A funny thing happens when you become part of a couple: You start looking for like-minded pairs to spend time with. Rubbles to your Flintstones, or Mertzes to your Ricardos. Perhaps it's not surprising that couples seek out pairs they can hang out with; doing so helps validate you as a couple—your likes and dislikes, your goals and aims in life, says Camille Preston, PhD, psychologist and leadership coach. But one couple does not meet all needs (and some couples are not desirable to have in your address book). Says Dr. Preston, "you have to weed to feed"—or jettison relationships that aren't working to make room for more of the good kinds of friendships. Here, four couple types to seek out, and five to weed out.
1. The supportive pair
Is it too much to ask that you find a couple who'll celebrate your relationship? Certainly not, says Sally Connolly, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Louisville, Kentucky. In fact, having a pair in your corner who have a stake in the health and success of your marriage goes a long way toward keeping the two of you on track. "A couple who is positive about life, and marriage, are folks you can look up to," says Connolly. Who they might be: Family members; the couple who set you up on your first date; an older couple that live in your neighborhood.
2. The daring duo
How easy is it, when you're in a relationship, to just stay at home? But that can breed boredom, which can lead to marital discord—which is why having a couple on speed dial who push you to try new things can be a breath of fresh air. "You need a couple who'll call you and say, 'Let's go kayaking this weekend' or 'Let's try that new restaurant," says Connolly. Who they might be: Your intrepid best friend from college, whose husband you also love; work pals you met and clicked with.
3. The same-stagers
Knowing a couple who is in the same life stage as you are, or going through the same transitions as you are (newlyweds, new parents, empty-nesters), helps make you feel less alone and adrift as your life takes dramatic turns. "Their experience helps normalize yours," says Connolly. Who they might be: The couple next door who moved in at the same time as you; the pair you met when your kids started preschool.
4. The dear old pals
The couple who knew you way back when—who were fellow daters, say, or who were at your wedding—act as your historical touchstone. "They have memories of you as a couple when you first met, which gives them a stake in the success of your marriage," says Connolly. These are the pairs (or halves of pairs, sometimes) who can offer perspective when you're going through a rocky period in your marriage. Who they might be: Your maid of honor and her hubby, your sister and brother-in-law (or vice versa).