Monday, February 2, 2009

What defines a date?

Friday, I went out with a young man I've known for some time now. I paid for our first date and we both agreed we should spend more time together. A few weeks ago, I started mentioning it again, saying "We should play soon." He'd nod his head enthusiastically, and we finally arranged to meet at a local movie theater.

He arrived first and had already purchased tickets. When I arrived, he offered treats, which, in the several years I've been dating, I don't know if I've ever been offered before. I actually stumbled over my delivery of what I would like, but with popcorn, candy, and drinks in hand we enjoyed the film.

He didn't make any moves. Nor did I. We didn't even hug goodnight. I think I waved. Odd.

Now, he and I have never used the words "date" or "go out" to define our social engagements. It was always "play" or "get together". However, when he ultimately paid for the whole thing, and it was just the two of us, I'm pretty sure Friday was a date.

According to dictionary. com, a date (such as the ones we discuss here) can be defined in one of two ways:

a social appointment, engagement, or occasion arranged beforehand with another person

a person with whom one has such a social appointment or engagement

Colloquially, defines it thusly
Two people getting together for an activity when the possibility of romance between them has been broached but not ruled out. Since the exploration of romance is the purpose of a date, merely asking someone out on a date is sufficient to broach the subject. Dates may or not continue once a couple have entered into a romantic relationship. The word "date" may be used to identify a get together between two people not romantically involved, but this usage is meant to convey irony, since such a meeting is not a date in the true sense of the word.

A lost art, virtually nonexistent in the 21st Century. Replaced by casual meetings for lunch or coffee where the bill is dutch and parties wear jeans.

I'm rather fond of the last definition myself. Whenever I hint to a guy I'm interested in that I'm interested in going on a date, I either mention a specific activity (i.e. "I heard that movie was great! I've really wanted to see it." or "Bicycling? I love bicycling. We should go some time.") or say things like "get together", "play", or "do something".

I avoid "hang out" with guys I like as if it were the plague. That is much too casual. But say the word "date" and all sorts of drama ensues. Since dates imply relationships which imply marriage which implies family which implies forever and "Holy cow! I just met you! You want to marry me?"

Why no, actually, I just want a date. A first date does not mean forever.

I wish people, guys, specifically, would be more specific and say "Would you like to go out to lunch on Saturday?" or "Would you like to go with me to That One Movie on Friday?"

I haven't been asked on a date like that in ages, and if no such specifications are made, it can easily be assumed that even though it walks like a date, talks like a date, and looks like a date, it's not actually a date because no one said such things and nothing happened and it's not even clear if either party actually likes the other one.

It's so confusing.

That said, even though the words "date" or "go out" were never used, I definitely had a date on Saturday with a different guy. It went well enough that I'm wondering if I have to worry about Valentine's Day now. Hopefully, I'll have more on that later.