As many of our couple friends have left the city over the last year or so, Leah and I have been put in the position of either becoming suburban hermits or making some new couple friends. Frankly, suburban hermits isn’t as fun as you’d think. It’s actually kind of depressing. So we’ve been out. Hitting the clubs. Letting the cleave hang out. Padding the bulges. Bathing in perfumes. Grooming with miniature shears. Eyebrows waxed and threaded. Collars popped.

We should start by defining our terms. First, let me say, that we aren’t talking about keys in a fishbowl. You might think we are talking about double dating. Frankly, that’s a whole other level. Couple dating is very complicated and I am going to break it down here. Double dating, I think, presumes a certain schedule and comfortability. Couple dating is the stage before double dating. It’s the stage where you see if there is enough compatibility to take it to the next level. In regular dating terms, it’s the difference between a kiss goodnight and losing their phone number (though, in this digital age, is it even possible to lose anything?).

Couple dating is a very complex process. This isn’t just boy meets boy and they are friends. Or girl meets girl and they do awful things to each other and then some day they become friends. This is boy meets boy and girl and girl meets girl and boy and then that a few more times. I think. Wait. Now I am confused. What I am saying is that a duet is easy (in the spectrum of things that are hard and simple). A quartet is difficult and harmonies are not easily achieved. And this certainly isn’t a barber shop.

Everyone has to like each other. If one of the four is annoyed by another than it’s off. And you’re back to a duet. Or if things go particularly bad you might be a single for a few days. There’s a lot on the line with couple dating, except there is literally no commitment. Otherwise these couple friends would stop leaving the city like a-holes to follow their dreams. You know what, I had a dream once and it was to have some friends. Looking at you Leif. Ian.

Alright, so let me help you out with some ground rules for couple dating.

  • Experiment or don’t. Frankly, finding people like you is going to be the easiest route. Same values, goals, etc. However, there is something to be said about finding a couple so different from everything you value that it will challenge you and your other. I don’t think there is a real rule to be found here. I think it’s about ratios. If you have 4 sets of couple friends then maybe you should have one that’s diametrically opposed to what you believe in.
  • Bring wine. I don’t reccomend having a couple over for supper on the first date. Pick some neutral ground. But if they invite you over, bring wine. If you don’t think it will come off too strong/needy, maybe bring a salad too. Don’t show up empty handed. It’s a rookie mistake. Apparently, grown ups don’t just show up to hang out anymore. You bring gifts. There is no room for argument on this point.
  • Pay for the meal. If you make the invitation you are probably supposed to pay. This isn’t grade 12. Once again I have to remind you that you are an adult and presumably can afford this. Or at least that’s what you want this couple to think. You are trying to be impressive! I have to tell you that I hate this rule. Frankly, I didn’t know about it before Connor—that scarf-wearing Nazi—invited Leah and I out for brunch with his fiance Caitlin. I mean, they aren’t even pure in the eyes of God. Plus, they are living in sin. Maybe we can just write off this whole rule? Leah says no, but my heart says yes. I’ll let you decide.
  • End the date strong. You’ve already invested in this process. You’ve either just paid for a meal or brought wine (and maybe a salad if it doesn’t make you look desperate). If you liked the way it went, trust yourself and go for the hug. This was the mistake I made with our last two couple dates. One with the aforementioned scarf-man-boy and the other with Adam and his wife Stephanie. You’ve just spent the last few hours connecting, learning and sharing everything about you. If you feel like there’s harmony you need to seal it with a hug. At least a handshake. I like to hug.

When I married Leah I told her I was excited because I no longer had to worry about girls, dating and all that stress. But couple dating is arguably worse. There are so many dynamics at work. Because some times 2 of the 4 people are already friends and if a couple date goes wrong then everything become exponentially more awkward for the original 2. Or some times you have to keep seeing the couple at various social functions and pretend to like each other when you already know there is no spark and their salad is gross. Plus, a merlot? Are you kidding? I’m just saying what you already know or are going to know some day. Couple dating is hard work, but when you find a harmony—even if the guy wears a scarf and that’s definitely not okay—it’s totally worth it.