"How’s [insert boyfriend-adjacent-person’s name]? Let’s all have dinner sometime!" says the friend who is in a four-year relationship. Oh cool, but instead of "let’s all have dinner sometime," don’t you mean, "let’s have a double date because now you’ve finally found someone"? I am sensitive and defensive, so my reaction is: "Why haven’t you ever invited me out to dinner with you and your boyfriend, sans companion?" And this why doubles dates are bad. Because they’re archaic and only inspire more "us" versus "them" when it comes to singles and couples.
If you’re single, or have been single for a significant chunk of your life, I imagine — or, I hope — you can relate on some level. (Otherwise it means that I am truly just a grumpy curmudgeon who can’t accept an invite.) Even if your friends are pros at inviting you to dinner parties with couples and letting you navigate them like the grown-*ss single woman you are, when you get into that relationship, something changes. New avenues and activities open up to you and your boo. It’s like you’ve been invited to join a secret club: the double date club.
Before I careen too far down the "I hate everyone so much that I’m about to make everyone hate me" I want to highlight a very important fact: not all couples love double dates. In fact, I know many women and men in relationships who hate double dates. Whether it’s because they feel forced, because they feel unnecessary, or because coordinating four people to happily eat at the same restaurant at the same time is much harder than pleasing two, double dates suck.
I know a couple who sort of faded off the planet once they got married. Well, that’s not entirely true — they would still invite their coupled-up friends on "couple activities" like apple-picking. This always frustrated me. I’m single – I can go apple picking! I can go to I can hang out and not feel like a third or fifth wheel! Who needs a boyfriend to pick some fruit off a tree? Not me. Not anyone.
Double dates are bad because they perpetuate that tired old idea that having a partner somehow makes you "complete." Double dates feel like some sort of casual inauguration into the the successful club of those who have found life partners. But the truth is that you don’t need a partner to have a happy life.
As a serially single human who has resisted relationships for years, I have often thought that I might be "less than." But as I’ve grown older, and warmed up to the idea of relationships, I’ve found that I’m not a leper — I just love independence (and have a healthy side of intimacy issues). I like falling for someone and dating them, but I need to be able to go hang out with my friends alone, or make separate plans for Memorial Day.
I don’t want to be part a "we" if that means "we only hang out with other couples." I want to be part of a "we" that means "cool people only," no matter their relationship status. Plus, let’s be real, how many of your friends’ SOs do you really like hanging out with? Fifty percent of them, tops? Then factor in that probably only half of your friends SOs like your SO. Sorry, reality bites.
The math does not work in the double date’s favor. Do you really want to spend your Friday night pretending like you’re all chummy because you happen to both be in relationships? Spending time with your partner should be fun, not a drag. Don’t turn it into one.
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