Meeting my fiance dramatically shifted my world.
The early months of our relationship were immersive. There was this unquenchable thirst for the other person. We were eager for all interactions as we tried to impress each other, presenting the best version of our own self-portrait.
Spending forty-five minutes on the train to see her didn’t bother me. Meeting up on a Tuesday night was just as exciting as a Friday. We wined and dined, sharing our favorite corners of the city while falling quickly and cautiously in love. Any past loneliness or quest for friendships was quickly pushed aside as I fell into the beautiful world of this other human.
And while the peripatetic energy of those early days eventually slowed to a more sustainable pace, the focus on and commitment to my person meant so much of that first year was spent building our world together. Mini-traditions, and micro-routines that became the landscape of our life.
The pendulum slowly swung back from seclusion to immersion as we introduced each other to our respective circles. The couplehood we were starting to build was now something we wanted to share with other couples. We were social as individuals. And now as partners, we wanted to be social together.
And largely we were and still are. We have occasionally had those frustrating days when we realize all of our friends are either busy or out of town. Living together in a new city, nearly all the friends we ever had are permanently out of town. And now in this wonderful city, with this beautiful apartment big enough to actually entertain we ask; how could we find other couples to be friends with?
If finding a friend for yourself is simple addition, couple friending is quantum physics. Jerry Seinfeld said it best. In order for two couples to get along, four different relationships need to work. It is not easy. Especially since, as a pair, there seems to be less occasion for the accidental interaction that results in the fortuitous friendship. Being a part of a couple means being part of a unit with its own rules, practices, and desires. Intentionally or not we fall into routines and ruts. We have less impetus to pursue new experiences that could otherwise upset the balance we have created in our partnership.
There is nobody I would rather spend time with than my fiance, so I get it.
We love our time together and are vocal about how grateful we are to have each other. It is something we work very hard not to take for granted. But it was clear from the very beginning that for as much as we loved each other, we never wanted our relationship to be our sole source of fulfillment. We valued each other’s independence.
Understanding both sides of it makes me wonder what other couples think. If they wish for more friends or feel perfectly happy with what they have. I find myself paying attention to them in public, specifically bars, watching the way they interact with each other and the people around them. Making up stories in my mind as to who they are. The way they hold hands at the table or don’t. How much time they spend on their phones simultaneously.
It is easy, as a couple, to operate buttressed against the world. Impervious to the intrusion of others. As an individual or a couple, it can be challenging to form a simple connection with a stranger, never mind find a way in. Some couples have no interest in socializing with people they don’t know. I can’t help but wonder why they wouldn’t be interested in meeting somebody new.
Maybe they think we’re swingers. Or missionaries trying to convert them. Because I think on some level we are all a little skeptical about anybody who expresses interest in us. What do they want? Being in a relationship long enough you become comfortable with the debrief at the end of the night. The one that ping pongs the same questions back and forth.
Would you hang out with them again? What did you think of her? What about him?
It is overwhelming when you think about the where, the how, and the who. Even more so when I consider that every couple my fiance and I are friends with, was connected to one of us before we met. Single seeds that sprouted over time.
Actively committing to finding friends feels a lot like team dating. There are many of the same feelings of excitement, curiosity, and hesitation. The conversations we once had in our heads or with our friends we can now have together. Should we call them? Invite them over for dinner? We haven’t heard back from them, should we reach out again?
Thinking too much about it is definitely maddening. It is possible to both be with somebody you love and feel lonely at the same time. And it is easy to perseverate, to ask the same question over and over again. Are the friends we have now the only friends we will ever have? It is often when we don’t have something that we wonder how we ever did.
It is uncharted territory for us as a couple; this building a life together in a strange new place. And as much as we’d like to, we can’t do everything together. I have known for quite some time I wanted more community for myself in every aspect of my life. That also means among a community of like-minded men. And, as I have always been somebody who worried about the number of male friends in my life, I have also re-tasked myself with finding more male friends.
Guess how well that is going?
To be continued…
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