You Need Help: How Do I Ask My Couple Friends To Hang Out With Me One-on-One?

Q:

I feel a little insecure asking but how do I communicate to my friends who are in relationships, that I would like to hang out with each of them separately?

I’m friends with both or all people in the relationships and they’re all great but sometimes i just want to hang out 1on1. I’ve had a few instances where I thought we were planning a 1on1 hang and then their partner(s) were in the car when they picked me up!

Nearly all of my good friends are in relationships and I’m still healing from a bad break up so that’s part of it. Should I share this with them? They already know! I don’t know what to do!

I’m looking for a script that is loving yet assertive.

A:

I have a very strong feeling that your friends have no idea that this is something you desire, because it is an entirely reasonable request! Sure, some couples have some trouble reading the room when it comes to doing everything as a unit, but for the most part, if your friends are in healthy, functioning, and not codependent relationships, then they will totally be down to spend one-on-one time with you. And if they’re not willing to do it, well, that signals some underlying issues that frankly have nothing to do with you, so even though it would suck for them to turn down your — again, very reasonable! — request, it is not a reflection of you or your friendship, and you might have to let them figure out some things on their own.

I think it really is just a matter of asking for what you want. You can keep it as simple as “hey, I’d really love a chance to hang out with each of you one-on-one, separately, for the next few hangs.” No one will feel like you’re choosing favorites or being weird. Hanging out with a couple can be a super different dynamic than hanging out with just one friend. And I think your breakup feelings make this especially potent. You don’t need to cite the breakup as a reason for the impulse if you don’t want to! Because it’s possible that you may be in a relationship in the future and will still crave one-on-one time with certain friends without their partners and without your partner. So the breakup doesn’t need to be used as a justification unless you personally want to contextualize things. I think it’d be more helpful to set this as just a general expectation for friendship with you, regardless of your own relationship status. It sounds like you value one-on-one time in general, and that’s great! But not everybody necessarily shares that preference, so I really think it’s possible your friends just haven’t thought about it or realized it.

Who knows — some of them might even be flattered that you want to hang out with them one-on-one! Some couples feel subconsciously burdened by being perceived as one half of A Couple instead of as their own full individual selves. Because you are indeed friends with everyone involved (so this won’t be seen as you disliking anyone’s partner — even though for the record, it’s also okay to ask to hang out with a friend solo if you don’t like their partner imo!), I just don’t foresee anyone being offended. And if they are, I really do think that signals deeper boundary problems in those people that they should probably work on within their own relationships.

So really, what I’m saying here is: just ask. I promise it’s not a weird or burdensome request. I think asking for what you want out of friendships should be more normalized, and couples doing things separately is important for overall relationship health. So I see this as a win not only for you but for your friends, too. And perhaps this could encourage you to be more communicative about your wants and needs in friendships in general.


You can chime in with your advice in the comments and submit your own questions any time.


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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Miami. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 434 articles for us.

10 Comments

  1. Yes to all of this! I recently made this explicit ask to a friend of mine because I wanted to share some personal stuff with her but didn’t know her new partner well enough to include them and it went great!
    We had our hang and then both of our partners joined us for dinner so it really was a best of both worlds. Would recommend this half-and-half situation as a way to make the ask softer if you are stressed about it, though as Kayla said, it is totally normal to want and ask for a strictly one-on-one hang!

  2. I have totally had this happen to me and it is not fun. My script went something like this: “hey, the last couple times we hung out I was expecting just you, and then I was surprised when [your partner] showed up too. I like hanging out with both of you together, but I also really value hanging out just one-on-one with you. Next time, could you please be clearer about who is coming along when we’re making a plan to hang out, and then I’ll know what to expect? And I’ll be clearer about when I’m hoping for a one-on-one and when I’m excited to see your whole crew.”

  3. As someone who is half of ~A Couple~ PLEASE DO THIS!!! My gf and I share a crazy amount of friends and I very much dislike the assumption that if I wanna hang out with a friend, my partner always has to come and vice versa. I’m sure your friends will appreciate being asked to chill as individuals occasionally!

  4. Yes to all of this! Another potential thing to throw in there in addition to using your words – schedule hangs around an interest shared between you and one of the partnered people but not the other(s). I love horror movies and my wife hates them, so I have horror movie dates with a mutual friend! Then you have an activity that can become your thing with that particular person.

  5. As a person in a couple, I always tell our joined friends to let us know if they want to see just one of us. With another friend we have the arrangement that she specifically invites me along if she wants me there otherwise it is just my partner who will show up. Different folks different approaches but I am never offended by it. My partner is amazing so I totally understand if people want to have some 1 on 1 time with them.

  6. Love Kayla’s advice and the scripts in the comments! Personally I am a big fan of the three-person Signal group chat with myself and both people in the couple (if we’re all tight). Then I can say to both of them over text, “Hi friends! I love getting to spend time with you both together, and I *also* really value the dynamics I have with each one of you individually. I’d like to have a one-on-one hangout with each of you sometime in the next few weeks and can DM you to coordinate. Let me know how this sounds to you!”

    That way no one feels left out of planning, but you’re also assertively stating your request rather than asking for permission. If one partner is very resistant to having the other hang out with you one-on-one, that’s a red flag (to me). Good luck! 💖

  7. This is such a good question and such great advice!

    As someone who is part of a couple where all my friends have become friends with my partner, I genuinely love when my friends ask to hang out with me sans partner! I love not being seen solely as a package deal, if that makes sense. If my friends asked me for hangouts like anything described in the article or the comments, I’d happily say yes any time.

  8. this is very helpful, i need to be more proactive about asking about this! sometimes my partner & I share friend hangs bc we both wanna socialize but can’t carry a 1:1 convo. but we could suggest a different 3rd person come too.

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