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How do you know if you're on a "date," anyway?

Posted by Karyn Polewaczyk  August 1, 2013 03:15 PM

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Credit: Amazon.com

A post I wrote a few days ago got a lot of people talking about dating and the Millennial generation—and it got me thinking about what it truly means to be in a relationship these days. But let’s take a step back: how do you know if you're on a date, to begin with?

Think about it. When’s the last time someone said to you (or the last time you said to someone), “I’d like to take you on a date” or “Would you like to go on a date”? Our vernacular has toned itself way down—we’re apt to “hang out” or “meet up”—which doesn’t just suggest we’ve gotten casual with our vocabulary; we’ve gotten casual with our commitments, too. For example: does a dinner reservation carry more weight than deciding on the fly that you’re both hungry and you’d like to get something to eat? Is a “date” contingent upon how much time you spend getting ready (or how much pressure you put on yourself to look or act a certain way)? Or does it boil down to whether the guy, in a heterosexual situation, takes initiative and does the asking, and picks up the check at the end of the night?

I posed the question to a friend, who, despite being in her 30s and having a long-term boyfriend, said she wasn’t sure if she’d ever been on a proper date. So, I consulted with a few tried-and-true resources to see what they had to say.

•According to The Rules authors, a woman should never approach a man first, ask a man out, split the check, or (gasp!) accept an invitation for Saturday night after Wednesday’s passed. Committed any of these sins? Best of luck to you, sister.
Lori Gottlieb, author of Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough (a book, by the way, that I promptly tossed into my recycling bin after reading it five years ago), suggests modern women are too picky—and to accept invitations from every and any man, at any cost. Okay!
•On the flip side, Nerve.com suggests we’re all confused because the rules are that there are no rules anymore (but notes that playing it cool never goes out of style), which, duh.

Confusion, it seems, has taken the place of certainty, and has left the D-word open to interpretation. Hope for those seeking more definitive answers, however, is not lost: per HowAboutWe.com's "Call Your Boyfriend" columnist, if you’re not sure if you’re if the plans you’ve made constitutes a date, just ask. It’s simple, to the point—and hopefully clears up any misconceptions about whether the guy (or girl) you're lusting after has placed you in the fling- or friend-zone.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About this blog

Karyn Polewaczyk lives and writes in Boston, and believes that heading out into that good night, like any adventure, begins with the first step. Let's Go Out is a conversation about dating and nightlife in our notoriously chilly city, with first-hand tips from the trenches. Karyn's writing, which focuses largely on women's lifestyle topics, has appeared in the Weekly Dig, Jezebel, xoJane, Northshore Magazine and More.com, among others. Follow her on Twitter at @KarynPolewaczyk.

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