Let’s face it: dating is just another one of those necessary evils in life, like dental surgery or surprise parties. Unless you want to end up alone eating Hungry Man dinners in front of the TV, living a Norman Bates-esque existence, you’ve gotta suck it up and put yourself out there and sign up for OKCupid.
Going out with a cool, attractive person who may sleep with you (eventually) shouldn’t generally be equated with getting a molar extracted, but have you even been on a date lately? No? Maybe? You don’t even know?!
Yeah, that ambiguity right there is why dating is so annoying and painful and, basically, fucked up.
But you’re not alone. According to a study released last month, pretty much no one in the whole wide world (OK, America—same diff) knows if they’re even dating anyone anymore. The old can’t-get-much-clearer phrase “do you want to go out on a date with me?” that was frequented during our parents’ day has now been replaced with the vague “do you wanna hang?” or something just as elusive and obnoxious, with or without some stupid emoticon to confuse you even more. It’s a plague that’s been set on our dating life, which runs the risk of confusing “just having a good time” with serious dating material, or vice versa, resulting in people not getting together who should be together, or people who definitely should not be together, getting together, and just a shitload of hurt feelings.
What a fucking mess.
So I want to help out our present-day dating conundrum by categorizing what’s considered a real date and what’s not, and how to be cool about either situation. Hopefully we can end this ridiculous epidemic together.
Scenario #1: The new girl you befriended at softball invited you to hang out with her friends at the local pub.
Bottom line: she wants to get to know you more. Maybe it’s because she wants to jump your bones, or maybe it’s because she just enjoys your company as a bud and thinks you’d get along with her posse. Maybe she even thinks you’d be a good match for one of her friends and is feeling you out. Whatever the case may be, this is not a date. You may have smiled at each other that one time and felt something. She may have told you “nice throw!” with a wink. I don’t care. This is strictly a sussing out situation, so relax and enjoy yourself.
Scenario #2: You’re asking out your really good friend to watch a comedy show. Oh, yeah: she’s a woman. And you hang out. A lot.
I have a lot of guy friends. Most are legit platonic, while others may linger in that grey area of “will we ever be more than friends?” I say “may” because I never know. In the past I’ve been surprised by how many so-called guy “friends” who suddenly pulled a Houdini from my life because we never got romantic. I say “surprise” because I never knew they were harbouring “I wanna see you naked and more” feelings for me. So here, it is: if you want to date your friend, drop the pretence and ask her out on a real date. If it doesn’t go your way, at least you finally know and can get the hell outta dodgy territory. On the flip side, if you’re wondering whether your gal pal has feelings for you, I’d chillax for now. Why? Well, here’s a tip, fellas: if a woman wants you, she’ll let you know. Maybe it will take a month, a year, a decade, but she will (trust me). Have fun at the comedy show!
Verdict: Non-date (until one of you mans-up).
Scenario #3: You meet a cute girl at the bar. You drink, you chat, you invite her back to your place . . . then, you knock boots.
Even if the two of you really like each other (meaning you like each other more than in an “I wanna do stuff to your body” way, like in a “you’ve got a cool mind, too” way). Even if the two of you split a donut together the morning after. Even if you exchanged numbers afterwards and start texting hazy hellos and “’sup?” to each other. Even if you want to see her again . . . no, you were not on a date. And if you didn’t do any of that, and just banged, then yeah—you were definitely not on a date. Duh.
Verdict: Not a date, at all.
Scenario #4: You invite your hot co-worker out for drinks.
The two of you are single. You’ve flirted at work, laughing at each other’s dumb jokes and bonding over your mutual adoration for Peter Dinklage. Now you’re out in the real world, enjoying each other’s company, and things are getting touchy-feely. You pick up the tab and before bidding her good night (which might entail a kiss) you tell her, “this was fun. We should do it again sometime” and, you know, actually mean it. Right? OK. Yeah, dude, you were on a date. And before you go all “we were just hanging out,” lemme remind you of Urban Dictionary’s (the dictionary of all dictionaries) definition of a date: “Two people getting together for an activity when the possibility of romance between them has been broached but not ruled out. Since the exploration of romance is the purpose of a date, merely asking someone out on a date is sufficient to broach the subject.” Again, if you like her, let her know. A date doesn’t necessarily mean wedding bells and Netflix nights-in—only if you want it to.
Verdict: Totally a date.
Scenario #5: You’ve been sleeping with the same woman for a couple of weeks and she invites you to her friend’s housewarming party.
Though you’ve mainly just been bumping uglies with this woman, the two of you do have fun together when you’re watching a movie together on your couch or splitting a Bento box after a long sex sesh. But, aside from that, you’ve never ventured outside the perimeters of your apartment, so her inviting you out, to meet her friends nonetheless, is a pretty big deal. Whether or not she’s labelling this excursion a “date”, the truth is she’s exploring the possibility of you being more then FWBs. Depending on how you feel about that, you might want to pull the plug on your sexual arrangement (because that’s the gentleman thing to do), or you’ll go to the party. If you do end up going, just remember that, even if it’s not technically a date—similar to scenario #1—there is more at stake here than scenario #3.
Verdict: Sort of a date.
I hope this clears things up for y’all. And my last piece of advice would be this: let’s put on a moratorium on the term “hanging out” and just ask the people we want to date on a fucking date.
Brianne Hogan is a freelance writer based in Toronto, something of a humorist, and considers herself more Bridget Jones than Samantha Jones. Though she won’t reveal which parts, she will admit to liking emotionally unavailable men and drinking lots of wine. You can follow her on Twitter @briannehogan.