Did I Just Have a First Date?
There is nothing worse than agreeing to meet a friend - deciding against make-up and opting for the old but comfortable wool sweater - only to come the startling realization you're on a date. The rules of dating have changed significantly since the straightforward, or lavaliering, days of Andy Hardy and one - especially one who expects to maneuver the modern dating world - should really familiarize themselves with the revised rulebook before agreeing to anymore 'studying' sessions with a friend. You could be walking into a tester date, and you were about to wear that hideous gray sweatshirt with the coffee-stains, weren't you? You need more help than I thought, please, my clueless friend, put down the sweatshirt and read on.
the impromptu foursome: a couple having dinner with two friends
There is something inherently awkward about hanging out with a friend and his/her significant other, at some point, during the night, you are going to feel like the third wheel - it is universally understood. So, of course, when your best friend asks if you wouldn't mind making their threesome - one of your fringe friends has landed the spot of third wheel - into a foursome for some casual event, you, sympathizing with the third-wheel-fringer, agree. You have been meaning to make time to hang-out with your bestie but work, or school, have been sucking away your time - this is a perfect time - and having someone else in the car will help pass the time when your friend slips into some organic PDA.
Then, on the night, someone will suggest going out to dinner first before heading to the event, everyone seems to agree and you're nodding approval not wanting to be the downer. You find yourself talking more to the fringer than your bestie, s/he seems to be deep in conversation with their significant other and you don't want to interrupt. When you all are finally seated - yes, you're sitting next to them - the conversation seems to keep organically coming back to common interests you and the fringer share.
You're having fun and it could be the singapore sling but did you just agree to hanging out with the fringer again? It's not completely weird, I mean, you have met before and s/he just wants to become better friends - that's cool.
What I like about this type of 'set-up' is there are no-strings attached and often, the tested party doesn't know what it is going on, if it's done well. Usually, this involves the fringer finding you attractive and asking your friend about you, seeing an opportunity for match-making and the possibility of double dates in the future - if successful - your friend stages an informal test date.
This allows the fringer to see if you both share common interests, s/he's always wanted to talk to you but has never had the chance - you have always stuck close to your friends at parties and s/he has stuck with hers/his. If the test date goes well and fringer feels a connection, then they will often suggest the both of you doing something together.
You, of course, agree because it comes across as they just want to be friends and want to get to know you better, since you don't realize it was a tester date you think nothing of it and are completely comfortable without putting any airs on to impress them.
the afternoon meeting: coffee, shopping or movie
It's been a few days since you hung out with the foursome, after a few casual texts from the fringer you have both decided to see a movie. You've been dying for a chance to see the movie and none of your friends seem particularly interested, so it won't be horrible going with your new friend. They suggest meeting at a local coffeehouse and then heading to a matinee - it needs to be early because they have plans later that day - you both buy your own ticket, it's totally friendly and s/he's actually kind of cool and really funny.
You, if all things are going right, are starting to wonder why you did not take the time to get to know this person sooner because you, obviously have A LOT in common. When the movie ends or the coffee drained, you both end up lingering in the lobby of the theatre discussing how much you loved/hated the movie and others like it.
Then they check their watch and announce they need to leave if they are going to make their plans, they ask if you need a ride home and you politely decline not wanting to delay them further. You find yourself saying, "Lets do this again sometime" and there is a promise they'll text you soon.
This is the second test - more important than the foursome - this is done to make sure you both are able to converse comfortably alone without the friend buffer. The pretence of plans - whether real or fake - is placed into the mix to give a limit to the amount of time you have to spend with the person. If the first test date ends up being a fluke and the person turns out to be boring or conceited you can move up your 'plans' and head-out early or stay later if you really are having a good time.
What I like about this is even if the fringer no longer feels a romantic inclination, you can still make a new friend and no one is the wiser. This removes the inherent need one feels when on a date to try to impress the other person, often trying to make ourselves sound more intelligent, better read or more stylish than we actually are - we are able to be ourselves when we do not know we are on a 'test' date.
the night meeting: the actual date
Through a series of texts you have agreed to have dinner with the fringer, at this point you've been starting to feel some indication this is a date. If you do not feel the same way and simply want to remain friends - you can always decline dinner and plan another movie date; sending the clear message you're not interested in moving out of the friends zone. To continue with the friendish theme and not completely change the plan, there is no reservation for dinner and often times, fringer agrees to go to a restaurant of your choosing.
You, of course, unsure if this is actually a date or you're just building it up in your twisted single mind pick a casual restaurant you feel comfortable going to and the night of the 'date' you change your outfit eight times. The previous times you hung out allow for the conversation to flow seamlessly and suddenly you forget that you are unsure of what exactly this thing is classified as. You even ordered that second piece of pie.
The fringer, if male, opts to pay for the dinner stating, "you can get the next one" and if the fringer happens to be female, from what I've understand, the tested feels an overwhelming obligation to pay for the dinner. There have been some stories of a dutch first-date but, to be honest, no one should be dutching on the first date - the person who does the asking should be doing the paying, no matter what.
The date usually ends with an impromptu kiss and, if the actual date went well, the invitation on a second date.
what are my thoughts and feelings? what are yours?
Several of my friends have been set-up through these casual friendly foursome arrangements. I can understand peoples disgust with the idea of having to pass a series of tests before being considered dateable but consider the alternative, a tense and uncomfortable night with a stranger who you feel an overwhelming need to impress. There is a certain foundational comfort having met the person a couple of times and knowing you have seen them at parties previously - this 'history' can act as a well of conversation.
The stress associated with dating has been completely removed by this method of courtship, dare I type that word, and allows both parties a certain ability to be themselves. There is nothing worse than spending the entire evening creating a person you think your date will like only to be rejected later on - often times you wish for a do-over; a chance to relax and be yourself.
There have been some major rewrites to the rules of dating and the game has changed significantly from the time of our parents, especially with the introduction of social networking, online dating and apps for your smartphone. The non-date has become increasingly popular with the twenty-somethings I know and with great success, we are the generation who prefers living a good stress-free life devoid of hassle.
Apart from being somewhat lazy in the workplace, we may have stumbled upon a great way to form a long-lasting loving relationship.
more hubs by this author
- how to have a successful first date: surviving the awkwardness
Are you sick of being referred to as the 'single' friend? I can help change that.
- the broken opinion: gay marriage and the twenty-something
What to do when your opinion on marriage changes and you have no one to answer the important questions.
- a single ladies guide to finding their own gay best friend
A comical take on what happens when the options for love dry up and the moden single lady needs to find a gay.