Posts Tagged ‘maybe-date’

Facebook is an amazing social tool. I know a lot of us love to hate it, and it has its problems, but we don’t leave for a reason, that reason being its extreme usefulness.

Aside from allowing me to stay in some kind of light touch with people who live far away and giving me a curated set of articles to read, Facebook is the single easiest way I’ve found to grow my local social life. You friend someone and then they invite you to their events, and then you meet people at those events and friend them, and they invite you to their events, and your social circle grows with much less effort on your part than back when you had to wait to be on email address exchange terms to get an invitation. (Or phone number exchange terms, heaven forbid!)

Likewise, I’ve found Facebook to be indispensable for dating. Basically, there are two ways most of the single people I know date. One way is to use internet dating sites: OKCupid is super popular among my friends, but there are a whole slew of sites to choose between. You don’t even have to choose! Some people are on a bunch of them all at once.  (And I guess a corollary of this would be speed dating, which I kind of want to do just because then I could write a hilarious blog post about it, and we’d all have fun with that.)

The other way, the Facebook way, works like this: You go to a social event. Any event where there are people will do; parties are perhaps the most common, but this also works with game nights, group dinners, conventions, classes, dances, etc. You meet another single person and spend some time chatting. Maybe a lot of time. Sometimes they then pull out their phones and add you on Facebook on the spot. Other times you friend each other in the next day or two or three. Regardless, now Facebook is your main point of contact.

Photo Credit: Peter Samis via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Peter Samis via Compfight cc

“But Amy,” you say, “surely you could exchange phone numbers or email addresses instead!” Yes, you are right. Surely you could, and occasionally you even do. But I’d say ninety percent of the time, you don’t. You friend each other on Facebook. And then maybe you switch to email or texting after that. Maybe. At some point. Or not.

Anyway, now you’re Facebook friends, and you begin messaging back and forth. There may be some banter. At some point the possibility of hanging out in person is discussed. All of this is very casual. After all, this is the exact same way you might go about creating any new friendship. Occasionally someone is very explicit about asking the other person on a date, but more often than not it’s all unspoken subtext. (I know from my Maybe-Date post we all have lots of opinions about this. Regardless, this is in my experience what tends to happen without making deliberate effort to make it happen differently. Not always, but often.)

I was talking to my friend about hipsters because I find the hipster movement fascinating and slightly confusing, and the conversation turned to hipster dating conventions (of course it did). My friend said that for hipsters, it’s all about plausible deniability and avoiding possible embarrassment. I don’t know if my friend is right, but the relaxed technique of hanging out and testing the waters with potential romantic interests happens all the time. And Facebook forms a cornerstone of this strategy.

(Of course, my friend went on to say, “Limbo can continue for months.” Months! Who has the patience for months? I certainly don’t. I’d simply turn my attention elsewhere. But apparently this too is a thing.)

In any case, I would not want to be dating right now without Facebook. It is simply too ubiquitous and useful. Plus I haven’t done any online dating since January because I was so appalled by Creepy Neighbor Guy (met on OKCupid, for those keeping track) that I just got annoyed with the whole thing. So at this point in time my dating prospects are all people I’m meeting first in person, and Facebook is the easiest way to facilitate that.

Of course, Facebook is a convenient way to encourage new friendships and grow existing friendships in general. Dating is just one facet of that. But it’s definitely an interesting part of the Facebook experience!

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I was having a conversation with a friend, and after telling me about someone new she’d hung out with, she asked, “So. Do you think it was a date?”

This is not as uncommon a question as you might think.

I myself am the master of the maybe-date, so much so that I have coined the phrase “maybe-date” in order to more efficiently communicate with my friends. “Oh, what am I doing Wednesday night? I have a maybe-date. Yeah, I’m not really sure. Maybe.”

Photo Credit: zeevveez via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: zeevveez via Compfight cc

Here is how the maybe-date tends to come about. You’ve met someone in real life (aka not via internet dating, which tends to cut down on ambiguity, although YOU WOULD BE SURPRISED). You’ve met them at work or at a party or at some other social event. You likely have at least one friend in common with them, and often more. They are your preferred gender, and they are available. At least you think they’re available. If you’re me, you also think they might not be polyamorous. At least you hope they’re not polyamorous. (Although if you’re me, you have tons of polyamorous friends, and therefore the likelihood the guy you just met at x social function is polyamorous is fairly high. This tends to confuse things even further.)

Anyway, you and this person who you think is available have made plans for just the two of you. But is it a date? Or are you friends hanging out? WHICH IS IT?

You think it’s easy to tell the difference? Well, yes, sometimes it is. And it’s always satisfying to be able to say, “Yes, I have a date” with conviction. But sometimes, between the context and the casual way everything has come about, it isn’t so clear. Add to that the fact that sometimes I’m not even sure if I want it to be a date or not, and the confusion can mount quite quickly. And sometimes you’re pretty sure it IS a date, only to end the evening with a shrug and an “Or not.”

Okay, so let’s break down some signs of date vs. not a date that you can disagree with me about in the comments, shall we?

  • Gives you lots of compliments: more likely a date, unless it is a colleague trying to help you out of the depths of impostor syndrome
  • Pays for your meal/activity: not clear. Yeah, I know this is gendered, and it used to be my go-to way for telling if something was a date, but it doesn’t work anymore. It’s actually become a pretty bad way of telling, because enough people like to treat and enough other people go Dutch as a matter of course that this is simply not enough data.
  • Touches you a lot, like on the hand or shoulder or whatever: more likely a date
  • Is also touching other people in the same fashion (say, if you’re at a party or other group event): probably likes flirting in general, so who knows?
  • Invites you to dinner: more likely a date, but solidly in the gray zone
  • Invites you to a group activity: probably not a date
  • Invites you to a group activity, and then because of the vagaries of life, it ends up being just the two of you: probably not a date, unless they’re trying to be weirdly crafty (which is unnecessary, since they could, I don’t know, just ask you on a date?)
  • Randomly runs into you and then hangs out: not a date (yes, I’m defining a date has having been planned in advance.)
  • Mentions dating: Who knows? People on a date love talking about dating. It’s kind of weird but true. But people also just like talking about dating in general.
  • Asks you on a date-like activity soon after meeting you: more likely a date
  • Has gone to a lot of trouble to elaborately plan what you’re doing: probably a date. Either that or maybe they just really like to plan stuff?
  • Flirting: more likely a date, but people’s definitions of flirting differ (for example, smiling can be seen as flirtation, but I smile at EVERYONE, it’s just part of Amy-ness)
  • Stays up talking too late with you: more likely to be a date, but could also just be a night owl (like me) or love chatting (also like me)
  • Hugs you: I live in California. This means nothing here.
  • Asks for your phone number: more likely to be a date, although context really matters here. The advent of the Facebook age has definitely increased the number of maybe-dates in the world.
  • Holds your hand and/or kisses you: yeah, it’s a date
  • Asks you explicitly on a date (aka “Would you like to go on a date? Would you like to go out sometime? I’d like to ask you to dinner. etc.): Easy peasy! It’s definitely a date.

Basically, it all comes down to body language and social cues, and sometimes those things make the “is it a date” question?” very clear, whereas other times…who can say? This effect is probably heightened when more of the interaction is done via a text medium (no body language and no tone of voice make it a lot harder to read) or if at least one of the people involved is a bit on the awkward side.

What to do about the maybe-date? Well, you can try to make your plans in a way that is more explicit. Certainly I have plenty of first dates that aren’t internet dates that I am still sure are dates. Barring that, you can just straight-out ask. This isn’t the smoothest thing ever, but it does resolve the question in a quick and efficient manner. Or you can learn to be comfortable in the maybe-date zone and wait and see what happens.

As for myself, I’m perfectly happy to take a wait-and-see attitude on occasion. By the end of the outing, I’ve usually made up my mind about something, anyway: either on whether or not this was a date, or if not that, perhaps on whether or not I wanted it to be. Although if I’m still really uncertain, I’m probably less likely to want it to have been a date, because you know, life’s too short. And then there’s Mark Manson’s popular Theory of Yes to keep in mind.

And what about my friend? After much discussion, we decided we think it was a date. But we’re still not a hundred percent sure.

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