Sour Grapes – The Nine Types of Couples You Lost Your Friend To (And What to Do Now)

Sour Grapes - The Nine Types of Couples You Lost Your Friend To (And What to Do Now)

Images: Nate McDonough/

Everyone you know and like is married / moved in with their significant other. What now?

The odds of your friend’s partner being as cool as they are seem kinda slim. Out of the thousands of people you’ve met in life, there’s a minute fraction of a percentage you’re ready to call friend. The best case scenario seems to be that your friends find someone who you get along and has good jokes. That shit is RARE.

I remember the pathetically excessive amount of energy I put into getting a girlfriend when I was younger. After a while it started to seem like dating someone and being single are both nice enough. The sum pros and cons of each, though different seem equivalent. I turned 29 a week ago. Since middle school, the energy I put into convincing girls to date me just ebbed away. Now that energy goes into woo-ing my old friends into hanging out with me. Different situations require different approaches. Though I imagine there’s plenty of overlap between them, here are my ten archetypes and maybe a suggestion on how to see that old pal of yours again.

1. A couple including that friend who was flakey to begin with

You may never see this friend again.

2. Couples that go running together

Who are these people? Do you know them?

Awkward, silent, and dead-eyed couple sharing a booth

3. Codependent couples

You don’t know why you asked to hang out with them. You knew they were bringing their partner. Still you called and texted and messaged them until they twisted their respective keys and hit their respective launch from isolation buttons at the same time. What to do? Sometimes moving in with the right person can give a mostly miserable person a sustained happiness, but it often seems to go the opposite way.

They abandoned their autonomy a piece at a time and are no longer capable of acting spontaneously or sincerely. They’re wary and nervous. Jokes get a tight lipped smile unless they happen to hear their partner laugh. Even the smallest most inconsequential decisions and opinions that you never imagined a person seeking a consensus with another for gets the ‘Is that okay what they said just now?’ glance to the side before any reply can be offered.

This is the scariest thing in the world and I literally flee when I witness it.

4. Self-confidence crushed by partner

The dead giveaway here is apologies. “I’m sorry for that annoying thing I do.” “I’m sorry you had a bad day.” “I’m sorry for all things beyond my control that bother you . . . in our home, the city, the country, the realm of international affairs.” “I’m sorry the rain is wet and the sun is hot.” I’m convinced that the people who subject themselves to this, somewhere deep down, crave it. I have difficulty pitying them.

A dejected-looking young man glances down with a somber expression while his partner's outstretched hands points at him in an explanatory manner.

5. Lots of rules couples

Probably A LOT of overlap with number four. My toes instantly curl when I hear the phrase “boy’s night out”. I’m sure it’s not always the case but whenever some mention of how unusual it is to see so-and-so spending time with a friend is made—no matter how innocuous it may have seemed at the time—I’m thinking about what sort of gauntlet of contrition my friend will have to crawl through upon returning home.

6. Netflix relationship

The garden variety terrible relationship. If you’d still like to see your friend, just give them a couple weeks’ notice and they’ll probably fit you in between the completion of one streaming series and the beginning of another.

7. Couples who only hang out with couples

Such a weird combination of feeling flattered and insulted here. I’m so flattered to have someone try and set me up with someone, but I get the distinct impression that if I don’t really put the charm on for your co-worker (who seems so nervous she’s about to cry) that you won’t be inviting me over again. That’s okay.

A girlfriend frantically tries to explain something to her boyfriend, who has placed his hand on her shoulder. His face has the expression of, "it's okay, just don't let it happen again. Also, I will probably hold this over you for two-and-a-half months."

8. Obviously fucking miserable couples

I like to think I’m being selfless when I’m listening to a friend ceaselessly complain about their partner, but if we’re being honest misery probably just loves company. “That’s terrible! You shouldn’t have to put up with that! Let’s go watch The Raid: Redemption, play chess and listen to Liquid Swords! Come to Jesus!”

9. Actually happy couples

Trying to hang out with your friends who actually still like one another? Good luck! You can count on being invited to the occasional something or another the two of them host but don’t hope for much beyond that. What to do? Not much outside of ‘just be happy for em’. If two people are happy by my cruel and probably hugely unfair standard then I’ll make no attempt to meddle or interfere. It’s kind of hard to replace thoughts of ‘look how precious they are, I think I’m gonna fucking puke’ with ‘good for them!’ but it’s probably the only way to go.

Couples! If you can’t beat ‘em, no need to join ‘em. I highly recommend moving in with ‘em. Hi Laura! Hi Tyler! (Please don’t send me out into the darkness and cold). You guys are the best!

A couple is jogging together. Dear god, why?

Author: Nate McDonough

Nate McDonough lives in Pittsburgh with his two cats, girlfriend, fiance, wife, mistress, boyfriend, husband, iguana and his 55 children. More of his work can be found at

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