It’s a rare and special thing when you and your partner hit it off with a new couple and want to hang out. But what if you start to find your best friend’s husband a little too fascinating, or your husband hits if off that bit too well with your girlfriend? How do you know when the couple crush has become a threat?
It can happen anywhere. Let’s say your colleague’s invited you for dinner. You’re not really looking forward to it and your husband’s made you promise you’ll have him home in time for Match of the Day. The hosts introduce you to some other guests – Matt and Freya. They seem nice enough. Freya’s got great dress sense. Matt makes you laugh. And you’re pleased when you all turn out to be sitting together at one end of the table, far away from the hedge fund manager and the vegan lifestyle blogger.
And then it happens. The world falls away. You don’t notice what you’re eating any more, or what anyone else at the table is talking about because the four of you are just vibing off each other. It isn’t just a girl thing – although you and Freya are like sisters from another mister – the boys are getting along like a house on fire too, which isn’t surprising because Matt is just hilarious. The way he teases you about leaving your green peppers in a little pile on the side of the plate… hysterical. Matt likes football. Freya’s a massive Bjork fan. They both like the revamped Twin Peaks. The synergies are downright spooky. It’s your husband who insists on getting their numbers at the end of the evening, that’s how big this is.
Before too long, Matt and Freya are a fixture. You’re getting together most weekends – sometimes you cook, sometimes they cook, sometimes you just slum it with a takeaway and download a film, because that’s the beauty of this friendship. It’s effortless. You can be yourselves. You completely get each other. You get Matt. You definitely get Matt. You find yourself daydreaming about Matt. What if something happened to Freya – nothing awful, not a disease or anything. Just a posting overseas, say; timed to coincide with the conference your husband attends every year in Harrogate. Wouldn’t it be the most natural thing in the world to invite Matt over? Just to keep each other company, you understand.
Then again you might need to keep an eye on Freya. Your husband told her he was thinking of re-fitting his study and she was in there like a rat up a drainpipe. Task chairs, sit-stand desks, optimum screen elevation. But she’s an interior designer, not an ergonomist – you know that because you helped her rewrite her CV. She’s qualified to choose the colour of the carpet, and that’s about it. No, it’s perfectly, embarrassingly obvious that the reason she’s so keen to get involved is because she’s got a … uh-oh.
And there you have it. The dilemma. Must we all stay in our hermetically-sealed units of two? Can’t we, in the twenty-first century, allow ourselves the luxury of free-flowing, spontaneous friendships with amazing people, irrespective of their gender, or the fact that they are, to use a hideously nineteenth century phrase, ‘spoken for’? It’s a moot point. We don’t see as much of Matt and Freya these days. It sort of fizzled out. But we’ve met this new couple…