An open letter to the three couples I saw shopping at the co-op today

Dear Couples Grocery Shopping Together This Morning at the Co-op,

I couldn’t help but notice you shopping today. You were walking around, figuring out the best version of each thing on your list, debating whether you already had this or that, and from time to time selecting an item and putting it in your shopping cart.

On the surface, this is exactly what I do when I go grocery shopping — which is precisely what I was doing this morning, by the way, really minding my own business and intent on my errand except when I may have overheard your conversation or happened to glance over. I couldn’t help but look because the thing about you guys is that you did all of the things anyone would do at the co-op, but you insisted on doing these things TOGETHER.

There you were, walking up and down each aisle, side by side, deep in conversation about whether the lentils were running out and if you need a new jar of honey.

So my reason for writing this letter is to ask you a simple question: Why??

I’m sorry, shopping couples, but I really don’t get it. Presumably you spend a good deal of time together already. You probably see each other every day. You eat together, you sleep together. I’m guessing you also live together. So do you really need to buy cashew butter together?

Though I’ve never been married or lived with a mate,  I’ve been in my share of relationships. Let me tell you: Not once have I woken up on a Sunday morning next to my sweetie and said, “Rise and shine, Pudding Cups. We’re going grocery shopping!!”

Really, I’m trying to understand. Is it because you are both so carefree and unfettered on the weekends that you have nothing better to do? Do you not have laundry or housecleaning or an overflowing toilet back home that one of you could take care of while the other picks up the food? If you do not have those things waiting at home, I will have to respectfully–but firmly–resent you. I would also like to know your secret to keeping a pristine and 100% functional house.

But I doubt that’s the case, as pretty much everyone I know in the D.C. area feels behind on housework and is up to his or her neck in social engagements, work, kick ball games, and/or community service activities.

Or perhaps you’re both so busy during the week that this is one rare chance to do something together? I can understand if that’s the case, but really there are more interesting and romantic activities out there. And actually, if you did this really crazy thing called dividing up your errands, you could get them done in half the time and spend the rest of the night in a scented bath together.

Maybe it’s that you’re both kind of spur-of-the-moment shoppers who don’t like to make lists and prefer to discuss if you need things… but if so, how do you survive? Even I, an incredibly disorganized and busy person, had managed to write down a list before I went into the store today. Or are you so unfamiliar with each others’ preferences that you both have to be present to decide what to buy? That would be sad. One would think that by the time you move in with your love, you know if your partner likes almond milk or soy.

See, I have tried to consider the possibilities, but none of them makes sense.

Shopping couples, I hope you will see fit to respond to this letter. I really am quite confused.

I would like to add that I’ve also seen you or people like you at the hardware store and Target, following each other around while you buy things like picture hooks and laundry detergent. These couple trips also confound me and I would appreciate if you could add an explanation of such actions to your response.

Thank you, and happy shopping.




8 thoughts on “An open letter to the three couples I saw shopping at the co-op today

  1. I have plenty to say about this. My partner and I almost ALWAYS go grocery shopping together–and to home depot and target, too. There are many reasons for this. Partially its about shared responsibility-if one person has to do the shopping (decision making, coupon finding, cost-benefit analyzing) then you both should–dishes or laundry are not really equivalent to grocery shopping. Also, many/most couples split the bill for groceries down the middle. That means not only should you be there with your debit card to share in costs, but you should also have a say in whether or not you really need to pick up soda this week, or just forget it to save a few bucks. In addition, some couples like spending that time together. To share in the planning of their weeks meals (especially if they both cook), to remind one another of what was/was not a successful purchase from last week (grapes that went uneaten, soup that was bland), to enjoy samples, and simply to have a buddy. A lot of roommates go to the grocery store together, and best friends go to the mall together, why should you and your honey be scrutinized for enjoying Whole Foods together?

  2. Thanks, folks, for the comments! It’s coming clear to me now… Here are some I got on Facebook:
    Janel: Maybe they just like each other’s company, or want to feel like a team. But I understand your point that things could get done quicker if errands were divied up.
    Sarah: I bet they’re new couples who are still fascinated by each other’s preferences or feel like they’re playing house or something
    Suzanne: I always go shopping with my ladyfriends. I just like grocery shopping.
    Suzanne: I agree with Jean.
    Tovah: Who DOESN’T go shopping with their partner on weekends? i really enjoy grocery shopping but it’s also a necessity and we often do it together, on Sundays. if i lived in a household with other individuals or couples, and we shared food, i can see why we might go shopping together sometimes. (that said, i kind of prefer when i go shopping for groceries while she does laundry – we get more done that way. but we’ve made more than a few excursions to whole foods together just for the fun of it.)
    Rhea has another say: Aha! So my division of labor idea is not THAT far out! Thanks again, everyone, and can I just say that one of the greatest provokers of sarcasm is jealousy? Do any of your partners have cute brothers?? I’ve always assumed my honeys shared my aversion to couple shopping — even the foodies. If someone really wanted to do it, I might give it a try.

  3. I agree with most people here– shopping together can be fun. Also, my husband and I are each other’s superegos when it comes to shopping. We rely on each other to stop each other from making unnecessary ridiculously expensive purchases that won’t make us happy in the end anyway.

  4. I feel a bit torn.
    I think it’d be fun to shop with your significant other for just one meal…if you were going back to your apartment to cook dinner.
    However, I can’t imagine doing an entire week’s worth of shopping together.

    When my twin was staying with me for 2 months, grocery shopping together was just dreadful (but I had to put up w/that b/c she had a car) 🙂

    What I really don’t understand is when girls take their boyfriends clothes shopping with them and the guys help them pick out an outfit!

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