The dating scene has gotten so bleak that my husband and I are considering running a personal ad: Committed couple seeks same for platonic partnership involving jovial dinner parties, flirtatious banter and mutual admiration. Country house a plus.
While my single friends complain bitterly about the dearth of desirable mates in New York City, they naïvely assume that the quest for Mr. or Ms. Right ends after you have found true love. Little do they know that it is doubly difficult to create chemistry among four people-not to mention coordinating work and gym schedules. Once you add kids to the equation, the odds of finding compatible companionship with another couple plummet.
It seems we are not alone in our quest to hook up with another nauseatingly happy couple. “You find a mate that mirrors you on some level, and then you look to do the same with friends,” said Jennifer Elsner, a graphic designer in her mid-30′s who lives with her husband, David Shields, and their baby son in Park Slope. They are looking for like-minded pairs to join them on jaunts to the food co-op. “It’s about forming a community.”
For the lucky few, finding their double-dating doppelgängers comes easily. When Matt and Stephanie Baumoel met Jen and Brad Kern on a ski trip to Vermont in the late 90′s, for instance, they knew they were destined to be friends. “It was an instant click. Both of us were like, ‘Ooh, they’re kind of cool. We like them.’ It didn’t hurt that they had a house in the Hamptons and a car,” said Mr. Baumoel, a senior publicist for Thirteen/WNET.
Of course, the obvious difference between finding a couple to “date” and finding an individual to date is that physical attraction isn’t a requirement for friendship, although it does help to keep things exciting (remember Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice ?). We all know married couples who seek outside companionship primarily to rejuvenate their own sparks. Tired of trading the same information about work, family and friends, these bored couples feed on new blood with fresh stories to tell.
“When you’re dating romantically, there’s that great moment when you first meet somebody and you click and you’re totally in sync. The same thing totally happens with couple friends when you go out to dinner and it just clicks. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt when it’s four bottles of wine later and you think everybody is hilarious,” said Brent Poer, a Lifetime executive who, along with his former partner Christopher Cormier, advertising beauty director at Marie Claire , used to go steady with Jake Deutche, an emergency-room physician, and Joey Guintoli, who works in fashion, when they were together.
Inspired by the success stories of couples who have committed to a steady double date, we haven’t given up hope that we too will find our special pair. Just as the Flintstones relied on the Rubbles and the Ricardos turned to the Mertzes, we are looking for a couple to serve as the supporting cast of our lives.
We find ourselves fantasizing about our dream couple. We’re not too picky, but it would help if they were good-looking-but not too good-looking. They should earn enough money that they can afford to join us on our rare night out on the town, but not be so high-powered that they look down their noses at our Old Navy–infused wardrobes. While it’s not a requirement, it would be a plus if they had glamorous jobs that prompted provocative conversation and if they lived within walking distance. Ideally, they would have a toddler who could amuse our 22-month-old daughter for hours on end.
But it’s not so simple. Courting another couple and seeking their approval can be as anxiety-producing and, ultimately, as disappointing as a date who promises to call and never does. After Friends ‘ Chandler and Monica developed a crush on another couple while on their honeymoon, they were left to ponder what they did wrong when the couple ditched them by slipping them a fake phone number. We’re now finding ourselves in the same position of assessing our flaws. “Were we too forward?” I asked my husband after one coffee date with another couple. “Do you think they’ll call us?”
“I wouldn’t wait by the phone,” he replied.
To be honest, neither my husband nor I had ever quite mastered the singles dating scene (we met on a blind date after many years of bad dates), and now we suddenly find ourselves thrust back into the world of uncertainty and self-doubt that we naïvely thought we’d left behind. Why would anyone want to date us, anyway? Are my husband’s OshKosh overalls keeping potential dates at bay? Do I talk too much about potty-training?
We recently chatted up an affable couple who met all of our requirements-and, as an added bonus, were co-owners of a trendy restaurant -but when we tried to book a get-together, they couldn’t find room for us in their busy social calendars until next spring. There was another couple we bonded with while pushing our children on the swings at the Union Square playground, but any hopes of forming a fabulous foursome were quashed when our daughter brained their son with a toy truck. (It’s amazing how quickly a little spilled blood can get in the way of a meaningful relationship.)
Then there are those awkward occasions when you hit it off with someone only to discover that your spouses can’t stand each other. “There’s nothing worse than being in a situation where you go out with a couple and you think they’re fantastic and your partner looks at you and says, ‘They suck. They’re pompous. We had nothing in common,’” as Mr. Poer put it.
Just as we were starting to lose hope that we’d ever find lasting happiness with another couple, things have begun to look up for us on the dating front. Last week, we abandoned the singles-centric East Village for the happy couples’ haven of Park Slope, where, as luck would have it, we have settled around the corner from Ms. Elsner and Mr. Shields. They invited us to a New Year’s Day party where we turned on the charm. It seemed to do the trick. We gave them our number, and we’re optimistic that they’ll call.
But just in case they don’t, we’ve already scheduled brunch with another couple for next weekend (we’re playing the field). The wife and I met at a breast-feeding support group and became fast friends by gossiping about the other moms. Her daughter doesn’t seem to mind it when our daughter occasionally whacks her on the head, and our husbands bonded over their mutual interest in imported beers, Russian literature and community gardens. If things continue to go smoothly, we might get lucky and this could turn into a steady thing. Now if we can just talk them into buying a country house.