Hug or a Handshake?

Couple dating, a perfect evening or a Hellish social experiment?

Dating someone and having a friendship with someone are significantly more comparable than most people think, especially later in life.  We look for certain traits in people when we are out on a date.  For example, do we have similar interests?  Is the conversation flowing well or is it awkward?  Do they have a good sense of humor?  Can you stand being around them?  Did I just describe what people look for in a partner or did I describe what people want in a friend?  Like dating, finding good friends that last can be quite difficult.

What happens when the dating and friendship world collide?  My girlfriend and I are new to town and looking for couples to hang out with, double date if you will.  Sure I have some new friends in my roommates, as does my girlfriend but as a couple, we have found it difficult to find other couples to hang out with.  Couple friendships are exponentially more difficult than one on one friendships.  What if my girlfriend doesn’t like the other girl?  What if the other guy likes my girlfriend a little too much?  What if I find the other guy to be incredibly dull?  For a couple friendship to work, everyone must like everyone else, but no one can like anyone too much.  On top of that, once you are a couple, it is tougher to find time or an activity that everyone likes to do.  I am not there yet, but I can imagine that children would further complicate things.

I’m not saying yet that my girlfriend and I are going to get married and have kids, though it does seem to be moving in that direction, I am just saying that having friends as a couple seems to get significantly more difficult once we progress to that stage.  My girlfriend disagrees with me and says that everyone loves us so we won’t have any trouble at all making friends.  I beg to differ.

Last month we were out with a co-worker of mine and his girlfriend.  We decided to grab dinner and a smoothie afterward.  The double date started out great, my co-worker and I were kind of driving the conversation because we knew each other but the women were engaged and participating.  When we got our food though, the conversation transitioned to me and my co-worker discussing workplace issues and gossip, leaving our girlfriends to listen.  Being a seasoned double dater, I quickly realized the mistake and tried to steer the conversation toward the women and what they might have in common.  I was able to get them talking a little bit more, but the mood of the conversation was never quite the same.

We left the restaurant very pleased with the food so everyone was in a good mood.  As we walked down the block to a Jamba Juice, I was optimistic about our double date.  The conversation in the middle of dinner had been dull and forced, but other than that everyone seemed to have the same interests and get along well.  Somehow, on the walk to grab our smoothies, the conversation had turned political, which can be a very dangerous topic and I would suggest that couples never discuss politics (or religion for that matter) with other couples if it can be avoided.  Luckily it turned out that we have essentially the same political views and so the women were able to strike up their own conversation while my co-worker and I got back to discussing work stuff.

My girlfriend is right, we are a fairly easy couple to get along with and even with the awkward dinner conversation and dodging the political bullet, the double date was still on track.  That is until we decided to call it a night and go our separate ways.  We said we had a good time and that we should grab a drink the following Friday at a nice local pub.  My co-worker agreed and we shook hands.  My co-worker’s girlfriend stepped up to me and went for the hug as I went for the handshake.  We ended up with the super awkward handshake, but overall we probably could’ve gotten past that point.  Since I went for the handshake, my girlfriend did as well when the other woman tried to hug her too, creating a second awkward parting gesture.  My girlfriend and co-worker smiled politely at each other and shook hands before we went our separate ways.

Looking back, the initial conversation was good as was the post-dinner conversation.  The middle of dinner was a little weird, but we were all busy eating too so it wasn’t bad.  The mood throughout the night was a little up and down but mostly positive.  Without the awkward goodbyes, I am confident that my girlfriend and I would be having drinks tonight with my co-worker and his girlfriend.  However, this afternoon I received a text from my coworker saying “Sorry babe, I can’t get us out of drinks tonight, I’ll make it up to you later.”  I assumed that that text was meant for my coworker’s girlfriend and quickly responded to him saying that I had a lot of work to do and that we could reschedule.  I understood the bind he was in, his girlfriend not wanting to see my girlfriend or me again, so I didn’t hold it against him.  My coworker and I still get along, we just leave our significant others at home when we go out.

Even though my girlfriend and I might be an awesome couple, the dating scene is a minefield and few make it out alive.  No matter how much dating sucks sometimes, double dating is much worse, I don’t know how any of us survive…

Additional Information

When Four Play the Dating Game