A Mandate for Man Dates

I’ve become a friend pusher.

I hear myself talking up “guy time” to Matt these days. A combination, I know, of wanting him to get all the great benefits of social interaction and trying to assuage my own guilt for constantly ditching him for girls nights. His reaction is usually some variation of “I’m all good with the friends I’ve got, thanks….”

As I’ve mentioned here already, my brother recently moved to Chicago. While he has Matt and me, and our cousins, and of course his girlfriend and her friends, he’s arrived in the city under similar circumstances that I did: leaving almost all his best friends behind in New York City.

So when a friend announced that her long-distance boyfriend was moving to Chicago, also from NYC, of course I knew what should happen. A man date!

They’d be a great setup. Two Big Apple transplants in their 30s. Done and done.

Until I mentioned it to my brother who told me that “I’ll do it if you want me to for the blog, otherwise no thanks.”

There are two things of note here. 1) What good brothering that he’ll do anything for this blog. 2) I probably sabotaged my own plan when I called it a man date.

I watched I Love You, Man for the first time since starting this blog the other day. It was fascinating to hear so much of my internal dialogue come out of Paul Rudd’s mouth. Though ultimately the film is a buddy comedy, when Paul Rudd sets out on his search for a best man I figured I might pick up some tips. What stuck with me most was the rule that Rudd’s character should ask guys only to “casual lunch or after work drinks.” No dinners allowed.

If said rule holds true for women I’ve been a real rebel. Apparently, dinners are too intense for a first meeting. Too much like an actual date. Or so says Andy Samberg.

I’m re-approaching the brother set up, this time with the hopes of planning a triple date: Me and Matt, my brother and his girlfriend, and my friend and her man. It will be a big hit… assuming I haven’t already put too much pressure on them. Oops.

Though I tend to think it’s easier for guys to make friends, they seem generally less open to friend dates. When I try to set up girls there’s always at least a meeting. They may never be BFF, but they try each other on for size. Men seem so put off by the idea of an awkward I Love You, Man type meeting that they just laugh at me and tell me to keep the BFF searching to myself.

Who do you think would be more open to friend-dating, men or women? Why? And what’s your stance on dinner on the first date?


Filed under The Search

15 responses to “A Mandate for Man Dates

  1. Suzannah

    Golly I would never have thought the dinner on the first outing was a deal-killer….but I had a friend date set for a pedi, then said “o we ought to go to dinner afterwards”…and wouldn’t you know it! She ended up cancelling!…at the time I regretted throwing that out there…but Saturday nite, why wouldn’t you go eat!!!…maybe too much one on one pressure.?????

  2. I definitely don’t have a problem with dinner as a friend-date. One of my girlfriends and I have a standing dinner date every week, and we’ve never thought anything of it. But since you mention it, I honestly can’t picture my boyfriend and his BFF planning a night around going out to dinner. Their typical night (which is usually a result of me hanging out with his BFF’s wife) is either watching sports/playing video games and ordering a pizza (because yes, I am apparently dating a 13 year old boy) or going to a bar to watch sports and drink, and they happen to get dinner while they’re there.

    I had a girls night on Saturday, and we were talking about how weird it is that all of our guys still hang out with their friends from grade school or high school, and haven’t really made many new friends since then. Their friends are from a time in life where you didn’t have to work too hard to make friends, so maybe friend-dating seems like it’s totally unnecessary to some guys. I do wonder what would happen if they relocated and were no longer surrounded by lifelong friends. Would they bother trying to find new ones like I did and like you are, or just be content by themselves?

    • I think in the I Love You, Man “no dinner rule” they were talking specifically about the “first date.” When Paul Rudd’s character is trying to make new friends. I’d like to think that guys who are already friends would have no problem eating dinner together, though you’re right that I don’t actually see it happening too often…

      • I agree with Anne’s comment – guys do seem to have an easier time making friends with people they’re kind of “forced” to be friends with – a la school and work. Or they go the route of reconnecting with friends or “guys they knew” from school/work and then gain new friends through those mutual acquaintances. Guys friendships really are fascinating sometimes.

  3. pamela

    I think dinner on a first girl-date is easier to do when it’s in conjunction with another activity. Scenario being, “hey I really have to get this dress at (insert store here), do you want to go with me?” Other person says yes then dress shopping turns into, “oh wow I didn’t know what time it was do you want to get something to eat?” BAM! Dinner girl-date. 😉

    As far as men go, I think it’s easier for men to relate to each other once they know the other guy’s “thing” is. Example “thing” could be: sports, music, girls, etc. Does it sound kind of simple? Well, most guys are. 😀

  4. I think guys are less up for the friend-date. They may be less “people-people” than we are. I could be wrong. Some of them are well versed on social etiquette but A LOT of them are NOT!

    Also some guys are a bit homophobic and they don’t want other people thinking they are on a “date-date”. I don’t know many girls who would worry about that!

  5. Rebecca

    I learned once (marriage book? somewhere reputable) that although girls relate better through face-to-face interaction, guys relate through shoulder-to-shoulder interaction. This rings pretty true according to all the men & women I’ve talked to. Thus, guys DO stuff together, shoulder-to-shouler. They play video games, or watch sports, or play golf, etc. Maybe that’s why dinner-dates (almost completely face-to-face unless there’s a game on) is too intimate for them. Although I do know guys who go out on man-dinner-dates, they’ve been friends forever, so they can handle it.

  6. Guys are into “dates” where they don’t really have to make much conversation, I think. Ball games. Watching a game at a sports bar. That kind of thing. I think they’re afraid that if they go to dinner, people will assume they’re a “couple?”

    • I agree with KW. Men are more inclined to keep it casual and are more interested in meeting when it revolves around a sports related endeavor, either playing a sport or watching a sport. Otherwise, they may be trading in their “man” card.

  7. JenD

    When it comes to men – and even most women I know – I figure you can’t go wrong with a group gathering. Something like inviting everyone over to watch a game works, even though my husband and I aren’t really sports fans or anything and our tiny house is embarrassingly decorated in early Hand-Me-Down. I like the casualness of these gatherings because it takes all the pressure off the people your trying to “friend” or “mate” (I’ve done this to covertly introduce guys to gals and vice versa that I thought might hit it off, as well as friends I thought would end up hanging out even if we weren’t around.). Sometimes it actually works!

  8. Julia

    Andy Samberg’s character says no dinner dates because of the intensity thing, but also because guys who are straight don’t wanna come across as gay. Girls I think have less of this problem, in the most straight girls are never assumed to be gay under . . . like any circumstances I can think of unless they dress the part.

    But it’s true that dinner can be too much. There’s a reason there are “ladies who lunch”. A lot of lunch specials are kind of girl-centric (half a sandwich and a pasta side at Panera Bread). Personally, whether I’m dating a guy hoping it will turn romantic or dating a girl hoping it’ll go BFF route, I try to go with really relaxed dates. Mostly I insist it be something in the realm of getting together for coffee. That’s because:
    – When you’re more relaxed you are more yourself. No reason to make something more plagued with anxiety than it needs to be. You can just chat, and just chatting I think is usually “more you” than anything else you say.
    – Sometimes you don’t hit it off. And when you’re “obligated” to do something, it can be reeeaaaally awkward. If it’s relaxed, the date can either be extended (“I’m not doing anything after this, wanna go try on sunglasses? I promise they all make me look really silly!”) or cut short (“Actually, I really need to go home and prune my front yard. Last weekend before it gets REALLY cold, right?!”) as needed. Just, ya know, feel it out.
    – I do really love to cook, but first dates are not right for, “Hey, come to my house, I’ll cook!” It’s too much too soon. But I really . . . kinda hate going to restaurants and letting someone else cook for me.

    • Suzannah

      I totally agree with the idea of determining plans based on how the time is feeling….I left a previous comment , and I knew when I threw the idea of going to dinner out there, that it felt off….and even I felt awkward…but back tracking felt un-doable.. I hate the feeling I came on too strong…like I am some creepy guy at a bar!!!!
      But whatcha gonna do?…I am moving on to other potential new friendships right now…..I kinda figure, if she had legitimate reasons to cancel, she can contact me..otherwise I will cut myself some slack!!! I am new to the whole asking aquaintances to friend dates!!!!

      • Julia

        Hey, live and learn, that’s what I say!

        Negotiating friendships in this modern age (especially initiating friendships as an adult) is kind of new and uncharted territory. Although I have to say while I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt — assuming you’re totally cool. even if I felt dinner was too much, I probably would not have canceled on you — I’ve noticed mostly people do not do this for me. Sometimes I think this is their loss. If only because I make cookies, and I like to share.

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