Three IS A Crowd
May 20, 2013
The unbearable, agonising, irritating pain of socialising with a couple in love…
What is worse than being single?
It’s being in the company of ‘a double’.
Ok, that’s a terrible one but there is no other way to describe my predicament when I went out on a ‘triangle date’ the other day.
Now, what’s a triangle date you may wonder! Let me explain.
It’s a ‘date by mistake’ where a singleton goes out (knowingly or unknowingly) with a man and a woman who are in a relationship or are planning to get into one. You go out with them because you believe you are out to have a good time with your pals at the movies or at a café or restaurant. Instead, you suddenly find yourself in a strange situation – of being the third angle of a triangle. The angle where you are pushed into the corner at the top, solo, and have no choice but to sit and stare benignly at the other two angles who appear to be in such perfect symmetry at the two ends of the line.
Now, I am not jealous of couples though pop psychologists may think so. Neither does seeing the unmistakable flush of love on their faces make me feel wistful. Like the rest of the world, I too love lovers. But the fact of the matter is: nothing can match the unbearable, agonizing, hair-splitting annoyance of being in the company of a much-in-attraction couple. Whoever said that three is a crowd was damn right, never mind what a ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ or a ‘Kai Po Che’ would have you believe. (But then they were about three men having a blast, I am sure things wouldn’t be as sweet and fun if the threesome comprised two women and a man in love with one of the women).
The sequence of events usually happens thus: you plan a harmless evening out with your friends or get invited to one. But as the evening progresses, you realise that your friends are more interested in each other than you. Gradually, subtly, unconsciously, you are edged out of the equation as they crack jokes or make gestures that you barely recognise. You try to fit in, laugh with them, crack a few jokes of your own and to their credit, they graciously make you feel welcome but that is exactly the problem – they, as well as you, have to make the EFFORT to have fun and feel like one unit. At times, they go out of their way to draw you into their world so that you don’t feel left out but that, in effect, makes you feel worse. For reality strikes you hard that you have unwittingly become the thorn in their rose stem! This especially happens when you, for some reason or the other, are not aware that two of your friends are seeing each other or are interested in each other ‘that’ way. You do not only have to get over the shock realisation of a new thrust to the friendship, you then have to pretend to be happy for them!
There are also times when you invite a friend and she insists on bringing her boyfriend or husband. “You wouldn’t mind, would you?” she coos. You want to say you do but end up saying ‘of course not’. And the torture begins. If you know the boyfriend well, it’s a slightly different story but if you don’t… well, it’s pure torture.
Mind you, I am not against PDA. Those in love kiss, hold hands, dance, behave as if they are oblivious to the world (they are), but can they at least respect the sentiments of a singleton who is forced to have a plastic smile on her face even as she is expected to gush, ‘oh how cute the two of you look’ when in reality she’d rather give them a hard shake-up and scream, ‘stop it you two, get a room’!
My worldly-wise friends who are experienced in relationship matters often chide me for my immaturity. It’s natural, they say, for couples in love to behave like couples in love (as if I didn’t know!) and that I should grow up and stop behaving like a nanny. But they don’t get it. While we, the single, cynical and unattached, agree that love is a many splendored thing and it’s amazing to be with the object of your affection there is one message to love-birds: please do not behave you are on a date when you are not on one! Just what are we supposed to do when you are busy feeding each other or making those eye gestures? How long can we pretend to pick on our food or stare lazily at the sky or look side-wards at other diners and manage to be totally cool? It’s plain BORING!
The worst is when you are taken for a human shield, especially by those having an extra marital friendship. Since you are not a threat, you are taken along ostensibly to act as cover for unsuspecting spouses or family. It’s terrible because they expect you to understand and not judge and of course you do understand, but standing guard so that they have a good time is against the human rights of singles!
The recently-married ones are a different story altogether. Since the honeymoon phase is still on, the topic of conversation often centres on their fantastic marriage, fabulous romance and family even if you’d rather talk cricket, movies or the latest scam hitting the country. The most torturous part: when they ask you about your non-existent love life (“still single?” “are you on the lookout” “what plans of marriage” “let’s fix you with a great guy we know”) and then sagely go on to extol the virtues of being hooked.
Finally, there is the other extreme – couples, who you believed, were solid but suddenly liquefy over a small matter and begin arguing in front of you. They may or may not be married; they may be in the first few months of a relationship or may be love-veterans but nothing, absolutely nothing, can hide the fright of having to hear and see a man and a woman argue when you least expect it – say in the midst of a movie or a dinner or when you are at their home. Suddenly you feel like choking on your coffee as unsavoury family details spill out or snide remarks passed. You feel like curling into a ball and disappear into earth and look everywhere else except them! But suddenly there is no escape as you are drawn into the fight and horror of horrors, forced to take sides!
The safest is to go with world-weary, been there-seen-that-experienced-that couples, married or otherwise. Secure and comfortable with each other, it’s like socialising with any of your buddies. Perhaps they know what happens to a relationship after years of being in a relationship and hence, just let you be without any additional drama.
Having been the thorn or to use a more desi term, the kabab mein haddi with far too many couples in varied stages of relationships, I have decided I will try my best to avoid going out with them. Though it is a bit difficult given that I am one of the few singles left in my group! Perhaps a smarter thing to do would be to enquire what stage their bond is in at the moment. Or better still, have a date of my own or another friend to accompany me. At least I can be meaningfully engaged in conversation with the fourth angle of what now becomes a square while the other two are lost in their world! Then, whether they are squabbling or cootchie-cooing, it doesn’t matter!
Yes, a foursome is definitely is so much better than a threesome!