When you're in a relationship, hanging with another couple can feel, well, special. You get to do all the low-key things you normally do as a couple but with two extra, awesome people. You can have movie nights or grab drinks, trade stories about your relationships, or be touchy and huggy without making your single buds feel (rightfully) awkward. In other words, double dates rock.
But finding another couple that perfectly vibes with both you and your mate can be a challenge. Especially as you and your friends get older, move to new cities, or grow more invested in your careers and home lives, one might wonder: how the hell DO we make couple friends?
Follow these five steps and you'll have your go-to Friday night crew in no time:
1. Be joiners.
If there isn't a couple already in your orbit that fits the bill, you might need to—gasp—extend your social network. "Be joiners," says Dr. Irene S. Levine, PhD, psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. "If you move, use your 'newness' to your advantage. Find out whether there is a 'New Neighbor' or dine-around club or such; many neighborhoods have them."
But if you've lived in the same place for a while and simply feel like you want a bigger friend circle, the best thing to do is sign up for activities you already love doing. Go to a Meetup event, or an organized hike, or individually join groups where you can meet new people. Even if you don't meet other couples through these activities, you're bound to meet SOME new friends who inherently like the same things you do.
2. Make individual friends instead of focusing on couples.
Even if your hope is to find your couple counterpart, you should still get to know people independent of their relationship. If you love your new bud, chances are bae will, too. "Making friends as a couple is always more challenging because four personalities need to mesh instead of two," Levine says. "[It] might be more viable to make friends as an individual first and then see if it can be expanded to work as a couple."
Plus, it's much easier to become close with someone and then bring your partners into the fold once you two already have a rapport. Just think: The ice is already half broken!
3. Do a bunch of low-stakes hangouts first.
Sure, maybe one day you guys will all go on an envy-inducing trip together (um, hi Chrissy and John's double-date vacay) but come on, you gotta work up to that. "My recommendation would be to grab a drink first and gradually increase the amount of time you spend together," Levine says. "A day trip is a big commitment of time and emotions."
Go to a bar or dinner and take it slow like you probably would with, well, a real date.
4. Don't force an immediate connection right away.
A 2018 study shows that it takes roughly 90 hours with someone to become casual friends and over 200 to become actual BFFs (granted, of course, that you click to begin with). All the more reason to not put pressure on connecting perfectly the first few times you meet up.
"Over time, you should slowly feel more comfortable," Levine says. "It should feel more relaxed rather than more tense. Conversation should come easier. If it is going in the opposite direction, you may want to lower your expectations."
And if you've tried a few times but just can't seem to slip into an easy, fun convo without scrambling to ask them questions, you might just not work as a group! Brush it off and move on.
5. Be understanding when people fade out.
As you grow up, it gets harder and harder to stay in touch with close pals. If you feel like you're often the one to reach out first, try to keep in mind just how busy other peoples' schedules can get.
"People's lives aren't always in sync; some have more responsibilities at home or at the office," Levine says. "Others have a wider social circle and less time for individual couples; others may need downtime for themselves. Try to strike a balance between showing interest in getting together and respecting the needs of others."
That being said, if you're always the only ones reaching out with an invitation, just go back to step one and keep meeting new people—it never hurts!
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