Friend Date Horror Stories

11 Jan

The Friend Date, what I call that uncomfortable experience when a friendly hang out turns into a pseudo-date. Just drinks turns into, “Hey, you’re getting kind of close,” and dinner includes talking about how you’ve “always wanted to date a friend, you know?”

Friend dates consist of two parties, both of whom have a significant stake in not making things weird. Party A (I’ll call him Albert), is interested in something more with Party B (hereafter known as Beatrice), but is afraid of coming out and saying it because he isn’t sure if Beatrice will feel the same way. Beatrice doesn’t want anything more with Albert, but doesn’t know how to say so without making things awkward. Out of a strong desire to preserve the friendship, Beatrice repeatedly subjects herself to friend dates with Albert until the awkwardness of *not* telling him about her lack of interest becomes more powerful than the awkwardness of telling him.

I'll try to laugh this one off...

I’ll try to laugh this one off…

..This is awkward. I'll try some deflection.

…This is awkward. Deflect!

Okay, this is suddenly too awkward. I'm out!

Okay, this suddenly got too awkward. I’m out!

Since I moved to Brooklyn, I’ve been on a series of disastrous friend dates. My move was public, and the New Yorkers of my Facebook feed came out of the woodwork to welcome me. Old friends and friends of friends suggested “drinks to catch up,” “dinner after work,” even carpooling! In my excitement to make new friends, I eagerly accepted all invitations and occasionally extended my own.

Because I’m one of those annoying people that don’t list their relationship on Facebook, my status is ambiguous, mysterious even. This may have been why an overwhelming number of “welcome to New York” invitations were from men. Well, actually, all of them were from men.

Who ever said they weren't?

But I’m nothing if not an equal opportunity desperate friend maker, so I said yes to everything and decided I would just try to avoid the date vibe as much as possible. I practiced a number of techniques that I was sure would dissipate any perceived sexual tension. I ordered gross greasy food and ate like no one was watching.

Step 1: Eat gross food

Thousand Island Dressing and ketchup overflowed from the contents of my dishes!

I went on extended diatribes about my need to make friends in the city, my disgust with the institution of marriage, and my decidedly unsexy commitment to feminism, Occupy Wall Street, and socialism.

Step 2: Talk about things that most people won't agree with. Don't forget to be passionate!

Patronizing my political enthusiasm is a sure way to convince me to real-date you!

I paid for all my own dinners and drinks, ran out early, refused to be walked home, suggested group outings repeatedly, and enthused about my love of staying in my PJs all day and playing video games.

Once I went to a bar where a "friend" was hanging out with his friends... and he moved to a table with just me! #frienddatefail

Once I met a guy for drinks at a bar where he was hanging out with his friends… and he moved to a table with just me! #frienddatefail

Nothing worked.

Nothing worked… except one thing.

I hate being that person that talks about her boyfriend all the time. “My boyfriend said just the other day…” and “Yeah my boyfriend and I went to a play last night.” But it’s the only thing that ever worked. Dropping the B-word cleared the room of all potential suitors faster than a potato fart.

But ugh! It’s so transparent! As soon as you awkwardly drop that phrase into a sentence, the date is over. It’s like a horrible poop. You know you have to do it, but you do everything you can to put it off because it will change everything (okay that simile kind of fell apart at the end there, but you get it).

The I’m-interested-in-your-life-and-want-to-know-more-about-you act abruptly ends, and suddenly it’s all “I have to go home for work tomorrow” and “I’ll call you never.” It’s like, what happened to friends?! Friendship! I want that, please!

But there was nothing else that I could do to end the awkward misery. The friend dates became so painful that the brief moments of human interaction outside of work were no longer worth the charade. At the end of every date, I’d mention my boyfriend and the atmosphere would turn stiff, like unwashed gym clothes.

Ultimately, I’ve deduced it’s because bringing up boyfriends breaks the façade. It reveals mutual knowledge of the friend date. Because boyfriend drops are so obvious and ill-timed, they break the fourth wall and leave both parties feeling embarrassed and awkward.

Sick of these disastrous almost dates, I frantically tried to figure out strategies to better tend to my budding friendships. On my next friend date, I decided to experiment. I mentioned my boyfriend before the actual hang out, figuring that if the guy did have a date in mind, he would just cancel. No surprise there– we never hung out. Making new friends fail.

Needless to say, the Friday friend date never happened.

What does seeing my boyfriend on Saturday have to do with this conversation? Nothing. But it had to be done.

Some girls can go on friend dates without ever mentioning their lack of interest. You know who they are, those masters of weathering awkward-storms. They chuckle at veiled come ons, angle themselves so touching is impossible, and otherwise ignore the obvious friend date vibe. I can’t do that. I’ve tried. It just gets too uncomfortable! Someone has to do something, goddamn it! And if I don’t, no one will, because friend daters are awesome at ignoring body language and other signs that suggest disinterest– TED talks told me so.

That’s why I propose that all people everywhere announce their intentions before even arriving at the bar. It can be simple, like the old AIM chatroom call for more information, “a/s/l.” Next time I see a Facebook message that says, “Hey! You’re in New York– we should get drinks!” I’ll cut right through the bullshit and respond with, “TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT FROM ME?!?”

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4 Responses to “Friend Date Horror Stories”

  1. Herbie January 14, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    Hilarious read. You’re a trip, my friend. Never a dull moment.

    • Caitlin Garzi January 14, 2013 at 11:50 am #

      I love how this blog quickly went from feminism/academic analysis to humor… I guess I can’t keep up that academic act for too long outside of grad school– my true colors are shining through!

      • Herbie January 14, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

        Laughter is the best medicine, indeed.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Happy 1.1 Blogversary! « Sustained Enthusiasm - February 20, 2013

    […] nature of the blog, even throwing caution to the wind and writing about pretty recent, obvious friend dates. I’m starting to think that caring less about appearances is part of getting older…. […]

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