Hanging out, instead of dating, has become the preferred way of getting to know someone new. “Hanging out” has the advantage of being perceived as more comfortable, sexual, less formal and expensive than more traditional forms of dating. But these conveniences come at a price, making it difficult to figure out someone’s intentions for a relationship. Maintaining some of the traditional aspects of “the date” when courting can help separate people with more serious intentions then just “hanging out,” and help prevent any misunderstandings.
How to make it “a date:”
- Be honest: Be clear about your intention when giving out your contact information or going out. Drop the word “date” or refer to the person casually, depending on your intentions.
- Take the initiative/Be responsive: If you like someone, take a chance and communicate your intentions, or give him/her the opportunity or opening to take a chance with you.
- Keep your word: If you make plans, keep them. Contact the person in the morning of the date and confirm your plans. This might be a good time to apply either of the above tips.
- Prepare: Consider what you already or want to know about your “date” and prepare a few interesting topics or personal stories to discuss. You will feel less pressure going into and during the date and show a genuine interest in him or her.
- Pick the Right Setting: Make sure you will both have fun on your date. Avoid places where you may have to introduce each other to non-mutual friends, require formality, or interview-like settings (i.e. meals).
Save “hanging out” for your friends and new acquaintances. If the situation feels more like “hanging out,” consider that your new friend may not see you as a potential serious relationship. Be confident and honest in your communication and decisions to either “date” or “hang out,” and stop letting assumptions define your relationships.
Benjamin Ritter, MBA, MPH, Author of The Essentials and co-founder of Suave Lover International and the Suave Lover podcast (subscribe on iTunes), is a freelance writer and a private relationship-and-social-dynamics coach in the areas of public health, fitness, and social dynamics, a writer and editor for Ask Men.com, and the interpersonal relationships columnist for examiner.com. His passion lies in guiding and providing tools to men for overall self-improvement.
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*Edited by Rachel Ritter