The awkward business of making couple friends

Aug 3, 2016 at 8:00 a.m. ET
Image: FangXiaNuo/Getty Images

Years ago, before my husband and I got married, we both had our respective friend groups firmly established. I had my wine nights with gal pals and he had logged hours of cornhole alongside his best buds. But stage three of romantic relationships requires an initial hangout with trusted besties to make sure you're not accidentally dating a weirdo (because it happens). Over time, my husband and I crossed bro-borders and grew to love each other's friends.

But because most our friends are single, and very few people enjoy being a third wheel (not that my husband and I spend much time in swan-shaped boats reciting poetry to each other), double-date partners are scarce.

A while back, to lock down some couple friends, my husband and I had the brilliant idea of setting up our respective best friends with each other. Surprisingly, the pair hit it off and double dates became a weekly event packed with whiskey nights and pancake brunches. It was constant fun... until it wasn’t.

More: My first love is a groomsman in my wedding because life is funny like that

An argument between the two involving strip clubs and Mexico ensued, causing a very real split, which put an end to our fearsome foursome. Looking back, our two friends weren’t right for each other but selfishly, I wanted them to fall in love and grow old together so I’d have an elderly couple to hang with when I go gray.

Although relationships with couples still feel like finding a diamond in a dumpster, we've managed to land one pair since. And it all began with an interview.

When I was first starting my writing career, I wrote wedding stories for the local newspaper. I’d meet up with couples and ask how they fell in love, got engaged and made their way to the altar. I interviewed couples that met on Match, in middle school and in dive bars. There were the couples who could tell me very clearly why they loved each other and then other couples who I soon learned had filed divorce papers. But out of the dozens of interviews I did, there was something special about meeting Cody and Geraldine.

She was a French student studying law and he worked for a famous sports team. Because I wanted the interviews to be relaxed, I asked my husband to tag along to the Chinese restaurant we had chosen for the meeting. I have to say, I was mildly intimidated by their incredible love story (they met in Spain!) and remember laughing more than taking notes.

After the interview, my husband and I drove home and couldn’t stop talking about how much fun we had. We plotted about how we were going to hang out with Cody and Geraldine again. Wanting to play it cool, we decided to wait a few days before texting and eventually asked them to meet us for drinks.

Since that time, the four of us have had game nights and beach days. We’ve gone on ski trips to Mammoth Mountain and relaxing vacations to San Diego. It seemed to work because we got to know Cody and Geraldine together, so the relationships developed at the same pace. Without the unequal divide of friendship between the four of us, the rapport actually came quite easily.

Still, other than Cody and Geraldine, our list of couple friends is very limited. We’ve tried to match up with other twosomes, but the group chemistry always feels off.

On one occasion, a pair of would-be couple friends got into a major fight in front of us while we were out at a gastropub sipping overpriced cocktails. To be clear, my husband and I fight from time to time and we're not always incredibly tactful about where and how, but this couple spent the entire dinner in silence. We all stared down at the artichoke dip in front of us while my husband and I tried to think of anything — anything — to talk about. Which of course, led to even more awkward tension.

More: I used a friendship app to find a new friend and would do it again in a heartbeat

A few months after that, another couple invited my husband and me on their yacht to tour the harbor during Labor Day weekend. We were excited to spend time with the couple aboard a fancy boat (because God knows we can't afford one). Upon arrival, we saw the three-level yacht sparkling in the distance only to realize it was full of people.

Both of their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were aboard. For some unknown reason, we were invited to crash a family reunion. Because they had already spotted us (making a quick exit impossible), we hopped on board and spent the entire time talking to the random kids and family members as they walked passed us. I'm assuming they thought we were long lost cousins or something.

Despite our painfully uncomfortable encounters with couple friends, I still think we'll eventually click with more pairs. In the meantime, I’m holding out for my BFF to find the friend of my dreams so my husband and I have another pair to play bingo with in our future retirement community.