It’s a Saturday night. What’s on the social calendar? The hubs and I can opt to go to a party, go over to a friend’s house and hang out, or spend the evening with just the two of us. We choose the latter. We almost always choose the latter.
Social scenes set the stage for all the various versions of ourselves to surface. We show different sides of our personalities depending on the situation. When K and I were first dating, we socialized with others frequently. We were getting to know each other, and spending time in a group is a guaranteed way to get a stronger line on someone’s character and personality.
However, a friend once told me that one of the biggest challenges in a relationship is other people. They influence your interactions with each other. Just like the atoms that make up our world and everything in it, when under observation by others, we have a tendency to change. We’re susceptible to our environment and who is around us.
I remember the first time I saw another girl openly flirt with K in front of me. I heard a rushing sound in my ears and my heart started to pound. I got mad. I was apparently a little jealous and possessive of K as I learned in that moment, and it influenced my social interactions the rest of the evening.
After the initial stages of dating and getting to know each other, K and I found ourselves spending most of our free time with just the two of us, and we have continued that habit since moving in together and getting married, not simply because it is convenient, but because we enjoy each other’s company. We are best friends. We are also both introverts. We like spending time alone, and we like spending time alone together. So why hang out with other people?
There are quite a few reasons actually, reasons that I have discovered as K and I have recently been slowly but actively seeking out new friendships and better nurturing our current ones as a couple.
There are many opportunities to learn from other people, but those opportunities only present themselves when we actively engage with them. Every conversation I have with someone leaves me a bit wiser in some way, whether it’s in regards to newfound facts or in the art of reading people or making successful small talk. Every interaction is beneficial. Social interactions open our minds to new things, new ideas, and we experience that as a couple. Our discussions with others add to the topics of conversations we later have just amongst ourselves.
In social situations we also learn to read each other’s body language and facial cues. I become hyper aware of K when he and I are with other people. I feel even more conscious of his presence and find myself watching him and his mannerisms, looking for any indications that he is uncomfortable or bored. It’s important that we make sure our partners are included in the conversation and that we remain aware of each other’s feelings and comfort levels in the situation. We have to work together to stay united, to not embarrass each other, play off of each other’s discussion points, joke casually and easily without giving too much away. These situations allow us to practice and become better at looking out for each other, reading each other, and being better partners overall.
We also see different sides of each other’s character as part of social interactions. When at dinner with my longtime friend who K was meeting for the first time, he asked questions and cracked witty jokes. I could tell he was trying hard to make a good impression, and make a good impression on her, and his efforts meant a lot to me. When we spend time with our friends with kids, K plays with the little ones and makes them laugh so much they can hardly breathe. It’s a light and silly side of him that warms my heart.
I know that when we walk into a room, we are in it together. Social scenes have become adventures on which we embark together, and we are letting more of the world in a little at a time. We are growing and learning and having a great time. But I think my favorite nights will forever be the ones we spend with just the two of us.