You wouldn’t think you’d have to wonder, “Am I on a date or not?”, but I can’t count the number of times friends or I have talked about meeting up with someone and the inevitable “So… is it date?” comes out. I mean, it should be obvious, right? You should know whether or not it’s a romantic thing before you get there. But sometimes, even when you are there you’re still not sure.
Granted, online dating and dating apps makes things way more clear. You’re on there for dating or hooking up, and although I’ve heard of a few cases where people end up making friends on there, you’re almost certainly going on a date. But there are other ways to meet people that aren’t so transparent. Especially if you try to stick to offline dating, it can be difficult to tell if you’re actually going on a date or just meeting up.
If your main source of meeting people is through your friends and their friends, then things can be really ambiguous. That workmate you decide to go for lunch with, or the friend a friend you meet at party and decide to go see a film together, or, in my life, it’s usually a comedian you’ve gigged with a few times who you decide to get a drink with. What does any of that mean?
It’s just not always that easy to tell. So here are seven ways to help you figure it out:
1. Determine How Far Of A Break It is From The Norm
Is this someone you meet up with all the time? If it’s someone you meet for the first time and they suggest getting a drink, that’s a definitely a date-feel. But even if it’s a friend that you see a lot in a group, but they’re suddenly suggesting one-on-one activities that you wouldn’t normally do, there’s a good chance there’s a reason. If you’ve felt like you’ve had a flirtation before and there’s a change to your normal routine, it’s very date-y.
2. How Many Nerves Are Involved?
Very few of us are super smooth and relaxed when it comes to dating and romance. Although some people can suggest a date as easily as the Fonz, for most of us there’s going to be some nerves or awkwardness. If it feels like they’re nervous to ask you, or you feel nervous asking them, chances are it’s a date.
3. Talk To Your Mutual Friends
If it’s someone in your mutual friend group, capitalize on that. You can feel out from people you both know what they’ve said or what they were thinking. Chances are, if you share friends they’ll already be teasing you about it. And if it’s caught your friend’s attention, it’s probably a date.
4. What’s The Activity?
Another giveaway is what you’re doing. If it’s dinner and drinks, that normally signals a date. If it’s just a shared activity you’ve both geek-ed out over, that could be more of a friendly vibe, or could be a date. Pay attention to the context— if you’re doing something because neither of you had anyone else to go with, that doesn’t sound like you’re trying to date each other. But if you’re looking for excuses to spend time together, that does.
5. What’s The Setting?
If you’re not sure beforehand, don’t sweat it. I’ve honestly not been sure until I’ve shown up, and I’ve decided not to stress about it when that happens. But often when you arrive, you can tell pretty quickly. If it seems like they’ve put in effort for a romantic or special setting, or just put a lot of thought into it, chances are it’s a date. Although I’m more than happy to go on dates to my local, cheap pub (it’s where I feel most comfortable), usually if the person doesn’t know you they’ll try to up the game a little bit for a date.
6. Pay Attention To The Conversation Topics
Still not clear? The conversation topics will probably give you a clue. Although I’m all fart jokes and embarrassing stories, even on dates, they still manage to have a more ‘getting to know each other and past relationships’ vibe. If you get the feeling they’re trying to learn more about you in a romantic way, they probably are.
7. See How You Feel After
OK, so I’m a big believer in the idea that you can kind of decide if it was a date whenever you please, even if it’s after. There are obvious things that can happen, like kissing or touching or sex, that show you it was more than friendly, but it can also just determined by deciding whether you want to meet up again.
If the whole thing was a bit “meh”, you can think of it as a bad date, or just a really awkward coffee, or potentially a new friend. Getting too hyped up on whether or not it’s a date can mean that you’re not yourself, or set expectations high, so if you prefer to just feel out as you go along and see how you feel after the fact, that’s totally fine too.
Originally posted on Bustle