple, and then continue working together?
Building the friendship
When you are starting to get to know a couple, make sure that most of your activities are low-pressure. Like dating, there is a certain level of anticipation and expectation, and you don’t want to lead another couple on if you know right away it’s not clicking for one of you. Continue getting together to do group activities, invite them out with other couples to see how they are in social situations.
Once you get to know the couple a little better, and if both of you are responsive (don’t force your company on other people if they are resisting it), make sure you protect the couple friendship by understanding the boundaries. If the four of you are jiving, don’t put undue strain on the friendship by asking the others to pick sides if you and your significant other are in a squabble. This requires dividing loyalties (usually along gender lines) and might make the other couple feel awkward enough to stop returning your calls.
Perks for your relationship
Having couple friends that you both like can take some of the pressure off of social situations if one of you is a little shier than the other. Attending social events with another couple that your significant other is comfortable with lets you off the babysitting hook for part of the evening. You significant other will have more than just you to count on for a social buffer.
Another perk will probably be that you will get to see your partner in a different light when you are hanging out with a couple you both like, than you do when the two of you are alone. When you add just one person into a duo, it changes the dynamic, and you will notice that even more when you add another two personalities into your life. In getting to know another couple, you may also learn more about your partner. In conversation, the four of you will broach topics that you might not bring up between you, allowing you to learn new dimensions of your partner. From books to politics, there is always going to be things about your partner that will surprise you, and different people will bring out different sides.
Finally, new couple friends will likely get you involved in activities or hobbies that you had never tried before. Most couples get together to do activities, and in fact, this is a great way to meet new couples: find an activity that both you and your partner are interested in and join a group to learn more about that activity. Once you get to know a couple well, they will likely introduce you to different activities and hobbies that interest them, and you will do the same.
Having couples that you can hang out with takes some of the pressure off of a relationship, as it provides social outlets and opportunities that might not exist if all you are depending on is each other. Having a varied social circle that includes both old friends and a growing group of new friends will provide new opportunities to grow and build a life together.