Inviting other duos to join you on dates is a great way to get to know other couples who share your interests better and add new sparks in your own relationship, plus, it doubles your fun — provided you’re going on the right kind of date. Carin Goldstein, LMFT and founder of bethesmartwife.com, says that couples often forget that there’s more to a relationship than just the two people who happen to be in it — and that one person alone can’t be expected to meet all of your social and emotional needs. Spending time with other couples can add richness to your life and a new dimension to everyone’s relationship. So, going on the right types of double dates are beneficial for everyone involved. “Life is already intense, and going out with another couple can be stressful — so just try to have fun,” advises Goldstein. Below, you’ll find four great ideas to try (and three romance-killing options to avoid) on your next group outing.
Worst double date #1: Spending a spa day together
Spas are a great way to unwind, but trying to go into major relaxation mode with another couple can make for an ultra-uncomfortable experience… and according to a recent Match.com poll of over 12,000 men and women, 52% of you agree: it’s the worst double-date idea ever. Austin Burton*, a 34-year-old anesthesiologist from Springfield, IL, says, “My wife and I were at a conference in Sedona and met up with a coworker and his wife who suggested that we visit the hotel spa for some treatments. Hanging out (almost literally) with your coworker in flimsy robes and drinking lemon water is about as uncomfortable as you can get. My hair was greasy, my wife felt uncomfortable sans makeup, and our skin was oily from the massage — I never wanted to see those people again.”
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Worst double date #2: A candlelit dinner
And according to 37% of respondents in our recent double-date options poll, soft music and low lighting can make for an especially awkward evening for more than two diners (not to mention the uncomfortable feelings that may arise if canoodling couples end up surrounding you and your date with a PDA display). “One New Year’s Eve, my husband and I went to a romantic restaurant with some old and new couple friends,” says Allie Brandenberry*, a 34-year-old executive director in Oklahoma City, OK. “Everyone seemed to be doing his or her own thing to drown out the uncomfortable atmosphere. Our old friends texted each other from across the table, and our new friends kept the conversation to themselves. Needless to say, we wrapped up before midnight!”
Worst double date #3: Going to see a movie
It may not spell disaster, but movie dates are better suited for twosomes, according to 11% of our survey’s respondents. You’re better off avoiding awkward “who-should-sit-by-whom” aisle encounters by saving the low lighting and sharing popcorn with each other another time. Goldstein says that if there’s less conversation, then there’s less opportunity to get to know each other, and therefore less bonding for the couple. She recommends that if you’re going to see a movie, to grab a drink after and discuss the plot as a way to connect.
Best double date #1: A casual dinner
Whether you want to try a new restaurant, an old standby or love to cook at home, a casual dinner is a great choice. According to a recent Match.com poll of 1,277 men and women, 49% say that it’s their most-loved option for double dates. “One of the first things my husband and I were able to bond over when we started dating was our love of food,” says Justine LoMonaco, a 25-year-old social media manager in Long Island, NY. “In fact, we often joke that if one of us didn’t love seafood as much as the other, it would have never worked out. Now, we incorporate our love of food into our double dates.” LoMonaco adds that one of their favorite things to do is pick out a restaurant that neither she nor the couple’s friends have been to and then order a bunch of appetizers, split a bottle of wine or two, and get to know each other better in a relaxed environment.
Best double date #2: Hiking in a scenic locale
Trekking your way through nature with another couple in tow can be a great way to bond (not to mention the added bonus of getting in some exercise) — and 23% of our poll’s respondents said that this would be their perfect double-date idea. Goldstein points out that research shows “exercise is like Miracle-Gro for the brain — it gets your endorphins going by fueling up on the dopamine released due to being active, which makes bonding easier… and it also puts you in a feel good-place for socializing.” Goldstein believes that hiking is a particularly advantageous date for men to choose because they’re naturally kinetic people, so they function better through movement. Plus, it helps to create a dialog and more positive chemistry within the group.
Best double date #3: Taking a class/dance lessons
Learning can be fun — especially when other couples are involved, according to 17% of our respondents. Taking a cooking class, mixology session, or dance lesson can be a fun way to learn a new activity while spending time with your coupled-up friends. Goldstein says that research shows the success rate of doing something new and innovative on a date is already high, so when you double that, it makes going on this kind of double an exciting new adventure for everyone involved.
Best double date #4: An outdoor picnic
It may sound ultra-romantic, but an outdoor picnic can actually make for a great date for two (or more!) couples, according to 11% of the men and women we polled. When the weather’s nice, simply choose your favorite outdoor spot and ask each couple to bring some of their favorite dishes to share with the group. You can even incorporate an outdoor activity into the mix (like a board game or Frisbee) to keep the date going after your meal.
*Names have been changed to protect contributors’ privacy.
Anne Roderique-Jones is a New York City-based freelanced writer whose work has appeared in such publications as Redbook, Woman’s Day, The Knot Magazine and other national publications.