Relationship Tips

The Case for Making ‘Errand Dates’ a Thing With Every Important Person In Your Life

Photo: Getty Images / Tom Werner
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With only 24 hours in a day, most of which are spent working and sleeping, it's easy to feel as though free time is your most scarce resource. After factoring in everyday chores like grocery shopping, laundry, and cleaning your space, there’s hardly any time left for connecting with loved ones—and doing so is a key component of living a long, well life. The good news is it's possible to connect while still ticking items off your person-chore list. Cue: errand dates.

Recently, my friends and I started going on these errand dates, which basically just involves hanging out while we tackle items on our respective to-do lists. In the last three months, I’ve gone on close to 10 errand dates with my best friend, my roommate, and my sister. I’ve gone on an errand date to get groceries, another for a car wash, one to shop for furniture, and another to the gym. And I'm a big fan.

“When you're bringing your friends into things that you have to do already, it's a way to fit people into your schedule and not feel more overwhelmed and time impoverished, and also connect with your friend and show them that you're invested in them,” says psychologist and friendship expert Marisa Franco, PhD.

If you go with friends on errand dates, you're also less likely to feel guilty about how much time has passed since you last saw them (because it likely hasn't been so long as it might have otherwise been), and your schedule is likely freer for more leisure time as a result of taking them. “[Errand dates are] a guilt-free way for two people to make good use of their time and also spend time together,” says clinical psychologist Irene Levine, PhD, author of The Friendship Blog.

“[Errand dates are] a way to fit people into your schedule and not feel more overwhelmed and time impoverished." —friendship expert Marisa Franco, PhD

While errand dates are effective for staying on top of your responsibilities while still connecting to the people you love, they're not a one-side framework. That means, if you expect someone to run errands with you, you better be prepared to help them cross things off their list, too. But, if you cross-check your lists, you may be surprised to learn that they have several errands in common.

“It can be a win-win. This can be helpful for your friend, too,” says Dr. Franco. Whether you schedule your weekly grocery run together or you both need to run to the local nursery for some new seasonal plants, there's no reason a given errand can't shorten each of your to-do lists at once.

Going on an errand date with a potential romantic partner also comes with benefits.

I'm single, so I've only gone on errand dates with platonic people in my life. However, as relationship therapist Chanta Blue, LCSW, points out, going on an errand date with a potential romantic partner also comes with benefits.

“Errand dates are a [better] way to learn a lot more about your prospective partner's personality than a typical movie or dinner date,” says Blue. “There are more opportunities to observe their decision-making skills as they select items to buy. You can see their level of patience if there are extremely long lines or children running into them while y'all are at the store,” she adds.

All of that said, you want to be mindful of a few things if you’re considering asking someone out on an errand date: According to Dr. Levine, solely going on errand dates isn’t likely to produce desirable results of bringing you closer to someone if you don’t have a strong foundational relationship. For that reason, it might not be the best idea to ask someone on an errand date if you’re trying to start or build a relationship.

Blue adds that it’s also key to share your intentions with the other person, especially if they’re not pleased that you asked them to run errands together, otherwise they may feel lacking of importance in your life, when your intention is the opposite. “This way, they know the goal is that you want to make sure there is quality time carved out in your schedule for them,” says Blue.

Regardless of your situation, you stand to benefit from scheduling an errand date the next time you want to hang out with someone you love but feel like you have way too much to do.

Looking to hit refresh on your healthy habits this January? Check out our full 2022 ReNew Year program for expert-led plans for sustainable eating, exercise, and self-care routines. 

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