My husband was a year ahead of me in college, and when we first met, we hardly knew each other’s friends. But as our relationship deepened after we started dating, my husband’s friends quickly adopted me into their group and he made the effort to get to know my good friends too. We soon discovered that making a make a conscious effort to familiarize ourselves with each other’s friends—especially to the point of having good friends in common—had a huge impact on the quality of our relationship.
1. You don’t spend all your time alone together.
Sure, you may want to spend every waking moment with your boyfriend or girlfriend, but you don’t want to drive others away by obsessing over each other, Edward-and-Bella-style. Your relationship with this person should enhance—rather than detract from—your other relationships. By surrounding yourselves with a group of mutual friends, you’ll find that your experiences, conversations, and empathies are wider (and deeper!) than if you mainly talked to or thought about just one other person.
2. You get to see how your boyfriend or girlfriend interacts with others.
If you think that the person you’re with might even possibly be someone you would consider marrying, then this is key. Does your boyfriend turn on the crude jokes the moment he walks into a room of male peers? Does your girlfriend have a habit of holding grudges with her close friends? Observing the way your significant other acts in a group will help you to see more of who he or she really is. One of the things I love most about my husband is how kind and respectful he is to women in general—and I first saw that in how he treated my girlfriends while he and I were dating.
3. You’re held accountable for the way you treat your significant other.
This one is closely related to #2, and it’s equally as important. Sometimes all it takes is the presence of our friends to remind us that the way we act toward a boyfriend or girlfriend has a powerful impact on that person—and us. If you’ve surrounded yourself with friends who make you want to be better—kinder, more thoughtful, more human—then those friends will also make you want to be a better girlfriend or boyfriend. And your significant other will definitely appreciate that fact.
4. You can ask for honest, unbiased relationship advice since your friends know—and care about—both of you.
When you occasionally hit a snag in your relationship and consult your mutual friends, it’s less likely that there will be an “us vs. them” mentality. Your friends will be able to listen to your thoughts while helping you to see the situation from your girlfriend or boyfriend’s point of view. Whether they agree or disagree with your side of things, they’ll tell you truthfully. Such a healthy dose of honesty can lead to more understanding—and less heartache—in the long run.
So, do you and your boyfriend or girlfriend have friends in common? If not, it might be time to bridge the gap and start enjoying the perks of having “couple friends.”