Not Alone Series: What Is a Date?


What is a date? How do you define “going on a date” with a man versus “hanging out” with him or “talking” to him? This topic was inspired by Arleen Spenceley’s recent date definition post.

It’s my first time hosting! Thank you for stopping by. I like to respond to other people’s posts when I’m writing my own. Enough English classes will do that to you. As the prompt mentions, I was inspired to suggest this topic when I was catching up on Arleen Spenceley’s blog. If you aren’t reading it, you should be. Read her book, too. I did; it was great. It’s for both men and women, in case you wondered.

Arleen doesn’t actually define dating in her post (like a good counselor, she offers options instead of telling you what to do), but she raises several points about how to define a date:

  • Both parties must agree that it’s a date for it to be one. If you are uncertain, ask. (I say: If you’re too shy or scared to ask, maybe you shouldn’t go.)
  • The tone can be serious or casual.
  • Where you go or who pays does not determine whether the meeting is a date.
  • There can be mutual romantic interest or just the possibility of it.
  • Long-term dating should have the goal of discerning marriage.

I agree with all of that. But I like clear definitions, so I wasn’t quite satisfied there.

When I was in undergrad, two groups of students a few years ahead of me had group blogs: one by Catholic girls and the other by Catholic guys. They had a cross-blog mini-series about what defines a date, but the boys’ post had the best initial thoughts and comment thread.

The main idea of that throwback thread is that there must be romantic interest and some sort of dedicated activity. I think that’s my bare-bones definition. One person can cook for the other at home (or you can cook together). You can go to dinner and a movie. You can go dancing. I hear people like to go hiking. The activity is not as important and the romantic intention. And that’s usually the sticking point.

I think these days, the struggle over defining the date comes from the struggle of indicating and assessing romantic interest. That’s where the post from my college friends wound up, if you read all the comments. I have had some excellent friend dates with my male friends. I’ve never been in a steady “hanging out” kind of situation (or, although I haven’t heard anyone say it in a while, had a guy I’m “talking to”), but I think that’s what I call a friend date. They would have been dates except that we were not romantically interested in each other. Yes, I’m aware that they could have been interested in me. But, as Arleen points out, you both have to agree that it’s a date for it to be one; the (potential) interest has to be mutual.

So the tough part here is figuring out whether someone is interested in you. If you believe men should do the asking, that means women have to let them know they’re going to say yes—and yes to a date, not just to “hanging out.” And that is a discussion for another day.

Next week’s topic: Flirting

Flirting is the special attention we give or receive from that special someone. Flirting is our way of showing the other person that we like them. There is verbal and non-verbal flirting, as well as appropriate vs. inappropriate flirting. What do you do or say to let your significant other/boyfriend know that you like him? What are ways that you like to be shown interest? What are the pros and cons of flirting?

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