Is Two Better Than One?

Since Matt and I moved to Chicago, we’ve made four sets of good couple-friends. When we arrived, the majority of the people we knew were paired off, so we often found ourselves in environments—dinner parties, weddings—that encouraged couple flirting.

Though I adore the duos—and I do!—at first I felt like couple-friending was an annoying side effect of moving in with a boy. I wanted a BFF just for me! Suddenly all my new friends had to come with a side of man for Matt?

The desire for couple-friends makes sense, of course. These days we’re all so busy, double dating is like killing two birds with one stone: you get to see friends and you get a date night. A twofer! Also, studies show that couples who have couple-friends have happier and longer relationships with each other.

As a pair, Matt and I have always had a relatively easy time befriending new twosomes. I want to say it’s because our whole is greater than the sum of our parts. We’re just such a dazzling duo. (You’re gagging. I know.) But as I write this in the same space I usually use to discuss the awkward hilarity of trying to date potential friends, it’s not lost on me that perhaps the key factor in our couple flirting is simply Matt. Maybe I’m just the silly sidekick, like Cockroach. Or Kimmy Gibbler.

Nope. I’m going with the dazzling duo theory.

Regardless, today I heard from two people who complained about the difficulties of making couple-friends. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it stands to reason it’d be harder to find a couple-BFF than just a single one. After all, to become BFFs two people have to hit it off. To become couple-friends, you need four people on board.  As psychologist Judith Sills told Ladies Home Journal: “Good friendships are a rare phenomena in any case. Good couple friendships are a rare phenomena squared.”

In meeting new women during my solo BFF quest, I’ve certainly toyed with the “but will Matt like her guy?” question. My usual conclusion is, doesn’t really matter. I’m in this to find my BFF. But still, it’d be stellar if the friendship and the marriage could intermingle.

I’ve only given this a whirl once thus far. A potential friend and I hit it off so we decided to have dinner again and this time we’d drag the boys along. Matt was a great sport about it, though I’m sure a part of him would’ve been thrilled to never get pulled into this project. Luckily, the evening was a hit. All was well.

Matt and I made two of our best couple-friends at a wedding of a couple we all had in common. (Side note: You may be asking why the female halves of these couples aren’t my BFFs. The truth is, in some of the cases I feel like we work best in the context of our foursome.) In case you aren’t on the wedding circuit but are looking for couple friends, there are—surprise!—websites for couple dating. For real., and all serve to set up couples with common interests for friendships. Those looking to drop keys in punch bowls need not apply.

So here’s what I’m wondering. If you’re single, is it totally annoying when all your friends pair off and do the couple-friend thing? If you’re in a couple, do you think it’s easier to make one-on-one friends or couple friends? Do you think couple-friending is vital to the health of your own relationship? And any ideas for how to best meet couple friends? Would you use the Interweb? And, please, is there a better word I can use next time than couple-friend?


Filed under BFFs and Marriage

24 responses to “Is Two Better Than One?

  1. Jenny

    For the record, you could never be Cockroach or Kimmy Gibler (though I thoroughly enjoyed your 80s/90s TV references). I’d say you’re more of a D.J. or Theo.

  2. Oh man, this is so timely for me! My husband works with a guy that’s new to our city (new to our state, for that matter) so they became friends and we invited their family to our house one day. To add to the mix…they had two kids and we had to kids (all close in age) so the “moms” had to get along and the kids had to get along. It went well for awhile, and the other mom/wife and I even went out in the evening a few times sans hubbies and kiddos. But then, I just wasn’t feeling it as much anymore. Now I’m in the predicament of: a husband who still wants to get the families together because he’s friends with the other guy…and their kids still want to get together with our kids…and I really don’t. Hmmm, huh? So I vote that if the couples thing works, great–but there’s too much intertwined baggage…if one wants to “break up” with the other, then it gets sticky.

    • That IS a hard one! Do you feel like you have to suck it up for the good of the group, or do you tell your husband that you’re just not that into them? You’re right though, each extra person adds extra baggage… and kids add a whole other element!

      • And, to be fair, I should say that the other mom/wife is probably “just not that into me” either because she has backed off, too. It’s funny because people can be perfectly wonderful people, as she is…and I hope to think I am, but you click in different ways. Nothing personal, really.

        • But to answer your question–I don’t feel like I have to suck it up for the group…we actually don’t see them anymore as a group. Another situation, similar to the first actually with the guy/husband being new from out of state working with my husband, has turned out much better in that the wife/mother and I are friends and we get the families together, too (seeing them this weekend, actually!) So there’s hope! 🙂

  3. Ana

    Kimmie Gibbler!!! Cracked me up. what about “Six”?

    Good question. Its funny that we have several couple friends…even a bestest couple…the 4 of us are GREAT together. But I wouldn’t consider the female half my BFF, though we do hang out sometimes & get along well. I think its because we met in the context of the couple— & oddly enough its usually my husband meeting the woman at work (he works with a lot of women!) Its a different dynamic, but on the rare occasions that it works, its really really wonderful!

    Now when you add kids into the mix, I bet it’ll get harder…for the husbands, the wives, and the kids to all get along really seems like too much to ask. I’m sure if we find a friendship like that, we would work incredibly hard to maintain that!

  4. Anonymous

    Ive just recently entered couple-date land and am only beginning to navigate the dynamics. It’s all very new to me! However, what I’ve found so far is that couple-friending seems to be much easier than meeting new friends on my own. Granted, many of the couple-dates I’ve been on are with my boyfriend’s friends and their significant others, or my friends and their significant others (so at least two people in the party already know eachother well). But, I do find it easier to connect with the other females of the group when I’m in this “foursome” setting. Aside from the whole “our boyfriends are friends and we’re probably gonna need to like eachother because our boyfriends like to hang out a lot” thing, there’s also a common ground to start from no matter what. We can also get to know eachother at a quicker pace by watching one another’s dynamics with our partners. For example, watching another couple bicker about opposite tastes in shows taped on the DVR can lead right to a conversation about how you feel the same way without having to prompt the other person with specific questions. With couple-friending, it seems like observation of the other couple’s interactions plays a key role in getting to know one another rather than simply asking interview-ey questions. It just feels more natural! I also just think the dynamic of a foursome always fills awkward gaps in conversation. For example, if you DON’T like the other female on your couple-friend date, you can always interrupt awkward and annoying side discussions by redirecting your attention to the other twosome’s convo!

  5. My husband and I have two best couple BFFs, and I often describe it as the “holy grail:” the women are friends, the men are friends, and we have kids the same age who are friends. It’s kind of like lining up stars. I think we just got lucky.
    I do think that there is something about friendships in the context of a couple AND something about friendships that are just about the individual women … both are valuable. Somehow when it’s a couple friend, the center of gravity of the friendship changes a little, right?

    • Ana

      I think you said what I was trying to say!! The two types of friendships are very different. I value both, but find that these days, with a young baby, when date nights are few and far between, we end up with our couple friends so we can both go out together.

  6. Emily

    i hope to meet other couple-friends (how about cuddies…couple-buddies combined…ok, that’s bad, sorry) when my son starts school. Lots of things to talk about to make a connection. The hard part is when you have to coordinate activities. It’s 4 schedules to coordinate vs. 2. When there are kids involved, it gets even harder. I am never a big fan of asking a friend, “do you guys want to______” and shehe replies, “let me check with my husband/wife.” I know it’s the natural response, but it almost is like saying “let me check to see if it is even something we want to do or you are people we want to do it with”.
    I also find that if a couple that we like and want to get together with already has another couple that they see frequently, it’s super hard to break into that “clique”. I once suggested that we all get together for a group Valentine’s Day dinner and they replied, “ohhhhh, that’s kind of our yearly tradition to do that”. Ok, won’t make that mistake again with them.
    Oh, and the “side of man for Matt” comment…funny stuff. I really enjoy reading this blog.

    • Thanks Emily. And I couldn’t agree with you more on the “let me check with the other half” comment. Sometimes I can tell it’s a scheduling thing, but other times it does seem as if they need to hold a tribunal to decide whether you’re a worthy couple! Funny about the Valentine’s Day thing. Yikes. Their loss…

  7. Jackie

    I’ve found that it’s easier to make couple friends, but they have a whole dark side of their own. My fiance and I are starting to hang out much more with his BFF and BFf’s wife. We always have a wonderful time and I really enjoy it. The only thing I don’t enjoy now is the, “Don’t tell Trish that Kevin went golfing with me on Tuesday instead of working till 5.” part of it. Or, “If Kevin knew that I went shopping on Saturday instead of to my mother’s like I told him, he’d kill me. Don’t tell your fiance, because he may tell Kevin.” Or, ” Kevin told Trish that he went ring shopping with me last Monday so he could come golfing. If she asks, just tell her that.” Now I have more secrets to keep! I know it’s only a matter of time before something slips! Maybe this isn’t the case for couples that are truly just couple friends. Perhaps this situation is complicated by my fiance having been BFFs with one of the other couple first.

    • This is true and hilarious. I have totally been there and it gets so complicated. I’ve caught myself talking to a female half of a couple and stopping myself midsentence because I couldn’t remember if I was supposed to even know what I was about to say. And who wants to be the facilitator of another couple’s secret-keeping? It’s one of those things that could so easily come back to bite you in the end…

  8. You know, when I was single, I made friends. Period. It didn’t matter if they were single, one part of a couple or the complete couple. If I liked the person or people, then I/we’d figure out a way to be friends.

    For me, it has become a little more complicated in marriage. I’m still friends with some of my single friends, though a few of those friendships did fall by the wayside (it’s hard to be married with friends who ONLY do the crazy single’s scene). We’ve become friends with some (new) couples. But, the way I’m able to be friends with my besties has definitely changed. Less spontaneous time together and more understanding that the strength of the underlying friendship sometimes has to carry us through longer periods of time when we can’t get together.

  9. Anonymous

    Right before my boyfriend broke up with me I was searching for couple friends for us because I didn’t like his friends’ wives and my friends bored him. All we came across were couples who wanted “friends” and not friendships. Now that I am single I find it hard to make the friendships with my paired off friends work for various reasons including the fact that I don’t like to be the third wheel and they don’t want to do things conducive to me meeting new men because they are so settled in couple life that the single setting is not for them. It is hard. It is especially hard in the friendships where I am closer friends with the guy and the girl doesn’t necessary like me as much.

    • Anonymous

      * I should say that this wasn’t an issue when we were couple friends but now that I am single the girls seem to mind me being friends with their boyfriends/husbands.

    • Anonymous

      * I should say that there was never an issue when we were all friends as couples but now that I am single these girls are not as comfortable with me being better friends with their boyfriends/husbands.

      • This is so interesting. I think the issue of friendships between the coupled and single is wrought with conflict, for all the reasons you just described. Definitely worth a post (or two) in the future… And yes, I can imagine that when you were coupled you weren’t a threat, but that now that you’re single, the coupled girl might be none too pleased. Always drama when the cross-gender friendships come up.

  10. I laughed out loud at the Kimmy Gibbler reference. Loved that show.

    The whole couples thing makes me, well, crazy. It just seems like going out as a couple isn’t as satisfying as hanging out with your girlfriends. My husband has his friends and I have mine. I like most of my friends’ significant others, but I hate to drag my husband along just so we can be social together. Maybe we’ll be more of a social couple when we have kids. I’ve already told him that I want to go camping with other families and stuff like that, but for now, separate friends works fine for us. 🙂

  11. Pretty much ALL of my friends are married – at least, all of my college girlfriends. I have some acquaintances that are single, but my core group of friends are all married. So I am definitely the odd one out. BUT they are great about including me when they go out for dinner, etc, and don’t make me feel like I am not welcome just because I don’t have a +1 to bring along. I was worried that when they all paired off, I would lose them, but many of them were single well into their 20s so they get what it is like to be single, and I think that makes them more inclusive. Plus I really do love all of their husbands and consider them friends.

  12. Haha, Kimmy Gibbler! Love it. 🙂

    I’ve never been in a strong enough relationship to really have couple friends. I think it would be challenging if a conflict came up; is your loyalty to your significant other or to your friend? I’d be worried that if I said anything to one person, it would get back to the other people because of the close ties of the group. And really in a BFF-friendship, I want to feel comfortable saying a lot of things and knowing they will not be repeated. This all makes me think of the Friends episode, when Monica & Chandler meet another couple on the airplane and are really obsessed with getting together with them… 🙂

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