Experts explain the pros and cons of this new dating experiment.

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Let's face it: First dates are awkward AF. But what makes anything less cringeworthy? More people to break any cricket-inducing silences. Enter: double dates. Sometimes, going on a first date solo can feel like you're on stage with a blinding spotlight shining down on you. It's tricky to perform under pressure, but invite three more people onto that stage and you've got yourself a lively show. And since singles are diving back into the dating game this summer after months in isolation, why not rip the bandaid off with a familiar friend seated next to you?

"A double date is a great first date option for people who are shy, slow-to-warm, or feel awkward on a first date," co-founder of double dating app Fourplay, Julie Griggs, tells HelloGiggles. Her partner Danielle Dietzek adds, "There's less pressure, fewer awkward silences, it's more social and safer, especially for women." On Fourplay, pairs of single friends browse other pairs of singles, match with each other, and boom—a blind double date is lined up.

If you'd prefer to use a dating app you're already on, like Hinge or Bumble, some singles are simply making a joint account with a friend on these traditionally solo apps. Add pictures of you and your fellow single gal pal, then state that you're looking for a pair of singles to double date in your prompts.

Below, Griggs, Dietzek, and dating coach for The League, Connell Barrett, break down the pros and cons of double dates (which Barrett calls "a friendly, low-pressure vibe." Spoiler alert: The upsides outweigh the *potential* downsides.

Pros of double dates:

1. You'll feel more comfortable being yourself.

No one feels completely at ease with a stranger they're trying to impress. But when you're just hanging out with your girlfriend, the true you shines through—jokes, smiles, and all. Throw this dynamic into a first date scenario, and you're showing your potential love interest your best self.

"On first dates, I feel like I'm performing and not really being myself when I'm one-on-one," Dietzek admits. "But when Julie and I go out together, I feel like I can actually be my authentic self, and I leave the date feeling more confident that someone actually liked me and not someone I was pretending to be."

2. You'll see your date in a social setting—and vice versa.

"It's important to see the types of people someone you may be romantically interested in surrounds themselves with," Griggs points out. "You can learn a lot about a person by who they're friends with."

Plus, your date will be impressed by how you hold your own at a table of four. "We all get judged by our social skillset," Barrett says. "Your date will be attracted to your ability to have fun and be sociable in a group setting."

3. There's more room for connections.

Let's say you walk into the date with a clear idea of which guy or girl you're into, based on their profile. Chemistry is everything, and your guess might be completely wrong when you meet your pair face-to-face. Be open to the possibility of connecting with either person in your group.

4. There's potential to expand your social circle.

"Whether or not you make a romantic connection, you're very likely to have something arguably just as valuable: two new friends," Barrett says. Regardless if the four of you walk away from the double date with a new crush, if it goes well, you might have just found two new rooftop buddies, which are equally (if not more) important for summer 2021.

Cons of double dates:

1. They're tricky to schedule.

It's hard enough to find a time that works for a date with one person, but add two more schedules into the mix, and landing on a time and place for a double date is about as tricky as deciphering flirty dating app messages. You're going to have to bounce around a variety of options to wind up with one that works for everyone.

2. There's potential competition.

"The most introverted person in the group could get quiet and feel a bit intimidated by three other personalities," Barrett notes. "If you're shier side, make sure you chime in and contribute to the conversation."

Now, here's the really sensitive part of double dating: What if you and your friend are into the same person? Cue the cringing. By drink number two, it'll be clear you're both crushing on Kenny with the curly hair. Then, Robert with the wire-rimmed glasses will feel like the rejected odd man out, you and Jenna will enter a subtle competition to win Kenny's affection (eyelash batting, leaning forward, etc.) and soon enough, the four of you will be begging the waiter for the check.

"If you and your friend have a history of always going for the same type of guy, then that friend probably isn't the best person for you to team up with [for a double date]," Griggs says. But Dietzek adds, "It's not a competition and you can't force chemistry with someone, so be down to just see what happens naturally." Plus, Griggs reiterates: "Your friendship should always be at the forefront."

3. Bills can rack up.

We're big believers in splitting the bill on a first date. After all, this person was a stranger at the beginning of the night; why should we or they spend our hard-earned money on them already? The check on a double date will be double the size, so be cognizant of the cost.

"Danielle and I always offer to split the bill on our double dates," Griggs says. "Sometimes we do and sometimes the guys treat us, which is exceptionally generous since four people could really run up a tab."

At the end of the day, try a double date for what it is: a group of people hanging out. You might end up with new friends, a potential boo, or—at the very least—a funny story between you and your BFF.