Is three always a crowd? Find out...

It can be, at least in certain situations. Here's my take:

I feel I get to know someone better on a one-to-one basis. Adding a third person to the equation can change the dynamics of the encounter considerably.

A third person brings their own opinions and idiosyncrasies into the mix, some of which you may not find agreeable.

That's not to say that three or four close friends can't have a great night out. They certainly can.

But when you're getting to know someone, bringing another person into the picture can hamper your ability to get to know him or her on a more personal level.

This also happens when you already know the person and would rather talk about certain things you both like and typically talk about -- whether sports, the news, or celebrity gossip.

I've found that when it's a party of two, both people open up in ways they wouldn't with other people around, or they just act differently.

For example, when we first started dating, I never expected my now-wife to talk about the same things over lunch as she would if her niece, mom, or friend were to tag along.

In that case, I would anticipate the conversation centering on more than just college and movies; she'd likely discuss toys, a trip to the mall she and her mom had been planning, or a funny moment she shared with her friend as kids.

Obviously, you'd expect the third person to want to get a word in edgewise, which can ultimately steer the conversation in a totally different direction.

If two of the people like talking politics but the third doesn't, it can make for some pretty awkward moments. What's worse, a person can wind up feeling left out.

Not to mention that having a third or forth person on hand invites more noise and potential conflict. People can come to blows over the most minute things.

I always try to limit the number of friends to one (or two) per outing. Now, big groups? No thanks. Some people can become awfully dopey in the presence of others they know.

Bottom line: If you feel like getting to know someone or wish to discuss personal matters with them, a one-on-one meeting usually works best. Sometimes, three or four really is a crowd.

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