When I was younger, I was so excited to go on this mysterious thing called a “date.” I imagined dressing up beforehand, the gentleman coming to the door with flowers, and then going to a nice restaurant for dinner which he, of course, paid for. Isn’t that what a date is?
And then I grew up, and after many years, I looked back on several different occasions that I had shared with guys in my life, and thought, “Wait a minute – was that a date?”
Turns out I’m not the only one who’s confused.
There are many girls that I talk to who also admit to not knowing if they’ve actually been on dates with different guys – due to our 21st-century ambiguous language.
“Let’s get coffee.”
“Do you want to see this movie with me?”
“We should go to ___________ together” (insert name of fun event)
Or the ever-popular and dreaded, “Let’s hang out.”
I get it. All of these are “safe” ways to spend time with someone you may or may not be interested in without having to really define what you’re doing. And in the event that the other person’s not interested in you, you can cover your tracks with, “Oh, we were just hanging out as friends.”
And sometimes it is great testing grounds to see if you would be interested in dating that person without the added pressure of the title “date” added to your time spent together.
But let’s just be honest about what makes something a date (because I have a serious suspicion that I’ve been on more dates than I realized at the time!):
If you are even remotely interested in someone as more than a friend and you are spending one-on-one time with them, I would consider that a date.
Because why else would you be spending time with them if you’re not interested in pursuing something more with them?
Unless … of course, you just enjoy their attention and it’s nice to have someone fill that space until a “real” boyfriend or girlfriend comes along. Which is a topic for another post entirely, but needless to say, I’m not a fan of that motivation.
So why have we, in the 21st-century, become so gun-shy about calling something what it is – when it seemed to be so black-and-white in our grandparents’ generation? Why can’t we just man up a little bit, and say, “I’m interested in you. Can I take you out on a date?”
Gentlemen, I do understand that it’s not an easy task. I’d probably feel like throwing up if I had the job of asking someone out. But on the receiving end of it, let me tell you right now that it is 110% more relieving to have a guy be upfront and honest about his intentions than to be kept dancing in the dark – does he like me, does he not? Am I just a friend or does he maybe like me as more than a friend?
Just an FYI, a girl can play mind games all day, and with the right lead-on’s from a guy, she can easily convince herself that the guy likes her. So if that’s not your intention, don’t make her think that way with any of your actions.
If it is your intention, don’t put her through the agonizing torture of trying to figure it out on her own. Just open your mouth and tell her (after you’ve prayed about it and sought wise counsel, of course!).
Maybe you don’t know yet whether or not she’s someone you’d like to date. That’s okay – but try to figure it out in group contexts, because as soon as you go one-on-one, you’re going to be communicating something anyway, whether you want to or not.
She is not a ping-pong ball to be tossed back and forth across the net of dateability – she is a sister in Christ with a vulnerable heart that might fall for attention, especially in one-on-one settings.
There are only a very few guys in my life whom I would “hang out” with and not fear the “is this a date or not,” question because our relationship is so sister/brotherly (although I have been known to call times with my brother “sister-brother dates”). But on the whole, I strongly believe it’s important to define your terms and stick with them to protect hearts and to eliminate ambiguity.
So yes – even if it’s casual, if you’re interested in her, I think you should still call it a date. “Let’s go on a coffee date,” “Let’s go on a movie date,” “Let’s go on a trip to the gas station date.”
A woman respects a man who is not afraid to be bold and clear about his motives. She is attracted to someone who is proactive about his plans, not reactive to “cover his tracks.” She feels cared for and worthy when he is honest and takes the time to plan asking her out.
On the other hand, she feels used when a guy simply “hangs out” with her over and over again with no clear plan for moving forward. She feels confused and anxious about trying to figure out what to call their “relationship” – which technically isn’t one because he isn’t taking the time to define it.
It might be a whole lot riskier and terrifying to be that upfront about your motivations and intentions, but in the end, you will be protecting yourself and her from a lot of unnecessary drama and hurt.
And protecting her heart? It’s the most gentlemanly thing you could do.