Curmudgeons Say: Joint Friends Are A Waste Of Time


This Salon writer and his girlfriend can’t make any couple friends. For some reason, they see this as a problem!

After moving to a new city, the author, Ryan Blitstein, and his girlfriend, who both work from home, have a hard time meeting friends.

So my girlfriend and I have embarked on a process akin to a platonic version of dating. Parties, for us, resemble nothing so much as speed-dating events. We search for friends of either sex, sending garbled nonverbal signals back and forth, waiting to gush about our new same-sex and opposite-sex crushes on the train ride home. I search for wedding rings on the fingers of women I like — not because I’m hoping they’re single, but because I’m hoping they’re not, and that maybe their husbands will be willing to double date.

Blitstein’s essay is about the larger challenges of making a meaningful connection in a world where superficial friendship comes cheap. But he touches on something particularly challenging: couple friendship. Because however hard it might be to form a connection between two people, four is that much harder. Maybe you have a friend and envision cute double-dates and grown-up group friendships like all our parents seem to have. But one of them is a weak link, or the chemistry’s not there, or the girlfriend is so much less awesome than you were led to believe and why didn’t he notice that, and why is my boyfriend being such a dick other people do this how hard can it be it’s really hard I’m a terrible adult and why don’t you make an effort, cue fighting.

Actually, I come from a family where one party’s sociable and the other – my mom – genuinely does think hell is other people. She’s perfectly content with a couple of friends in other states, and to let my father go out to dinners and plays, as long as she’s not required to go. Maybe a bad template to grow up with, but not one that fosters codependence. It’s probably because of this, but reading Blitstein’s essay, which is thoughtful and well-written, I found myself thinking uncharitably that maybe if they broke out on their own, with fewer joint parties and “activity groups,” the friend search would go a little faster. Even if Blitstein and his lady friend are considerably nicer and less judgmental people than I, which they almost certainly are, insisting on friends by committee seems like a dicey proposition. We all have the occasional friend who’s joined at the hip to a boyfriend – surprise! Jake’s going to come see Shopaholic too! – and it’s awful, especially because you know they think they’re a better couple for it and silently pity you for your independence. I, on the other hand, am the antisocial girlfriend who never shows up anywhere; people have about stopped asking.

I hope the author and his girlfriend find a nice group of other couples to hang out with, I really do, and that they go on vacations together and have game nights and dinner parties and all that awesome, adult stuff that pricklier infants are not suited to. Some of us have solo dance parties to attend now.
Couple seeking couple for good time [Salon]

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