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I have an Ask Joy question for you. Can you do a blog post about guys that actually step up and clearly ask girls out (via the phone), pick them up, open the car door, pay for everything, drop them off, walk them to the door, call a few days later to go on a second date….and then the girls tell their friends they aren’t sure if it was a date or not? We have a spreading disease in my city.
Well, my friend, all of that sounds good and well, but when you bring your mom with you, it can leave your date a little confused. Leave Nancy at home. For now.
But seriously, it is always interesting to me to see how easily we misunderstand each other’s intentions. Rarely is either party trying to be unclear, but misunderstandings occur because we all communicate differently. To me, what you have described seems perfectly clear as a date; but like you said, there seems to be a “spreading disease” of misinterpretation where you live. Either something is in the water or people have different expectations of what a date is.
The sometimes “bold Joy” in me would ask the confused parties for clarification.
And, I’m just spitballin’ here, but a sure-fire way to prevent confusion would be to say, ‘Hey, I’d love to take you out on a date.‘ If she was still confused as to whether it was a date or not, I would recommend asking out a woman with a higher IQ.
Or, maybe she said she didn’t think it was a date because she wasn’t wanting it to be a date…and was playing dumb.
You could also go to one of your trusted female friends who knows the bewildered female(s) and ask, “Could you help me understand where I might not have been clear?”
If we don’t start seeking clarification and understanding our own expectations, we will end up labeling each other. “Guys are Jerks” or “Women are Crazy”—and labeling rarely gets us anywhere.
Trust me, I know.
I want to hear from everybody else that has either been on the side of, “not sure this was a date” or Jared’s side of, “I have no clue how I could have been more clear.”
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I’ve been on the side where I didn’t know if it was a date twice with the same guy. The first time it happened I was certain we were going to dinner and a movie as a group. But lo and behold it was just the two of us that night. He paid for everything and we did all those date type things from what Jared talked about, but I was so confused the whole night because I barely even knew the guy and he never asked me on a date. We just had said we wanted to get dinner with a group of friends. At the end of the night he said he wanted to do it again sometime and he really enjoyed it. I went inside my house and said, “I don’t even know what tonight was.” The next day e told one of our friends that he didn’t intend on taking me out on a date, but that it turned into one and he enjoyed it. He’s never told me this though. But I decided to let him process through it and decide. Later we went to dinner again but with a friend this time. At the end of the night he said he really was wanting it to just be us and that e wanted to take me dinner, just the two of us this time though. So we go to dinner, he pays, the waiter asks how long we’ve been together, he says just tonight, waiter says his congrats on a first date, and we drive around for an hour talking. He eventually drops me off at my house, but I had a weird feeling I needed to ask him if it was a date or not. So I did and he said no. WHAT?? He told me he just wants to get to know me more and see where things go, especially because it would be a long distance relationship. I live about 4 hours away and had just been visiting those two times to where he lives to see family and friends. So long story short, I was confused because to what seems like a date to any normal person wasn’t a date.
Wow. You win Melissa. That is confusion for sure! I would have loved to be sitting in the back seat listening to this. I’ve definitely had some similarly awkward “end of the night” convos. So sorry! Maybe he was trying to take the pressure off of things, but he ended up just making things confusing. VERY confusing.
aren’t dates supposed to be activities where two people get to know each other more and see where things go? Saying what he said is like saying, “No, this isn’t a sandwich, it’s two pieces of bread that have cheese, a deli meat, lettuce, tomato, mustard and mayo in between.”
I totally agree with Terry! Sounds like he was answering the question “Is this a relationship?”, not “is this a date.” It was clearly a date. If that’s not a date to him, I’d like to see what is! I also have been on several of these exact nondate dates. ba-humbug
Joy’s right. You win.
Communication is hard when we’re trying to order a bagel and coffee. It only gets worse when you throw more expectations and feelings into the mix about dating. I have been in — and put girls in — the same boat as Jared in the past and I think you have the only real answer: be explicit. It takes courage to ask a girl out, don’t take the lazy route and just assume that she’ll know because you said “go out” or “with me” or even “to the death star.” Be brave and strong and explicit, men.
I think that part of the reason that this happens is that people are actually afraid of all of the implications of being on a real date, so they leave themselves an ambiguous out — when things aren’t defined, you can say you meant it to be diffenent (the pursuer) or you assumed it wasn’t what it clearly was (the…uh pursuee?). It isn’t something that we do on purpose, but it feels like a self defense mechanism. Both guys and girls pull this move (Melissa’s post…wow) and the only way around the purposeless ambiguousness is a purposeful clarity.
When I met Brian H. at a student ministry leader retreat, he already knew my parents (I work at the same ministry they do). He and I talked a lot and then emailed a couple times before he wrote that he was praying for my family and then “I really enjoyed our visits at the Director’s retreat. I was thinking that there might be an opportunity over the holiday that, if you want to, we can connect up some afternoon/evening.”
Because I have cool parents (my college friends used to come visit them more than me), I wasn’t sure whether he intended to hang with my parents and I or to take me on a date. I replied that it sounded fun and told him the days I was free, then mentioned I didn’t know my parents’ schedule. I figured he’d ask me to check if he really wanted to see them. He didn’t ask, so I took it as a date (and found out much later it was what he intended).
We’re getting married June 1.
A few of us had this very conversation the other night. Two highlights:
First: Every girl in the room admitted they had done that before (knew in their heart it was a date yet told someone else it wasn’t). Why? Several different reasons came up. (If he doesn’t call again I wasn’t rejected. If I don’t want a second date I’m not rejecting him. I don’t want to fuel the gossip vine. I didn’t want it to be a big deal unless I knew my heart was in it, etc.)
Second: We all agreed that at the end of the day, to some extent, why not call it a “date” regardless of most circumstances? If two single people of the opposite sex are spending time together alone call it what it is? If a “date” is in essence two people getting to know each other better, that’s exactly what you’re doing (regardless of your long-term intentions, initial interest, what you call it, etc.) Unless it’s clearly a working business lunch, why should anyone be afraid to use the word date? So that’s where the real question of the conversation came up: where does this fear come from of calling something a date? Is our casual Christian culture or our “hangout/hook-up” culture making people afraid to call a spade a spade? Are we afraid of responsibility (implying that you should be more intentional with someone if you use the word “date” than if you just “hang out”)?
I like your second point. I think it really comes down to our definition of “date.” I think for me a date is more then just two people hanging out getting to know each other better. Whenever I hang out with someone one-on-one I’m generally doing it because I enjoy their company and therefore I want to get to know them better. A date to me has more intentionality behind it. I think our generation (I’m assuming you’re a millennial) is doing a much better job of having healthy cross-sex friendships then generations before us. If every time I hung out with a guy one-on-one I was on a date, that just seems like a bit of over kill and takes the “specialness” out of a date for me. But maybe that’s just me 🙂
I think Rob and Terry are right.
(Thanks, Rob and Terry, for taking almost all my things to say.)
“Date” has this 1950s court-and-spark seriousness attached to it, which makes it a big reveal if either party goes ahead and calls the two-person-activity what it is. “Ooh, you went on a DATE!”
I’ve started calling all my two-people-opposite-sex outings dates, even if I feel less than serious about the guy. Because it’s more fun. And it makes me feel like a lady. And hopefully it makes the dude feel like a man. If either of us gets scared off by the word, neither of us deserve to go out sans chaperones.
My relationship with my husband started out in vague territory. Let me put it this way, he said “I love you” before he ever said “I like you”! That’s not to say that he didn’t like me, he just didn’t think to say it.
Backing up, the first few times we hung out, there was no use of the word “date” or “like” or any of the normal verbal cues. We had been communicating online to make our plans, and he didn’t even ask for my phone number until I hinted that he might need it. We started dating in mid-November, and that Thanksgiving I went away to visit a friend. I checked Facebook while I was gone, to see that he had changed his relationship status from “Single” to nothing. All his friends reacted, wanting to know what was going on, since he had never been non-single before. The thing is, he did this before he talked to me about it, and so it made me upset.
The key detail here of course is that he had never dated before, so he didn’t know how to handle all of these little relationship things, like saying “I like you. Will you go on a date with me?” or DTRs (define the relationship conversations).
That didn’t stop the relationship though. He met my parents that Christmas and we held hands for the first time and said I love you, and now we’ve been married for over 3 years and I still love him so much.
I did hold it against him though. Even after we were married I would tell people, with a laugh and a smile, that he hadn’t done all these basic relationship things, and how it had confused me. After a while, my husband realized that I kept bringing it up because I had felt hurt (even I hadn’t fully realized that’s what was going on). He apologized, and I forgave him. Then he asked me to stop bringing it up, because it hurt him for me to embarrass him like that.
There are probably some lessons in there for me, like not worrying too much when my preferred definitions don’t line up with reality and being honest with myself about pain and disappointment. The big one though is that my husband’s character is more important than formalities. I’m glad I didn’t hold that against him because I like being married to him. 🙂
I’m all about just getting out in the open. Be honest and tell them how you feel or ask them how they feel. It just makes things easier. Maybe a little awkward for a while (not that I’ve personally experienced this) :), but in the end you have your answers….hopefully.
My first reaction to this? It’s been so long since a date that I probably wouldn’t know what it was like these days 😉
But I also agree with Rob
When I was in college, I accidentally dated a guy for most of the summer. I just thought we were hanging out with friends and he just liked driving! Anytime we hung out by ourselves, it was always to go get ice cream. I just thought he liked ice cream as much as I did….which was a lot. (Lay off me, I’m starving!) Eventually I met a friend of his morher’s who said, “oh you’re Josh’s girlfriend! I’ve heard so much about you!” I was totally shocked. Needless to say, I started buying my own ice cream and eating it at home, by myself, straight out of the carton.
haha love this! and it sounds like something I would totally fall into. Clearly we need more open and honest communication!
Two summers ago, an acquaintance (really, we’d only hung out in groups maybe 3 times in the past year, and he lived out of town) I knew texted me his number when I announced in Facebook that I had lost all my numbers. He then periodically would randomly text me throughout the summer to say hey or ask how my move has gone since I had just moved to the town where he had gone to college. I thought he was being friendly, but part of me wondered if it was more. At the end of the summer he came into town and asked if I wanted to grab lunch. Thinking it was a friends thing, I told him I was sort of short on cash, so I could meet him somewhere with my brown bag or swipe him into the college dining hall. He suggested he buy me lunch and pick me up from campus to do so. Because I had no feelings for the guy and often go to lunch with friends of all genders, I didn’t think too much of it, but I still sort of wondered if I was about to accidentally go on a date. He picked me up (got out of the car and hugged me), we went to McAlister’s, talked, then he dropped me off. The next few months he continued to randomly text me. I finally asked him via text what his intentions were since we sort of weren’t actually “friends.” He assured me he just wanted a Christian sister friendship and that he hated “pseudo-dating”, but the texts stopped after that.
My now boyfriend of almost 9 months, on the other hand, called me and said, “I’d like to take you on a date,” when he asked me out, which was awesome! I was so thankful for his courage and straightforwardness of that. I later told him about the previous story, to which he replied, “Oh, that was SO a date. He was probably just trying to decide if he really wanted to pursue you more or not, but that was a date.”
So there you go! A story of both confusion and of straight up explicit asking!
I’ve had a few relationships with guys that were ambiguous. We would always somehow end up hanging out one-on-one, or he’d call and say he was hungry, did I want to go eat?, etc. Because I was interested, I always said yes without asking him to be clear. Looking back, I can see that those guys liked my companionship but didn’t want to date me. When it happened again that a guy just started showing up where I was, casually “hanging out” for several weeks, I told him that didn’t work for me. It was a total risk and I didn’t want to be the one who said something first, but I told him that his actions were confusing and if he wanted to date me, he should say so. I said that I didn’t want to let myself fall for another man who only wanted my friendship. So, he said he would think about it! Turns out, he didn’t believe in dating until he knew the one he wanted to marry. But I didn’t believe in marrying until you dated. So, we had to compromise. Two weeks later, he said he wanted to date AND marry me. He gave me a ring six months later, but if you ask him when we got engaged, he will say the date he asked me to date him. The point is, the only variable about whether or not it’s a “date” is whether he or she thinks it is. I really don’t think we can examine things like opening doors, paying, etc. because some nice guys will do that for anyone. In my experience, it just has to be explicitly said: This is a date. (Now that we have a toddler and a baby, sometimes we have my parents watch the kids and our date is a Costco run for diapers and a hot dog.) But at least I know where I stand! 🙂
i invited a guy to a NYE party last year, he was a friend with no plans, he came, we had fun. I started realizing I kind of was into him, he lived far away and most of our friendship existed via email, so I emailed him to say “that was really fun, but I wasn’t sure if it was a date or not,” thinking I was giving him opportunity to clarify his thought. He wrote back “I wasn’t sure if it was either.” I’m still confused.
Well, I’m a pretty direct person and words mean a lot to me so most of my confusion in the past has been when the words used to “ask me out” don’t equal “date” to me. For example if I’m friends with a guy and he asks me to “hang out” or go somewhere with him, even if we’re doing something together one on one, I don’t see that as a date. If he were to say, would you like to “go out” or go on a “date” then I get where he’s headed with this lol
Last year one of my good guy friends asked me to go with him to grab some snacks at the grocery store before we went over to a friends house to watch a movie. He offered to pick me up at my house and when he arrived he opened the car door for me. I thought something was a little off, but I tried not to think too much of it, because after all, we were just going to the grocery store! On our way to the store he asked if I wanted to stop by Starbucks to get some coffee. I said sure. Who in their right mind turns down a caramel macchiato, ever! Low and behold, he bought my coffee for me. I didn’t think too much of that either, because after all, I pay for my friends sometimes when I invite them to get coffee with me. From there we went to the store, bought some chips, dip, and ice cream and headed to our friends’ apartment. When he parked the car he turned to me and said, “I had a lot of fun with you tonight and would love to take you out again, so be on the lookout for that.”
You mean there’s a city where guys actually pick up the phone, pick you up, open doors, pay for you and then call again?? I want to move to Jared’s city.
Jared, it seems to me that you have been very clear.
The epidemic in my city seems to be texting (never calling), meeting at a set location, paying separately, then never contacting the girl again.
The circumstances: A friend heard I was struggling with some things so he text messaged me and asked if we could eat dinner at the dining hall, meeting at the foot of the stairs by my dorm. So we had dinner together there. At dinner, he asked what I was doing Saturday night. After I told him my schedule he asked if I would like to go to dinner at a restaurant where he would pay, and then take me to the school play afterwards, also paying for my ticket. I asked him, “Is this a date?” He said, “No. It’s just two friends spending time together, and if I get to know you better in the process than so be it.” [I told my brother and he said it was a date.] My friend text messaged me days later to meet in a study area. Here we talked about what we would be wearing and where he would be picking me up at what time. The evening followed as planned, he opened my car door for me once, and at the end of the night he walked me to the door of my dorm. Here he shook my hand (odd) and then gave me a hug (awkward). We haven’t ever hung out one-on-one since or before any of that. Therefore I believe in his mind it wasn’t a date. But in the mind of my brother and my friends and some others who commented on this blog it falls under the classification of a date. And it was a date, but it wasn’t a romantic one, and to think it was is just weird. So this is an example of a “friend-date.” What didn’t work is thinking that it was more than a “friend-date” at the remarks of family and friends, because it made me nervous because I didn’t think of this guy as more than a friend. What would have worked is if he said, “Yes, obviously this is a date. (which is what he did NOT say) But I only intend to treat you as a lady, I am asking for nothing more.” (which is kind of what he said)
My senior year of high school, I broke up with my abusive boyfriend right before prom. I was glad to be free of him, but I did NOT want to go to my senior prom alone. So, I ended up asking this guy I had met a few times before at chorus events if he would go with me…as a friend. I wrote him a not that said “Will you go to prom with me, as friends?” with little yes and no check boxes. All was good, except for the fact that he turned out to be a lunatic. He came to a choir practice with me before prom, and kissed me completely without warning afterwards. I told him that that was not okay, and thought all would be good again. Nope! After after-prom, I drive him home and kind of halfway fell asleep in his driveway. (It was like 5:30 in the morning.) When I “came to,” he was kissing me and trying to take his pants off. Needless to say, I told him to get out of my car. We didn’t speak for like twos this afterward, and when he finally texted me, he apologized for his silence but he had never “been with someone that way” and it “scared him.” Um…you making out with my half-conscious self scared me, how about that? So, lesson learned, do not take crazy people to prom, no matter how desperate you are for a date.
I didn’t realize that our first date was a date. We were both attending college, he was working in the student library.
I had gone in in the morning, and when I saw him he asked if I had eaten. I replied no I hadn’t, but I have a class to go to. He told me what time he would be off, And suggested that I come back by the library, and we would go grab a bite. We went to a nearby restaurant and had a late lunch together. It was a wonderful afternoon, the first of many to come. He says it was a date, I thought we were sharing food. It seemed like a small insignificant thing at a time, no looking back I wonder if he was hurt by that?