Fred & Wilma had Barney & Betty.
George & Amal found Cindy & Rande.
William & Kate finally have Harry & Meghan.
Who doesn’t love a good couple friend? Whether you’re seeing a fun concert together, enjoying dinner and drinks sans kids or getting together for a weekend family playdate, having a Monica and Chandler to your Ross and Rachel comes with a host of perks. Some of them are similar to the benefits conveyed by friendship in general — laughter, lower blood pressure … increased longevity, even.
But experts say that couple friends bring their own unique advantages. A few reasons these friends are so great:
They break up married monotony.
If Monday through Friday feels like a never-ending loop of getting the kids ready for school, heading to work, barely surviving the chaos of bedtime and then falling onto the couch with your partner somewhere in the near vicinity, a Saturday night double date can be just what the relationship doctor ordered.
“The wonderful advantage of having good couple friends is that you and your partner are not only having fun with another couple, but with each other,” says Geoffrey L. Greif, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work and the coauthor of Two Plus Two: Couples and Their Couple Friendships. Sitting next to your SO as he or she speaks passionately about a certain topic or tells a funny story (even if you’ve heard it a zillion times) lets you see him or her as others do, which can feel refreshing after being together for X number of years.
You get to talk about grownup things.
One of the motivations for Erika Cohen, 40, and her husband to go out every Saturday night with other couples is that, “it’s sometimes our only opportunity to connect with friends and really talk. We have 4-year-old twins, and with small children around, no real conversations are normally being had at dinner.”
This adult, real-world convo taking place among couple friends is a boon for your own connection with your partner, says friendship expert and sociologist Jan Yager, author of Friendshifts: The Power of Friendship and How It Shapes Our Lives. “It adds variety to your relationship, exposes you to new ideas and lets you share in a different perspective.”
Still, one topic to steer clear of: politics.
“Avoid politics or other controversial ideas,” Yager suggests. “It can quickly sink what could have been a fun get-together.”
It might spice up your sex life.
No, not that way.
Greif says research shows that couples are more attracted to one another when they’re out with a fellow couple, compared with hanging out one on one.
Adds relationship expert and psychotherapist Wendy Walsh: “Something happens when we leave our intimate (be it cozy or bickering) selves and don a public personality. Before a dinner table audience of another couple, spouses are suddenly on their best behavior — not unlike a first date.” In this way, she says, your mate’s “performance” reminds you of the person you once fell in love with. “It can be a turn-on.”
Now that you’re psyched up to find the perfect double-dating duo, it’s time to get couplin’. A few strategies and tips from veteran double daters (myself included):
Find a common bond. Personally, I’ve met friends through work and at the gym, some of which have graduated to longtime couple-friend status. I suss out my friend’s spouse in advance to make sure I think our partners will not only have enough in common, but that their personalities will fit. (The former doesn’t always dictate the latter.) For women with children, little ones can be a great unifying factor, too. “It’s easier to make mom friends, because you’re at the park and your kids kind of force you into conversation,” says Tiffany S., 39, one-half of one of my favorite couple friends. (Yes, we met under a slide.)
Swipe right. On Kupple.com, you can search for couples nearby who want to hang. (It’s not a swinging site.) Bios let you know what they’re looking for — some child-free duos want to find friends like them; some couples are new to town with young kids and eager for family buddies. Meetup.com also has multiple Family Meetup groups, organizing everything from Couples Night Out to family park rendezvous.
It’s OK if it’s a bust. Just because you adore your friend doesn’t mean your partners will gel. “There doesn’t always need to be an amazing four-way connection where you’re all ready to take a 10-day trip together,” Yager notes. “If you enjoy each other’s company, great. But if the chemistry isn’t there,” you can continue spending time with your friend solo.
Everyone needs a girlfriend!
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