Friend Dates Gone Wrong

I’m always ranting on this blog about how wonderful and productive friend-searching is. How people are more open to friendly advances then we think, or how the hardest part is making the first move, or how swimmingly a girl-date went.

By now, you probably want to hear about the bad stuff, right? The awkward, kill-me-now, what-am-I-ever-going-to-say-to-make-this-meal-go-faster crap dates?

Because let me be clear: I’ve had them.

Like the time we had so little to say to each other that I actually heard those movie crickets chirping. Over email we seemed like a good fit, so I don’t know what happened. You know how technology can be tricky? Someone who’s all friendly and clever over email can be quiet and shy in real life? In this particular case, it wasn’t that. There was no shyness on anyone’s part,  in person or over email. Instead it was just that sense of being totally out of sync. Have you ever told a joke—a forced, trying-to-fill-the-silence type joke—and noticed that you are very clearly the only one laughing? Yup. That was me. The pattern of the dinner went something like this: her angry rant, my trying-too-hard joke, awkward silence, repeat.

Fun stuff!

Then there was the time that I wasn’t sure if my friend-date was going to end in a hug. There’s that moment in a first date (the romantic kind) when you can’t quite tell if someone is leaning in for the kiss, and you have that awkward  head bobbing interaction. Picture the friend-date version of that. Yup. My solution, obviously, was to just go ahead and make the announcement. “I’m going to hug you now.” In the words of Modern Family‘s sagely Cam: “You know how awkward I get when things get awkward.”

I met one girl who hated Chicago, and spent the entire meal telling me why she was a real New Yorker. Awesome.

There were also the bad non-dates, the ladies who never even made it to first friend-date status because they weren’t so into my “lets get together” suggestion. Like the woman I met during my yoga cleanse who, when I suggested that, “maybe you guys would want to grab lunch after our next class,” actually just gave me a blank stare. A silent one. And then turned back to her friend. (I swear! This happened!) Or the woman who blatantly stood me up. I waited the requisite 30 minutes at our agreed upon meeting place, and when she was a no-show (no call, email, text, nothing!), I had to actually say to the waiter who’d been waiting to take my order, “I guess I’ve been stood up. I’ll just take the check.” I was a total rom-com cliche.

If you go on some 52 dates in year, and then some, you’re bound to have a few duds. All that stuff about what doesn’t kill you and all…

Have you ever had a friend-date gone bad? Share below!





Filed under The Search

15 responses to “Friend Dates Gone Wrong

  1. Laurie Lee

    Yes I have and this is a good reminder why meeting for a Starbucks rather than a meal is better for a 1st date. It can be cut short if necessary and there’s no check to wait around for.

    I once met a woman that I knew in an online group (long before Facebook) for lunch and it was just like your experience, Rachel. She was lively and interesting in email but in person barely spoke. It was a looooong lunch.

  2. Gretchen

    This is a great blog….I’m looking forward to the book!

    I have a question that is related to today’s topic. My bad friend dates have a theme. I’ll give you one example:
    My first year of teaching was very difficult (I think it is for everyone) and the teacher across the hall was a good friend to me. She offered me good advice, help and support. During the summer we decided to hang out outside of school, a friend “date”. I knew my new friend was religious and Christian but the subject didn’t come up much at school.

    While meeting at her house, her T.V. was on in the background. There was a talk show on, and I don’t remember the exact subject but the guests on the show were openly gay. My “friend” made several disparaging remarks about gay people, and used the bible and her Christian beliefs to justify her prejudice. I felt extremely uncomfotable and didnt say anything. I was sad after that “date” because I knew she was nolonger a potential close friend.

    My husband says I should be more open-minded about other people’s closed mindedness. And that’s O.K. for aquaintences and co-workers. I respect the fact that different people have different experiences and perspectives. But I don’t think I can be close friends with someone that I feel is waiting for an opportunity to convert me, or expects me to share their religious convictions.

    I’ve met several people like this, who are good-hearted, kind people, but I just don’t feel I can be myself around them. So… question is….I’ve stopped “friend-dating” locals and decided that I’ll never fit in here culturally (I’ve lived here almost 8 years now). I’ve made some close friends among fellow transplants, but they tend to move within a few years. Is this just my hang-up….I don’t think religion should be a deel-breaker for friendship, but feel so judged and pushed when the subject comes up (and it always does here in the South).

    • Laurie Lee

      Gretchen, I so relate to your post! I am Jewish and I made a friend a few years ago that was older than me and Christian. Now, that actually would describe a lot of my friends! However, once I got one on one with this friend away from the larger group where we met the religious stuff started. She genuinely wanted to “save me.” Now, I like to learn new things so I was interested in learning more about Christianity but just to learn not to switch. I have diverse group of friends (race, religion, age) so this was a new experience for me. I’m used to people who accept me for who I am! This friend and I actually were very close for a few years, then we had a minor disagreement (our 1st) and she decided to write me off as a “seasonal friend.” I honestly believe she could not get past that fact that we had religious differences and used the minor disagreement as an excuse to end the friendship. Despite all this, I still miss her:(

      • Gretchen

        I’m glad you could relate. I also have friends from different backgrounds. My BFF in NY is a devout Catholic. This was never a problem for either one of us because she didn’t feel the need to “save” me and I didn’t feel the need to “open her mind” or change her. So I think it’s less about differences and more about the acceptance of those differences. Thanks for helping me clarify that!

    • Suzannah

      Gretchen, girl you are reading my mind! I am sitting outside playing with my dogs thinking through this exact problem and what to do?
      I recently have made a new friend, we have lots in common on surface issues, fashion & music, ect…but as we spend more time it is becoming more clear that on some major current events we are polar opposites. These are are not religious issues, more just common decency and how people are treated. But these are opinions that I hear as ugliness & selfishness.
      But I also don’t want to be judgmental. Uhmmm??? I don’t really want to pursue a friendship with a lot of off limits subjects.

      • Gretchen

        So you see the conundrum. Maybe this is something that gets more difficult as we get older. When we’re kids/teens we aren’t yet set in our opinions/views of the world. But as adults, our experiences have jelled into beliefs about how the world is or should be. I certainly don’t have the answer….maybe Rachel will address this friendship issue in a future blog (or in her book:;)

        ps.: Maybe what you call judgement is actually discernment. You are not judging this new friend as a person, but you are trying to discern whether or not there’s potential for a close friendship.

        • Laurie Lee


          That is really insightful, Gretchen. It definitely is harder to make friends as you get older because life experience makes us more opinionated.

    • I was also hoping that Rachel would address this as a friendship issue Gretchen – I am really liberal and a few of the people I have started hanging out with since I moved are a bit conservative, (or worse, they are neither cus they haven’t thought about it!) and it makes me quite uncomfortable. I mean how deep can a relationship be if you fundamentally believe in very different things? This is true for romantic relationships too.

    • Hi Gretchen,
      I’ve been thinking about this comment and the comments in response, and I will be writing a post about this tomorrow. In short, though, I don’t think religious differences should be a deal breaker either, but I think conflicting values might be. If the idea that everyone deserves the same rights and equal treatment is fundamental to your values, and someone else feels differently, it will probably be hard for you to have a future as that value will inform so many of your opinions. Values guide how we behave and how we treat others, so if you and a PBFF have totally conflicting values, that will probably make friendship difficult. I don’t think it’s just your hangup. But I would say its important to be sure that it is indeed your values that are differnt, rather just than your religion or politics….

  3. Suzannah

    I just saw this formula on Tv, I thought it made so much sense. A good friend is so special and it is so complicated to describe why a friendship is not fulfilling. I just loved how simple this is…
    Close healthy relationships require 4 components:
    Mutual trust
    Mutual respect
    Shared morals
    Shared interests
    This only kinda relates to today’s post, but thought first thing about your blog when I heard it.

    • Gretchen

      I love this….thanks for posting. Maybe the issue I brought up falls under the “shared morals” category. I think sometimes religion and morals get confused. I believe that religion can provide a structure for morals, but it is not the only way to develop a moral character. You can share morals without sharing the same religion.

  4. Kate

    I recently had the worst friend-date of my life.

    It started as a group outing with couples and non-couples, when potential BFF announced we would be going back to my apartment for the after-party. (What after-party??) She insisted, even when her husband tried to convince her they should “just go home” because he needed to take his mother some bagels early in the morning.

    Everyone politely announced they were calling it a night and still she ended up on my sofa.

    She helped herself to the fridge, lit up a cigarette, dropped ashes on my new white couch, and spilled beer on my new rug. Proceeded to tell me she “settled” when she married her husband, which is why it’s sometimes “kind of tense.” (Kind of??) Also, she rarely confides in others because she doesn’t want to “burden people.” Meanwhile, my husband is throwing up in the bathroom from eating oysters apparently too late in the season. And still…she will not leave.

    Then she asks me if I have a best friend. And I am like the co-ed trying to let the guy down easy, something I could never do very well. Before I have a chance to answer, she announced that she does not have a best friend because hers DIED OF BRAIN CANCER and, so…will I be her best friend??

    I promise I am not making this up. She ended up passing out of my sofa and sleeping there until the morning and I refused to come out of my room until I heard our front door close behind her.

  5. Melinda

    I met someone recently that seemed interesting. She’s a bit older than me, never been married, no kids, no pets. She has an interesting job that takes her to many different places. I knew that she wasn’t really a kid person so when we did go out a few times, I made sure to leave the kiddies at home with Dad. It was kind of nice having a non-mommy friend again.
    Then last Saturday at brunch, she told me that she didn’t think we should be friends anymore because she’s opposed to kids. I then got that whole rant about how what a terrible world it is and how we should all stop “popping out brats”.
    Maybe my kids are brats but they are my brats and I love them anyway. BTW, she only saw my kids once, and they were both outside playing so she didn’t even interact with them. I also know that she may not have been speaking of my kids specifically but it’s hard not to take that statement personally.

    I have no problem with people deciding not have kids. It’s a big decision and it’s a very personal one as well. Just because I have kids doesn’t mean I want everyone to have one too. Even as a mother, I don’t like it when other people force thier kids on me but for this woman to judge me just because I had the nerve to birth a couple of babies is just ridiculous!

    • Um. As you say, every woman has the right to choose whether kids are the right choice for her. But “opposed to kids”? Writing someone off simply because they made the choice to have children is a pretty limiting decision…

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