When you spend time talking to someone and make a plan to meet up, is it a date? Is it just getting together to hang out? How do you know the difference?
A lot of people think that any get together between themselves and their newest interest is a date, but that isn’t necessarily the case. By calling every “date” – a meet-up with a love interest or someone you’re getting to know, in whichever sense – a date, there are certain connotations and expectations.
With a date, there comes the expectation that this might lead somewhere more than just hanging out with the person. There’s also confusion of what exactly is appropriate as an activity if this is not a date, but just a meet-up; you wouldn’t necessarily go to the movies or out to a nice restaurant with someone you have no interest in pursuing more than platonically, would you? Going bowling, on the other hand, or grabbing a quick drink (alcoholic or not) could be a more platonic activity and not have the same connotations.
Not every “date” is a date. I’ve been on many non-date activities where there was a mutual acknowledgement that it was not a date, that nothing more would come of the time spent together than a good time spent together with good conversation. On the other hand, I’ve met up with people who called it a date because they called every meet-up a date, regardless of their intentions.
The problem is there are expectations that might not be met. If one of the two people thinks it’s a date but the other doesn’t, and this fact comes up during their time together, things can get awkward very quickly. What do they expect from me? What do they mean by “date”? I don’t want them to get the wrong idea. Does that mean they’ll pay for me/I’m expected to pay for them? All these and more are questions that can arise because of a lack of communication.
It is possible for non-dates to turn into dates through a change in activity, i.e. going from getting a coffee to grabbing a meal in a dimly-lit restaurant, to a movie or mini-putting. Again, because certain activities have certain connotations, some are dates while others can simply be platonic.
Honestly, the best way to avoid confusion about whether your next meet-up is a date or not is to communicate. Talk about your intentions, expectations (in a non-creepy way), or like, straight up say “I want to take you out on a date.” If you’re still not sure while you’re actually doing whichever activity, pay attention to body language. It’s usually a good signal to whether the other person thinks it’s a date or not. And again, you can always just ask if you’re really clueless.