A double date isn’t just a way to sneak in Friday night face time with your BFF—it could also boost the bond between you and your guy, according to new research from Wayne State University.
Couples who talked about embarrassing moments, asked advice on personal problems, or engaged in other “high self-disclosure interactions” reported greater feelings of passionate love than those who kept it to small talk in the study of 150 pairs.
“Although we still need to investigate why responsiveness from other couples predicts increases in passionate love, one possibility is that having another couple respond positively to yourself and your partner may provide you with a fresh, positive view of your partner and relationship,” Keith Welker, doctoral student at Wayne State University and co-author of the study, said in statement.
To get more than just a night out and maybe a few laughs from your next double date, keep five things in mind.
1. Choose the Right Couple
You and your girl have a billion things to catch up on, but if her husband and your boyfriend spend most of the evening smiling stiffly at each other, it may be better to spend solo time with her and find another duo to double-up with, says psychotherapist Julie Hanks, owner and executive director at Wasatch Family Therapy in Orem, UT. It may feel awkward and like dating all over again, but all four of you need to click, so propose a happy hour with the couple you meet at a party, see around the neighborhood, or know through your running group. You can even try online dating: Websites like hangbase.com let you browse other couples looking to make new friends.
2. Go Beyond Drinks and Dinner
A night out at the bar around the corner is fine, but outside-the-box activities can make bonding easier. "Getting outside your comfort zones gives your conversations the opportunity to go beyond the usual ‘how was your week’ interaction,” says Amy Van Doran, a relationship expert and New York City-based matchmaker. Take a daylong hiking trip, go on a wine tour, or rent a cabin together for a long weekend—more time together also means more opportunities for personal topics to come up, Van Doran explains.
3. Resist the Urge to Gossip
When you’re thisclose with a couple, it’s can be easy to share secrets with just one member—but that can be a slippery slope, Hanks warns. If you’re having issues with your guy, the feedback you get from a friend who doesn’t spend a ton of time socializing with both of you may be less biased—and your chat is less likely to come back to haunt you in the future.
4. Have a Few Circles
Just as your bestie isn’t your entire social life, you shouldn’t hang out exclusively with one couple, Hanks says. One couple can be awesome travel buddies, another can give great heart-to-hearts over backyard beers, others may share your passion for salsa dancing—and all of that’s cool.
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5. Be Inspired
You want a couple you can talk about real issues with, but the last thing you need is a pair who makes you think but leaves both of you in a bad mood, Van Doran says. “If the couple has a bad or dysfunctional relationship, that could end up influencing your own patterns.” Nobody’s completely issue-free, but if your boyfriend’s childhood buddy always argues with his wife, let the guys hang out one-on-one.