There’s nothing quite like a good friend… unless it’s two good friends who you and bae can enjoy together. The idea of “couple friends” is a gift to hopeless romantics and serial monogamists everywhere. Only within this very specific arrangement can you so easily — and equitably! — socialize alongside your significant other. There are no worries about leaving your S.O. at home or leaving them out of an inside joke. There are no anxieties about damaging your social life in favor of a romantic relationship that has your head feeling a little fuzzy. Among couple pals, your friendships can coexist with your partnerships. You can simultaneously play the roles of amazing friend and one-in-a-million significant other. Here, at least, you can have it all. Up with couple friends!

While forming these friendships can be a saving grace in your relationship with your S.O. (say goodbye to the constant tension between bae and BFF), they aren’t without their challenges. In some ways, couple friendships are kind of like the two-headed monsters of the friend world — fight with your friends and create tension with bae, hit a stumbling block at home and struggle to get back on track with your pals. What’s a girl (and her partner) to do? We feel pretty strongly that couple friends are a healthy and important part of your love life, so we’ve put together a few tips to help keep you on track as you build and maintain these relationships.

Two couples take a walk on the beach

1. Seek friendships with other couples from a place of equal footing. Ideally, bae will hit it off easily with your BFF’s partner — but bringing your significant other into a preexisting friendship of yours and hoping for the best isn’t exactly what we’re talking about when we talk about real couple friends. Your best chances for success come with befriending couples who are new-ish to both of you. You and your significant other will be able to connect more naturally to the other couple in this situation, and it will minimize any unnecessary tensions or weird power dynamics.

2. If you are bringing your partner into a friendship with one of your friends and their S.O., be patient and have reasonable expectations. You and your BFF may have everything in common, but that doesn’t mean that your significant others will share a similar connection. Resist the urge to play matchmaker between your bae and your bestie’s. If the bond doesn’t happen naturally, that’s okay! A stronger friendship may build over time — and even if it doesn’t, you and your other half (we mean your best friend, natch) will still have each other. If anything, all of the relationships involved will be healthier because no one was forced into best friend status.

3. Be consistent. Like all friendships, couple friendships require regular TLC. Coordinating schedules may be more challenging with four people than two, but don’t give up at the first sign of (calendar) conflict. You’ll likely “grab drinks” with dozens of couples, but it’s the pairs you consistently meet for movie nights, takeout feasts, and board game marathons that will move firmly into the “couple friend” zone — and that‘s a friend zone we’d like to be in.

4. Keep the drama to the barest minimum. There’s room for stress and tension in any relationship, but introduce two more people to the mix, and you’re potentially doubling the drama. Set ground rules within the friendship to steer clear of these problems. You and your S.O. shouldn’t be talking smack about your shared friends, and you shouldn’t air your dirty relationship laundry to the parties involved in your joint friendship. Find other outlets for any frustrations you may experience within this arrangement specifically. Things will be a lot less messy that way!

Two couples spend time together at home

5. Don’t get caught up in the other couple’s business. Your friends are fighting on the reg about when they’ll get engaged, and suddenly you’re wondering why you haven’t turned up the pressure on your partner popping the question. Your friends are getting a dog, and suddenly you think it’s time to start researching pups in spite of your significant other’s anti-pet stance. As your couple friendship grows (dare we say you’re becoming best couple friends?), it may feel natural for you and your S.O. to get more involved with what your friends are experiencing, but we urge you to be mindful of this. Don’t allow your pals to accidentally project their challenges or tensions onto your relationship, and do not, do not, DO NOT get competitive with your friends.

6. Prioritize the one-on-one relationship. Double dates with your couple friends shouldn’t be the only time you and your S.O. dress up and hit the town. We’re super happy to hear that you’re loving your new pals, but if you don’t tend to your primary partnership, the whole point of having couple friends is basically moot. It’s also important to continue prioritizing friendships with your single pals, as well as the friends whose partners didn’t quite click with yours. Keep all of your friendship muscles working for the happiest, healthiest you.

7. Don’t be afraid to learn from your couple friends. One of the greatest benefits to befriending other couples is the opportunity to learn from the strengths and weaknesses of their relationship. Be open to adapting elements of their routine and rapport into your own life. It may even bring you all closer together!

8. Know when it’s time to grow apart. If your couple friends are working through a long bout of drama that’s damaging your own relationship, or if they’ve moved into a stage of life that’s entirely different from where you and your partner are, it’s perfectly acceptable to make some room for all parties to get some emotional air. You can continue to support each other and be friendly without being CBFF (couple best friends forever, duh).

How do you maintain your “couple friendships?” Tweet us suggestions @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)