Dubai Diaries: Four's company

Double dates are like first dates, but with twice the anxiety.

By Gopika Nair

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Image for illustrative purposes only
Image for illustrative purposes only

Published: Sun 14 Nov 2021, 10:12 AM

Up until late last year, I had never been on a double date. That Friday, when my partner suggested we meet up with a high school friend and his now-fiancée for drinks, I felt so unmoored I had to text my friend for moral support.

Double dates are like first dates, but with twice the anxiety. You don’t just have to win over one person; you have to be disarming enough to impress two. It’s the ultimate test of social compatibility.

My partner and I made a plan to meet the couple at 7pm. For the next few hours, I paced, deliberated over my outfit, painstakingly straightened every last curl on my head and practiced a few variations of: “Hi, it’s nice to meet you both.” The whole time, my stomach was in knots.

Would they like me? Would I like them? What’s the proper greeting etiquette in this scenario? Surely, my partner, who hadn’t seen his friends in several months, would go in for hugs. But was that appropriate for me to do, especially in the midst of a pandemic? What would we even talk about?

Turns out, a lot. In between flowing conversations about The Beatles, their wedding plans and an ice-breaker game of “never have I ever,” they told us they were excited to finally have the chance to hang out with another couple.

For a long time, I didn’t understand the allure of double dates. All I knew was that it was a rite of passage if you were in a relationship. You meet someone, you fall in love, you go on a double date; that’s just the way it goes. Perhaps what’s most thrilling is the buzz of feeling like you’ve gotten into an exclusive club after enduring hours in a queue.

But the double dating club is a divisive one. Some people love it, while others loathe it for its unique ability to highlight the warts in a relationship. I coast the in-between; I relish the alone time with my partner, but I also enjoy playing catch-up and spending a night out with my friends. The two are often separate.

Why, then, do we feel the urge to seek out “couple friends”? It’s not a friendship in the traditionally unfiltered sense; you can’t text a couple your problems or call them in tears just because you want to vent.

The premise — as well as the magic — of double dating is simply having an outlet to spend time with your partner and socialise with two people whose company you like almost as much. Throughout, you can hold your partner’s hand or talk about your relationship without wondering if your single friend finds you insufferable for turning into the gooey, romantic monster you used to ridicule once upon a time.

The friendships that arise out of double dates may not be life-altering, but perhaps it’s better that way. Keep it light, keep it fun and sneak glimpses of your partner smiling, chatting and having the time of their lives. That’s the whole point.

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