It took 200 double dates to learn these valuable lessons.
by Ethan Fixell
I've been on my fair share of double dates — certainly more than anyone I know. Thanks to a video posted on YouTube and some corresponding ads on Craiglist, my friend Dave and I have been on close to 200 of them in the course of just a few years, documenting our romantic/terrifying journey in the process. And from these numerous trysts — many of which were utterly disastrous — I've come to understand the unspoken "rules" of double dating. The following guidelines will assure the conversion of any double date into a night of true love, or at least the closest you can get to it without winding up with matching tattoos.
1. Don't choose a wingperson who's better looking than you.
Not long before embarking on my journey with Dave, I went on a double date with an Abercrombie and Fitch model. Despite my charming personality and his struggle with the English language, I failed to garner any attention from the ladies, and he received two lap dances. (And neither of the girls were strippers by trade.) For best results, partner up with someone in your "league."
2. Screen your dates thoroughly.
While I find the comfortable informality of double dating generally preferable to the traditional form, I admit that it can promote deception and ulterior motives. During one particular misadventure with Dave, it became clear quite quickly that only one of our dates was interested in only one of us. While the girl flirted openly with me, her unenthused wingwoman — apparently doing her friend a "favor," as we later learned — stoically texted every contact in her address book as Dave serenaded her with an arsenal of John Legend songs.
On a more disturbing rendezvous, we treated one pair of suspiciously youthful ladies to cocktail after cocktail, only to discover — upon their producing work permits when finally carded — that they were underage girls merely looking to experience "wastedness" for the first time together. By obtaining multiple photos and engaging in brief, but comprehensive phone conversations, you and your wingperson may avoid disappointment, or a night in jail.
3. Never call dibs.
Dave and I have more than once made the awful mistake of marking territory sight unseen. Not only have there been instances in which we were required to "trade" our original picks midway through the evening, but there were also disputes far less resolvable. A clash over one notably attractive female even resulted in fisticuffs, and nearly in the termination of our entire project.
Rather than laying claim to dates before actually meeting them, I strongly suggest keeping an open mind and allowing the night to take its course. If no clear lines have been drawn by the close of the evening, fight your friend to the death for the hotter one.
4. Pick a venue suitable for a foursome.
In an attempt to impress a semi-pro figure skater, Dave convinced me that an ice-skating rink would be the perfect site for a double date. He was proven wrong when my date — who had never skated before — ended up smashing her face into the boards. Consider the interests of all four daters when planning a group activity. For example, avoid bars that seat linearly, which will exclude those sitting on either end. Tables are a must; round tables, even better; picnic blankets, ideal.
5. Pre-determine plans for payment.
Gentlemen: before the date begins, work out which of you will be paying for each part of the night and how (e.g. cash, credit, etc.). This will prevent a host of potentially awkward moments later. ("I'll get this one, dude." "No, it's fine, I got it." "Please, allow me." "Are you sure?" "Why, you want to split it?" "Maybe that's easier?" "I'm not sure." "Okay, who had the lychee martini?") Ladies: practice your feigned protests long before the date to ensure an air of authentic gratitude when the bill comes.
6. Establish a "safeword."
Should the date head south, it's important to have an unusual word or phrase which can be uttered at any point, thus triggering your wingperson to come to your rescue. Perhaps best employed to diffuse unwanted sexual tension (as when Dave, upon hearing the code, intercepted an unattractive woman's third attempt to kiss me with a mood-killing nonsequitur about "the art of the 'mangina'"), this backpocket ace is one of the greatest benefits of double dating. You can even establish a second word as an emergency ripcord for ending the date entirely (as would have been useful for the girls who panicked upon hearing Dave's offer to demonstrate said "mangina").
Make sure the "safeword" is something you wouldn't normally interject into conversation to avoid false alarms. In the past, Dave and I have used "mani-pedi," "Beyonce," and "Dancing With The Stars."
7. Coordinate, but don't imitate.
Before Dave and I became full-time comedians, we held day jobs with dress codes. But because Dave's occupation required him to work weekends, he was once forced to show up to a Saturday night date in a suit and tie, while I donned my casual weekend wear — jeans and a t-shirt. Together, we looked like lawyer and client en route to a parole hearing. Always consult with your wingperson about wardrobe before meeting for the date.
That said, while you don't want to resemble Law & Order characters from opposite sides of the track, you also don't want to look like creepy clones. A pair of twins once showed up to a date in the same exact sundress. It was like Dave and I had walked onto the set of The Shining.
8. Avoid inside jokes.
One especially insufferable duo alienated us with their many inside jokes. They squealed whenever Katy Perry's "California Gurls" was played, chattered incessantly about their mutual love for the color pink, and repeated the same outdated tween catch phrase ("That's so Raven!") about four hundred times. While it's great to have a wingperson you're super-close with, remember that a double date is first and foremost about meeting new people, not bonding with your best friend.
9. Promote your wingperson.
Double dating doesn't just double your chances of finding a match — it also provides you with a partner who can offer protection or help build you up. If your wingperson is at a loss for words or, worse, commits a faux pas, lay down some cover! Shamefully, there was an occasion in which I inappropriately verbalized my chronic fear of STDs ("You girls are clean, right?"), but thankfully, Dave was there to smooth things over ("My buddy, Ethan — such a neat freak!"). Dave has also frequently supported me with highly subtle compliments: "Some say Ethan looks like Maroon 5's Adam Levine. But his 'moves like Jagger' aren't on the dance floor." Work as a team.
10. Loyalty above all!
Although the objective of a double date is to meet new people, always stay faithful to your friend. For example, if your friend excuses himself to the bathroom, don't propose a threesome. Like Dave did. Instead, remind yourself that he or she was there for you before the date began, and that friendships often last longer than romances ever do.
And if the three-way is a sure thing, and the girls are super-hot, and even your friend totally understands that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — please, don't start the action while that friend is still in the room. You know, like Dave did?
Put these rules to the test — head over to Nerve Dating and meet someone new.