Monday, April 7, 2014

What is a "Date"?

A few months back, I overhead some speculation about what a "date" is.

It would seem that people have varying opinions on the matter and that there can easily be some confusion over the subject. 
What is a date?

A guy and a girl alone, hanging out?
A guy buying a girl dinner? 
A situation in which a guy and a girl are intentionally spending time alone together with an expressed romantic interest? 

If we go by the first definition, a lot of us have been on "dates" without ever thinking of them as such. In fact, these are the times when confusion probably most ensues. Perhaps one party thinks of the hang-out as a date, and the other thinks of it as a hang-out. Friends...nothing more. Perhaps one feels as though they've been very clear with their motivation for hanging out in such an isolated setting, or perhaps they think it's clear by the very nature of hanging alone. It's probably not clear, in case you were wondering. 

A guy buying a girl dinner? Perhaps this used to help establish intentions, but I don't think so anymore. Plus, in some scenarios, this can't even happen for a while (like, if you're long distance or work in the middle-of-nowhere or something like that). Dinner isn't required to begin a romantic relationship. Can it be something that causes one to wonder? Sure. Mostly because we're awesome at reading into things when it suits our interests. And, sometimes guys are just chivalrous by nature. I had one guy friend who I'd frequently hang out with who would often offer to buy me coffee, or food. I immediately wondered if it meant we were on a date or not... because, doesn't it? I figured out over time that it, most definitely, did not. 

I suppose I think the only way we can be sure if we're on a date is if it's been stated as such. Maybe it happens prior to the date, during it, or after... but, I think there has to be some establishing it as romantic in nature. Good 'ole Webster has defined it as such: 
an appointment to meet at a specified time; especially : a social engagement between two persons that often has a romantic character
So maybe it's not explicitly stated, and maybe he didn't "ask you out" in a way that made it obvious....but maybe he holds your hand and kisses you goodnight. It was probably a date. Maybe he didn't feel the need to dive into a conversation about the future and how many kids you both want to have, but he's interested in getting to know you better. Maybe that's all it needs to be for now.

Sometimes, as women, we're quick to want to define things. We're quick to want to know what something is, what it means, and how it might change our lives. We want to know if what just happened was a date so we can let our hearts rest for a moment. We let ourselves get anxious, confused, and weigh every possible option for where things could go from here. Because if it was a date then that means so.many.things.

But sometimes, we just need to chill out.
Sometimes we need to let it be whatever it is. Sometimes we have to trust that while a guy may or may not have romantic intentions with your hang-outs and with the dinner he just bought you, he'll eventually make it known. If it WAS a date, it shouldn't be long before he expresses that interest in you (especially if he's already taken the initiative to take you out or wants to keep hanging out frequently). If it WASN'T, then I think you'll get the hint. And, if after some time it's still unclear? Just ask. You may be dealing with a man who just loves spending time with you and thinks you're on the same page of friendship. Get the clarification you need so you can live your life in peace.

If your "social engagement" is clearly of a romantic nature (you know he likes you because he told you directly or he's very physically into you), it's probably safe to assume it's a date. If it's not clear (maybe he tells you that you're beautiful, buys you dinner, opens your doors, gives you a hug), it's probably safe to not assume anything just yet. Give it a little bit of time...and if there's nothing directly communicated to you, feel the freedom to ask. You don't need to spend months or years of your life having your heart dragged along, always wondering. Chances are, if he hasn't said anything after that long...he's probably not interested in you romantically.

And, don't be the girl who assumes that since he's physically into you that it means he's also emotionally into you. Because he kisses you every time you hang-out doesn't mean it's a date...especially if it's been a while. At this point, he is probably just taking advantage of you. Don't be quick to give any part of you away on these 'maybe' dates. Make sure you know his intentions and commitment levels before you go making decisions you'll most likely regret.

"Dates" are fairly ambiguous these days.
I think that's okay... at least initially. Give yourselves time to get to know each other without having to worry about all nitty-gritty details of what it means. And then, when it's time, be willing to have open, honest, necessary conversation.

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