Heather Hogan, Senior Writer + Editor
I have never one single time assumed any situation was a date unless I or the other person explicitly said, “Let us go on a date at this time at this place, and once we are there, it will be a date!” Which is a thing that has actually gotten me into a lot of trouble in my lifetime. Everyone always thinks I’m flirting with them because I’m generally warm and engaged and I ask questions and laugh easily and am tender and free with compliments and I make good eye contact and I touch people when I’m talking to them. I have been yelled at about this so many times, after the fact, due to “leading me on” and that is never my intention! I have also been yelled at for “not taking a hint” that someone was flirting with me. My partner Stacy never yelled at me about this. She just said, plainly, “We are going to sleep together tonight.” And I said, “Oh, okay!” And we did and that was that.
Erin , Writer
Rarely do I want to go on a date with someone and them not know it, so I don’t find myself in this stalemate outing scenario much! It’s more often that I find myself in the reverse scenario, where I’m unknowingly on semi-date with someone, which I find out when the person asks “Are we on a date?” out of nowhere and based on no real indicators that it’s a date, which to be fair works in both cases. Just ask if you’re on a date! Clears things up pretty quickly.
Rachel Kincaid, Former Managing Editor
Because I am a fucking dumb dumb and also have a healthy dose of skepticism about anyone’s desire to actually date me, I almost never trust that something is a date until somebody has successfully initiated making out. For this reason, I try to use some pretty clear context clues when planning seeing someone new, like explicitly telling them I think they’re hot or saying “X sounds like a really great date,” and I always really appreciate it when someone does the same. Personally I’m not a huge fan of being called pet names or flirty names by someone I’m not like somewhat seriously dating, BUT adding any explicitly flirty vibes or language can help make the friend hangout vs. date distinction clearer! There’s a big difference between “Leaving work, see you for drinks at 6!” and “Hey cutie I’m leaving work now, can’t wait to see you at 6! 😘”
Carrie Wade, Writer
I’ve always had this question resolved for me, as in “wait it out to see how the other person behaves and respond accordingly.” It’s worked out positively for me at times — but is still not an approach I would recommend (take control of your own life! It’s okay!). If I were in this situation now, I can only hope I’d have the fortitude to just ask and get it over with. I have a lot less patience for weird emotional tension now than I did in my early dating years. I no longer think it’s “fun” or “part of the experience.” So: do I say, not as I did, kids. Save yourself the trouble. I believe in you!
Valerie Anne, Writer
For me, it’s the post-event text. “I had a really great time today, we should do it again sometime” implies to me that they considered it a date. That’s always an alarming text to get when I personally hadn’t thought it was a date to begin with! This happens to me a lot because I can be obtuse when it comes to these things.
Molly Priddy, Writer
I am good at confirming these things because I ask very bluntly: “Is this a date to you? It feels like a date to me.” Also, if I have an inkling, I say, “This is really cool and you’re great, can I kiss you?” If she/they say no, then I say OK cool! There’s my answer, not necessarily to the date question, but about where she/they are.
Sarah Sarwar, Design & Marketing Director
I used to have trouble with this when I was younger because I never asked! Not before, not during, not after! I just didn’t have the communication skills to express that I wanted the outing to be a date, or the observational skills to know if it was. I recently moved to a new city, so I am socializing with new people regularly — people I meet at parties of mutual friends, acquaintances that I’ve hung out with in groups and now hang with one-on-one. The question exists, are these social plans dates? I think asking the “is this a date?” revolves around a few things: Do I want this to be a date? Are the plans are particularly cute or date-like (like a rooftop movie night, for example)? Are they being flirty/doing date-like things like opening doors or offering to pick me up, etc? If it’s a yes for all three, then I usually just work some form of the question “is this a date?” into our conversation. The only way to find out is to ask! JUST JUMP INTO THE FOGGY UNKNOWN I BELIEVE IN YOU!
Stef Schwartz, Vapid Fluff Editor
I tend to assume it’s not a date. Even if it is a date from a dating app, I’m never quite sure! I’m terrible at knowing whether or not another human being is flirting with me, so I think I end up surprised at the idea that the thing was a date more than the other way around.
Reneice Charles, Writer
I have figured it out by explicitly asking if we are going on a date before we go on the date/not date. I’ve been told that I’m an unusually direct person. I’ve just always thought its less awkward to ask than it is to not. Otherwise you’re stuck going out with whoever it is and spending the whole time trying to decode someone’s behaviors/vibe/whatever while your hormones are doing whatever they’re doing. That’s not a good look for me, so I just ask. It’s been great every time!
Vanessa Friedman, Community Editor
Like so many of us, I have been on countless “dates” with other women and nb folks where I have been left wondering if we were hanging out as friends, potential romantic partners, or something in between. However, this past spring I decided that we’re all gonna die one day and I’ve gotta get real honest about what I’m doing on this planet and how I’m spending my time. Then, a mega babe DMed me on Instagram (my favorite dating app) to compliment a cheese board I’d made myself for dinner (see: we’re all gonna die one day, live your best life etc.) I asked if she’d like to come over one night and have me make cheese boards for both of us. She said yes. We picked a Monday evening (is Monday evening a date night?) and she left a cute comment on a selfie I posted that day. She showed up with sparkling water and a bouquet of purple flowers, to match the lipstick I was wearing in the selfie. I made us two elaborate cheese boards and we set up a blanket in my backyard and ate, drank, and talked for a few hours.
I didn’t get very flirty vibes from our conversation, and we weren’t physical at all, but we did have a nice time and she is a flirtatious person in general. Plus, she brought flowers? And we talked about astrology and our exes? I dunno, we’re gay. What does anything mean?!? I could’ve just left these questions in the void – I wasn’t really in a place where I was looking for a serious girlfriend or anything – but I was curious. So I asked her! Y’all it was so wild! I just texted her, “can I be blunt? I’m curious if you felt date vibes tonight or if it was just a friend hang. Either is fine with me, just trying to be intentional with my communications and actions!” She wrote back immediately and clarified that for her it was a friend hang. Then we texted a little more about various things, and that was that! It was so nice to know! It wasn’t awkward when I saw her out dancing the next weekend! She was still flirty with me sometimes, but it was really helpful and soothing to my Capricorn brain to know definitively what our hangout had been for her and how I should categorize it for myself. 10/10, I would strongly recommend blunt direct communication when trying to figure out the answer to this age old queer question!