TWO SQUARE: Quest for couple friends

Once you've found a significant other, you can expect an endless sea of weekends spent staring longingly into each other's eyes, sharing expensive bottles of wine and talking hours on end.

All while wishing you had someone else to hang out with.

Entry into coupledom is accompanied by glamorous images of skirting pickup lines and flaunting permanent eye candy.

But at the same time, an identity as a couple has a unique bearing on your nightlife possibilities.

Sure, your unattached friends will still be around — for girls' or guys' nights on the town.

But the sound of "we'll be together, she'll be paying separately" can turn "friend" into "acquaintance" really quickly.

Which means, naturally, that it's time for indoctrination into a secret society whose creed relies on repeated use of "you guys."

Couple friends.

They're not too easy to come by. That's because "couple" and "friends" are distinctly different from "couple friends."

Why? You're no longer united by a tangible goal of scoping out members of the opposite sex. At least you can no longer admit that's what you're doing.

Instead, you're simply "hanging out" to enjoy each other's company — and temporarily escape the confining throes of coupledom.

With mixed results.

One too many lulls in conversation and you'll have aged five decades by discussing "Everybody Loves Raymond" reruns and Bed, Bath and Beyond sales.

Finding couple friends is often so difficult, in fact, that it's made for the creation of Web sites like Kupple (www.kupple.com), a family-friendly social networking site to find other paired-up friends.

The challenges are understandable.

Even if you and your significant other have just one pair of couple friends, you still each have three individual people to attend to during a double date. Just one socially inept piece of the puzzle could ruin the entire dynamic.

And discussions can't just be same-sex, either. You have to be able to converse with your romantic partner, your gender partner and your gender partner's partner.

Everyone has to get along.

But not too much. Bring ogling into the equation and your problems are well beyond the realm of boredom.

Even if you are able to muster a discussion that doesn't involve baby names or retirement funds, finding a couples-friendly party destination that's a happy medium between "old married couple" and "swingers" can be difficult.

Your best couple friends may not necessarily be your best individual friends. In fact, they may disown you should you and your significant other sever ties. So don't get too attached.

Finding couple friends can at times be challenging enough to make you long for a retreat back to singledom.

So why bother?

First, your single friends probably don't even care about you anymore.

But more importantly, just as your unattached comrades helped you through your dating daze, couple friends will help you navigate the uncertainties of a collective "we."

And while aligning your interests may be difficult, once you find the right set of friends you'll be feeling the same way you did when you first escaped the single life.