The Ambiguity and Complications of Dating: Is it a date?

The Dating is Complicating at Times.  


It begins with not knowing if someone likes you.  Then it goes into who should contact who first. Then it goes into questioning what we are and where the relationship is going.

Overall, it seems as though the rules to dating is what makes it complicated.  There are no written laws and everyone seems to play by their own guidelines which further complicates things.  But nowadays, not only is dating complicated but it’s now confusing. No longer are we will able to tell if dates are real dates.  Dating is now ambiguous.

A survey illustrates this level of ambiguity: 69% are at least somewhat confused about whether an outing with someone they’re interested in is a date or not.

69% of people surveyed are at least somewhat confused about whether an outing with someone they're interested in is a date or not. Click To Tweet

What constitutes a date?

It seems like the definition of a date is where the ambiguity lies.  Within the same survey, 80% agree that a date is “a planned one-on-one hangout.”  Those results beg this question: If planned hangouts are what constitutes a date, then what is the definition of a hangout? This question is the reason why there is confusion.  We don’t know when we are on a date or when we are just hanging out.

I have come to realize that the activities you do when you are hanging out are the same as when you are on a date.  You can go out for dinner to hang out and you can go out for dinner on a date. You can go on “dates” with friends and family and you can go on dates with a love interest.  As a result, people are finding it hard to differentiate between the two.

Why is dating so confusing?

Knowing if a date is a date is confusing because too much thinking is put into it.  Most people view a date as too much of a commitment in time and emotional connection. They just want to have fun. They don’t want to worry about the pressure of committing to an exclusive relationship.  Overall, they believe that dates are for when you want to show special interest to a special person.  

So to avoid calling it a date, we ask if they want to hang out, meet up, or chill.  We wait for an event or party, say we are going to be there and ask if they want to meet you there.  We go to a restaurant in the vicinity of where they live and say we are at so and so then ask if they want to come.  Some of us don’t even call to ask, instead, we text, to make it even more ambiguous as to whether this meet up is a date.  It is not surprising that we use text to schedule a meet up to avoid it looking like a date since 84% of the people in the survey prefer being asked out via the phone. 

But guess what? In case you didn’t catch what I said it before, we do the same activities when we are hanging out like when we are going out on dates.  So why make dating so complicated, in addition to confusing?

Dating doesn’t have to be confusing

Psychotherapist, Rachel Sussman defines a date as “a planned event between two people”

If we look at the definition of a date, dating is not exclusive to two people who romantically like each other.  I plan events between myself and another person all the time. Whether it be with one of my friends, my family members or even my coworkers.  We schedule a time to meet and we hang out one-on-one. I have scheduled this through phone calls, texting and even emails. I have no problem calling those events dates and based on the survey, 80% of you would agree that they are too.  So why is it a big deal to call it a date when it’s with someone I am interested in? Ponder on that.

Essentially, dating and hanging out is the same thing.  So don’t over think it or think of it as anything more than that.  In the beginning stages of getting to know your love interest, you are not exclusive or committed to them and there shouldn’t be any pressure to do so.  

Dating and hanging out is the same thing. Click To Tweet

So just relax and enjoy getting to know the person.

I will even venture to say that you should plan as many events and one-on-one hang outs with as many people as you want until you are ready to commit to one person.  I say this knowing that sometimes dating multiple people can become complicated as well (the reason why is a whole other article) but if dating and hanging out are one in the same, then it should be possible to enjoy getting to know various people if we, of course, keep physical boundaries and keep an honest and open communication about your intentions.

What are your thoughts on dating? Why is it confusing? Does the way someone asks to make a difference in how you view the outing as a date? What is the reason why dating multiple people can be complicated?


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