Just imagine you're not getting on as well as you should with your partner.
You can never agree on anything. So you suggest a date night, a chance out to mull things over.
You end up having a huge row about the date itself, about when you should go out. Your friends sigh and say that proves it - the relationship is doomed, and there's not much to do about it.
Perhaps it's not quite like that. President Obama and the Republicans in Congress weren't really trying to patch things up in the first place.
But Mr Obama is pitching his big economic speech as a chance for agreement between the two parties.
When he suggested making it next Wednesday night the speaker of the house objected. There wasn't time to do the security properly, he said.
It may not have escaped John Boehner's notice that the president would eclipse the Republican presidential debate and TV viewers would be forced to choose between them.
So the president agreed to move it to Thursday. Now, depending on timing, he may be overshadowed by the first big football game of the season.
I'll leave it to partisans to decide who looks childish. Many outside Washington will feel both sides merit a clip around the ear, and will despair of any agreement on the substance.
All politicians agree creating jobs comes before anything else. Except political jockeying and their own egos.