Five Ways to Tell if it’s a Date or a Hangout

Written by Liz Britton

“Do you see us dating more seriously in the future?”

I nearly spat out my bite of pizza when I got that text from my closest male friend. I blinked down at the text in confusion. Where the heck had that come from? And more importantly, why didn’t this guy have enough backbone to ask this question to my face?

The use of the words “dating more seriously” also implied that we were, in fact, dating. Which, according to my horrified expression and pizza dropped from shock on the floor, I thought we were just ‘hanging out’.

I felt irritation bubble up deep inside of me. Again? This was happening to me again? I have dealt with male friends in the past popping up out of nowhere with confessions of love for me, but I have always been confused: I thought that we were just hanging out.

Why did they always approach me thinking that we had been dating? When had the signals been so confusing? With all of their casual hit-ups on the phone and last-minute
hang out plans to watch Netflix, I was so turned around that I couldn’t even give them a well-thought out answer.

How had every single one of my guy friends in the past just automatically assumed that we were dating? I had always tried to give an impression that I was a) not interested in them b) we were strictly friends and c) there was no chemistry between the two of us.

Did watching action flicks with guy friends count as a date? Did going dutch on a meal mean we were actually dating? When someone wouldn’t pull a move, were they really just shy or were we just hanging out?

And that’s when it hit me: I have no idea what the difference between a hang out and a date is.

According to New York Times, courtship is dead. More and more people are approaching romance casually. The good old days of calling someone to actually ask them out to a nice restaurant are dwindling. Who needs to pick up the phone and call someone to ask them out when you can just Facebook message, text, email or tweet them instead?

Take Mary (Drew Barrymore) from He’s Just Not that Into You for example. After meeting a man on MySpace (does anyone use that anymore?), she is overwhelmed by the lack of proper communication in their exchanges. What has happened to dating?

“I had this guy leave me a voice mail at work so I called him at home and then he e-mailed me to my Blackberry and so I texted to his cell and then he e-mailed me to my home account and the whole thing just got out of control. And I miss the days when you had one phone number and one answering machine and that one answering machine has one cassette tape and that one cassette tape either had a message from a guy or it didn’t. And now you just have to go around checking all these different portals just to get rejected by seven different technologies. It’s exhausting.”

Does a date require someone to pick up the phone and call you? Or does a casual text now count as asking someone out?

From Huffington Post’s article “How to Tell if You’re on a Date”

And on the actual date (or hangout or whatever this is), what makes it official? Does one person pay for the meal or the movie ticket? Is there some verbal code that needs to be cracked? Like, is the way they say “hello” an indicator or something?

Huffington Post does not believe that there is a way to tell, but the investigative writer in me refuses to believe that. Match.com, however, says that there are a few ways you can tell whether or not you are on a date.

If one person pays, then it is a date, but if you go dutch, then it is a hang out. If he or she goes for their wallet before you even see the waiter, that’s a huge indicator that you are on a date.

“At the risk of setting the Women’s Movement back decades, when a man is interested in you becoming more than just his friend, he will always pay the check on your first date,” relationship expert Jennifer Bidwell says. “A guy who’s trying to woo and impress you will want to seem chivalrous and manly. Paying for your date is one way he can do that.”

If a guy or girl asks you out last-minute, then it’s most likely either a hang out  or a booty call. Someone who is interested in you as a potential love interest will not ask you to come over late at night to “watch movies” (we all know what that means). Someone who wants you in their life will actually have a plan. They will set a time and a place and give you ample time to prepare for the date.

When they ask you out, they will appear nervous. With technology being so vast and giving people new ways to ask people out on dates, it is hard to figure out whether someone is nervous or not (nervousness does not come across via text very well). I asked a man out recently and was so nervous that I made the plans via text in order to see if he was interested in me or not (I know – I need to get it together and brave the ever daunting “first phone call”). Regardless, I was nervous and I am definitely interested.

From my own experiences (and fails), I also came up with a few ways to tell whether or not you are just hanging out or are on an actual date.

Physical contact will happen. If a guy or girl is interested in you, they will try to initiate contact with you. Whether it’s a hand on the knee or a purposeful brushing of the fingers as they hand you an alcoholic beverage, someone interested in you will attempt to show their interest in a physical manner. If, by the end of the evening (or afternoon, or whenever you have this get together), they have not attempted to hold your hand or touch you in any way, keep it moving. This so-called date is officially a hangout.

If it’s not a date, they will ask “Do you want to hang out?”. I understand shyness. Really, I do. As I mentioned before, the last guy I asked out made me so nervous that I had to text him in order to ask him out. What’s even worse: I had to draft the text a few times in a notebook and then spent a few hours debating whether or not I should actually go through with it. My text, mind you, never mentioned the words “hang out”.

Any hint of the words “hangout”  should make you want to run in the opposite direction. If you’re looking for a date, and they say “let’s hang out,” get out of there fast. They are not looking to commit and they are not looking to date you properly.

This isn’t to say that hanging out with a guy or a girl can’t lead to dating later in the future. But if they aren’t upfront with their intentions, getting more serious could mean mission impossible for the two of you.

If you have any more ways to figure out if it’s a date or a hangout, please leave a comment and feel free to discuss below.

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