There's a blog post making the rounds among my facebook friends--I'm sure some of you have seen it. On his blog, Matt Walsh is calling for single men to stop hiding behind the phrase "hanging out" and call a date a date. Admittedly, this is the first I've read on his blog so I don't know how many opinions we share. But on this issue, we have some common thoughts.
He's right: dating is confusing. Because most of us aren't 100% sure when we're actually on a date. I get A LOT of letters and questions from people asking me "was that a date?" I don't understand why this is so unclear, just that it is. It's almost like each of us is so afraid of rejection that we think keeping it vague is better. Or maybe we're so afraid of commitment that we keep everything really casual until, what, someone proposes? I don't know the answer here. I can only join the millennial masses and speculate.
Walsh gets it half right when he calls for men to be clear and make up their minds. He's half right because women need to do it too. Despite the fact that it means talking about feelings, we as a population of single adults need to be honest about the status of things and ask the questions that lead to knowing if you're on a date.
I found myself in a bit of trouble recently when a man told me about an event he and a bunch of friends were attending. As a group. It sounded fun, so when he said I should join them, I told him I would consider it. He asked for my number. Halfway through the digits, I felt the all too familiar Commitment Panic, realizing he might have wanted it for date purposes. But how do you make that clear? Please only use my number for platonic group events, thanks? That's not normal. I can't go around saying things like that and still make friends. Not to mention...what if he didn't want to ask me out? Then I would sound like that girl who assumes every man wants to be her boyfriend. Once I started giving him my number, I couldn't turn back. I just had to wait and see what happened. Because I was totally in the dark.
No, he wanted to ask me out. His message that week was a clear date invitation, so points for that. But if he had been clear from the start, we could have avoided that situation.
In his blog post, Matt Walsh is appointing men with the task of being clear about their intentions. And I'll give you that most of the "is this a date?" questions I get are from women, but my audience skews more female, if stuff like my facebook page is to be believed. (Boys, you need to be more vocal out there!) I'm not sure if guys have this same "are we on a date" anxiety--my guess is yes. And "are we on a date" doesn't even compare to "are we in a relationship" concerns. Can I call him my boyfriend? My friends are calling him my boyfriend but he's never said it, and I've never said it, so maybe he's not my boyfriend? One time I didn't address this issue until my dad started telling everyone I had a boyfriend and then I asked the guy if that was true. And no, I absolutely will not tell you when this happened in my life.
So here's my suggestion, single readers: make it clear. If you initiate hanging out with someone but really you mean it to be a date, call it a date. If you want to keep dating them, make that clear too. Then they can answer you honestly about whether or not they'd like that, because they will KNOW it's a date. They can adequately prepare for a date and stop texting me mid-date from the bathroom listing details of the outing and asking if I think they're on a date. Yeah, that happens. (I'm fine with you messaging me mid-date if you want my help, but it's probably a little weird and maybe our relationship should have some boundaries? I don't know, we'll work on that.)