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I’ve had several conversations in the last few months about what defines a date — mostly how it’s confusing and sometimes how as a girl, I don’t know if I’m actually on a date. During one conversation, my friend started off with, “We went to a concert, but I’m not sure it was actually a date or if we just ended up hanging out one-on-one.” And while that sounds a bit dramatic, it’s a common sentiment among my 20-something friends, especially when you factor in things like friendlationships, texting, Facebook and just general confusion about what you actually call time spent getting to know someone of the opposite gender. Is it courting, dating, being intentional ... or some sort of hybrid of all three?
From where I sit, I’m advocating for bringing back the traditional dinner date. In a world of ambiguous coffee dates and endless nights of group hang-outs, it’s nice when a guy cuts through all the confusion and asks a girl on a proper date. I appreciate it when a guy is upfront about letting me know what he’s thinking so that there’s not an awkward moment when the check comes and I’m wondering if I should offer to pay. (Next week I’ll tackle the whole who should pay on a first date question.)
Because of all the ambiguity, a guy stands out — in a good way — when he calls and says something like, “I’d like to get to know you better. Can I take you to dinner?” It’s clear that it’s going to be a date and that there’s interest in spending time together with a purpose. Maybe we’ll hit it off and go out again, or maybe we won’t. But either way, at least it’s clear that a guy is interested in seeing which it will be.
Texting, Facebooking and emailing are all fine, but asking a girl out on a date through these methods usually adds another layer of complication and more room for ambiguity or miscommunication. All the online social media stuff is a great way to initially get to know someone and build a friendship, but eventually, if there’s interest in something more, it has to move to real world, face-to-face communication. And when it comes to dating, the more clarity, the better. Getting to know someone seems to work best when you can read facial expression, tone and body language.
I realize that the whole is-it-a-date and who-should-initiate question is more complicated than a short blog post, but in my experience, most girls appreciate a guy who asks a girl to dinner, lets her know it’s a date, and clearly communicates that from the beginning. In a world where confusion and mixed signals from guys and girls can feel like the norm, any time intentions are clearly communicated, it only adds to the attraction if it already exists. And if the girl isn’t interested in going out on a date, at least she knows what was being asked and can graciously thank the guy for his invitation anyway.
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"If it quacks like a duck..."
If it's a date, just call it that. Why shy away from the term? Oh, I know why. Because once you use the term 'date' there are so many unspoken inferences and expectations, especially in the Christian realm. Things like, "Do we have to get married within a year?" , "Am I his boyfriend now and do we have to be exclusive?", and "If we stop going on these 'dates' is he breaking up with me?"
Part of the reason why this happens is that guys who ask directly are either shot down without tact or worse, given an ambiguous answer which is a backhanded way of refusing him. Things such as making lame excuses, saying "I'm not really ready for any relationships right now", or ignoring him altogether.
As a result, we use side-stepping statements and questions like, "Let me know if you'd like to hang out sometime", "Hey, I'm going to the movies with some friends; I'd really like it you came along", because it might sound more palatable and less threatening to women.
Guys and girls do this simply because the direct approach often doesn't work among young adults.
"Because of all the ambiguity, a guy stands out — in a good way — when he calls and says something like, 'I’d like to get to know you better. Can I take you to dinner?'"
Haha - Ironically, I used this exact line with a woman once (it was actually, "I really enjoyed meeting you the other day and would like to get to know you better; would you like to go to X with me on Friday?). She still didn't realize it was a date...
I think MikeTime makes some good points. The expectations placed on a "date" by many women have made guys very nervous about clearly stating their intentions if they are not really sure how they feel about a girl.
So funny - I just blogged about this on my blog. My now-husband was very clear on our first date that it was a date (and it was dinner! but I don't think it has to be), but then he got a little vague for a couple of other instances/get togethers/dates/what is this anyway? As a woman, I so appreciated the clarity! And as a man, I think he did too. He knew that I wasn't saying yes to dinner. Or saying yes to a "just a friend and always will be". He knew that I was saying yes to an actual date!
MikeTime: If she's interested, a direct approach is best. If she's not interested, why do you still want to take her out?
MrsAshleyTOF you said:
"If she's interested, a direct approach is best. If she's not interested, why do you still want to take her out?"
Because 90% of the time a guy DOESN'T know if she's interested or not. It's why we constantly tell guys to "take a chance" and ask her out. If you're sure she'll say yes, where's the risk? And very rarely will a girl be so direct and say she's interested in a a guy. The most he'll get is hints or maybe something through her friends. But as many guys can attest to, just because it SEEMS like she's interested does not make it so. He may be in the dreaded "friends zone".
"... it’s nice when a guy cuts through all the confusion and asks a girl on a proper date. I appreciate it when a guy is upfront ... Because of all the ambiguity, a guy stands out — in a good way — ... when he ... says ... It's clear that it’s going to be a date. Texting, Facebooking and emailing are all fine, but asking a girl out on a date through these methods usually adds another layer of complication and more room for ambiguity or miscommunication."
I recently asked a friend out on a date in person after knowing her for over a year, and even though she respectfully declined, she did say that she appreciated my courage for asking her out in person since I was appalled when she explained to me that "men" usually ask women out via Facebook these days. Even though asking the girl out did not guarantee a date, I was grateful for the opportunity, courage, and wisdom Christ gave me ... For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgement. (2 Timothy 1:7 HCSB)
"...she did say that she appreciated my courage for asking her out in person..."
FEAR NO SUSAN GLENN!
MikeTime, have you read "How to Win a Woman's Heart" by Joshua Rogers? He says,
"Every woman likes a man who is interesting, but a healthy woman will only be drawn to a man who is also interested. If you're just showing up in a woman's life to take her for a friendly test drive, she will sense it, and she won't feel completely safe. So figure out if you're drawn to her before you start pursuing. It will go a long way toward helping her trust you.
"I'm not saying you can't make a move until you've figured out you want to marry her. I'm just saying you need to evaluate what you know about her and decide whether there's something about her that intrigues you. If there isn't, no need to waste her time. But if there is, don't just sit on your hands and hope she figures it out."
MikeTime: Dude. Basically what you're saying is that you refuse to ask women out because you're afraid they'll say no. How do you expect us to feel sorry for you? You're proving Ashley's point! If you're going out on a "sneaky date" with a girl who wouldn't actually want to go on a REAL date with you, what's the point? You're wasting your own time and hers! You're basically saying that the reason you like being ambiguous is because that lets you go out on pretend-dates with girls who don't actually want anything romantic with you.
I was simply pointing out why some men don't use the "D" word and why they aren't direct. If they are direct and ask, "Will you go out on a date with me?" many times they will say 'No' or use a lame excuse, or just pretend they didn't hear him, etc.
And who said *I* was the one being ambiguous. I'm just pointing out WHY things are what they are. Point is that directness doesn't work as often as people say they do.
"...she appreciated my courage for asking her out in person since I was appalled when she explained to me that "men" usually ask women out via Facebook these days."
I wouldn't be so quick to say this is a courage issue. There are any number of reasons that men would use email or Facebook over asking someone in person. For example, it doesn't put the woman on the spot as much, doesn't have a bunch of other people nearby listening or watching to make everything that much more awkward, and often (though not always) results in more direct answers instead of women giving false numbers/being indefinitely busy/etc and not actually saying no just to get out of an uncomfortable conversation easier.
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comment.
"I wouldn't be so quick to say this is a courage issue."
I did not say this is a courage issue.
As a guy, my own personal boundaries make this an easy one. If I have deliberately organised to spend any significant amount of one on one time with you, a girl who is not my relative, then it’s a date, end of story. Even if it’s not deliberately organised, most of the time I try to avoid being alone one on one with a girl unless it’s a date or I want to ask her out on a date.
Some line-ball clarifications: If I’ve had to stop driving because of an injury and had to ask for a ride, generally not a date, since it wasn’t deliberately organised, I really just need a ride. If I then accidentally leave my phone in your car and have to swing by your work to pick it up, not a date, I really did just accidentally leave my phone in your car. (Seriously, these really did happen to me with a girl I’d been on a date with previously.) If you’re my grandma, not a date. If we’re chilling out in some spare time on a mission trip and end up alone, not a date. (I’m not cool enough to convince your friends to disappear without them telling you about it.) If I ask to spend some time alone with you during spare time on a mission trip, definite attempted date.
A comment from MrsAshleyTOF in a subsequent thread has realised I need to emphasise a caveat to my own comment.
The definition and social construct of dating in my church environment in Australia (vs. other denominations in Aus, other cities in Aus, non-Christian circles in Aus, or any sort of dating in any other church, place or country, esp. the US) is potentially very different. Though a lot of the same language seems to be used, I suspect some subtle differences in worldviews, beliefs, backgrounds and definitions mean that my comment above is probably easily misunderstood, and I apologise in advance!
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