As a married man, I can tell you there’s little rarer or more valuable than finding a good couple-friend fit. Given that you spend most of your social time with your wife, much of the social time you spend with your friends is with their wives. Obviously, the more everybody gets along, the better. I’m not talking about being civil…I mean really enjoying hanging out with each other. But how can you tell if another couple is a good friendship fit?
In my experience, it boils down to the number of one-on-one combinations that work. How many combinations of two people work, if they end up stuck together in the course of hanging out? This is different than group dynamics. As long as everybody is willing to do their part, a conversation between four people over dinner or drinks is easy to facilitate. It’s much like basketball…the team can have weaknesses as long as the ball is distributed correctly. But if a couple-friendship is going to flourish, you have to be able to hang out in different permutations.
Imagine this scenario: you and your spouse rent a vacation home with another couple. One half of the other couple has to go to Starbucks to use the Wi-Fi for work stuff; your spouse is going out for lunch with a high school friend that lives in the area. You’re left in the house all day with the other member of the couple. Do you think: A) Why the fuck am I stuck with him/her all day?; B) I’ll just grab a book and sit on the beach and wait it out; C) No Problem. Give Answer C 1 pt., Answer B 1/2 pt., Answer A 0 pts. Run this scenario for every possible combination…the lowest score that would be given by a member of the combination wins…i.e. if you answer C and your friend’s wife answers A, that’s no points (sorry).
4 Points: All possible combinations work. A shutout. Don’t get overly drunk and fuck it up.
3 Points: Workable, as long as everybody does their best to avoid the weak combination.
2 Points: This is where it starts to get difficult. The only way this works is if the two combinations that work are same-sex. If you hate your buddy’s wife, and your wife always found your buddy annoying but finds his wife adorable, you can just play by Country Club rules and be alright. If either of the workable combinations is inter-gender, it’s nearly impossible to pull off.
1 Point: This basically means that you and your buddy are the only people in the group that like each other. Totally untenable, unless you both really enjoy angry glares across the dinner table and arguments when you retire to your room for the evening. If your buddy doesn’t live in the same town, it’s time to say goodbye.
0 Points: What are you, a masochist?
Note: There’re actually two other possible combinations of two people…the actual couples themselves. However, if the answer to these combinations isn’t a solid C, all bets are off. Just write off the deposit you put down on the vacation home…hanging out with a couple that doesn’t like each other anymore is nothing but a nightmare…unless, of course, you’re not that happy yourself and see an opening to make a move on your buddy’s wife, who you’ve been in love with secretly for years.