By Katie Parsons for GalTime.com
People in long-term relationships know that it's fun and important to have date nights, but recent research emphasizes the benefits of double dating, too. A study presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference revealed that couples who received validation from another couple, either while on a double date or in another social setting, felt greater passion towards each other after the group outing.
So if you're looking to change up your date night routine, or add a dash of excitement to your love life, hanging out with other monogamous couples can be just what you need. Here are just a few reasons why cultivating these friendships can work for your relationship, and some tips on how to make these connections.
1. It increases your attraction to one another.
A romantic date is usually considered the gold standard for keeping a relationship kindled, but going out with another couple or two can actually heighten your attraction to your spouse even more.
"Research has found that couples are more attracted to each other when they're out on a date with another couple, instead of a romantic one between just the two of them," says relationship expert Dr. Wendy Walsh, author of The 30-Day Love Detox. "It's sexy to see your significant other in his or her public persona, and watch that male-male and female-female competition."
The conversation tends to be more exciting too. Couples work harder to be interesting when there's another couple to impress. "When other people are there, you won't talk about the kids or bills," says Dr. Wendy.
2. It creates a support system.
A long-term relationship can feel isolating at times, especially when those times are a bit rocky. Forging friendships with other committed couples can create a support system of like-minded people.
"You need to have people around who understand what you're going through, and you won't find that hanging out with single people," explains Dr. Wendy. "Long-term monogamy has its ups and downs. You need support from other people who have been through tough times and come out ahead."
3. Overlapping friends protect your relationship.
Dr. Wendy believes that the over-sexualized media and heightened opportunity for infidelity through technology have combined to rage a "war against monogamy." While it's inevitable to have some individual friends and acquaintances, it's healthy to have friends who overlap too.
"It is absolutely okay to have shared friends and to know the same people," advises Dr. Wendy. "Sexual restraint has gone down and opportunity has gone up -- so I encourage couples to know each other's friends."
So how are couple friends made?
When making the first move to ask a couple to go out with you, Dr. Wendy suggests:
- Start at work. It's usually pretty easy to figure out which co-workers are also married, so that's a good place to make couple plans. The co-workers get a chance to build an out-of-office bond and the spouses may find a fun connection too.
- Pick the right activity. For the first double date, choose an activity that keeps everyone busy, but allows some time for conversation. A movie might not be a great first outing as couples, and going out to dinner could put too much pressure on the conversation. Pick a sporting event or do something active, like miniature golfing or bowling.
- Plan large group activities. To relieve some of the pressure, invite several couple friends over for a dinner party or organize a group outing to a concert or local festival. It expands your network of couple friends more quickly and connects others who may not know each other any other way.
- Compromise. While one half of each couple may get along fabulously, the other two may not have a true connection. It happens -- but that's no reason to tell a spouse to just go out without you.
"Long-term monogamy is all about compromise, so go along even if the other person wouldn't normally be a person you'd pick as a friend," suggests Dr. Wendy. "It's still better than sending him or her without you."
Remember that any time set aside to be together is time well spent -- so try to mix it up with some romantic and group activities.
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