"Would you like to go on a date with me?" February 13, 2014 1:15 PM   Subscribe

Just something I've always noticed on askme threads about pursuing a romantic interest - everyone's advocating the use of the word 'date,' and it somewhat surprises me.

I've been asked out dozens of times in my life, and no one has ever used the word 'date.' If someone did, it would be a bit awkward and formal, not that it would lead me to decline if I were actually interested.

Are people really saying this to each other? And it's not clumsy? Aren't there far suaver ways to put it? 'Want to go out sometime?' 'Want to get a drink Weds night?' Anything? Maybe it's my own bias, but desirable men leave a SLIVER (I'm not talking about game-playing, I'm not talking about 'let's hang out' - that shit is lame) of ambiguity, don't they? Am I the only one who shudders a little at this advice?

Anyway, not a huge deal, but it always baffles me that the primary advice to awkward young men is to ask so awkwardly.
posted by namesarehard to MetaFilter-Related at 1:15 PM (450 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

Is this a scene from a romantic comedy you're writing?
posted by mullacc at 1:18 PM on February 13, 2014 [12 favorites]


Using the word "date" comes with a benefit that other somewhat-synonymous phrases ("go out...", "get a...") do not: it explicitly defines the experience as a romantic outing, whereas other phrases are also used in non-romantic contexts.

Yes, that phrasing is comparatively awkward and formal, but only because you're actually taking the risk and declaring up front that you're romantically interested in the person, versus other phrases which can be misconstrued or misrepresented (accidentally or on purpose by either party) to mean friendship.
posted by davejay at 1:19 PM on February 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


This could totally have been an AskMe rather than a MeTa.
posted by Sternmeyer at 1:22 PM on February 13, 2014 [14 favorites]


Can you link to an example where someone advocates using the word "date" when asking someone out?
posted by rocket88 at 1:22 PM on February 13, 2014


Askme tends to live in an idealist realm, so the answers given are usually the ones that are probably the best way to say things (in the sense that there would be no ambiguity or frittering), but are not actually how real humans full of awkward feelings actually talk to each other.
posted by Think_Long at 1:23 PM on February 13, 2014 [24 favorites]


These questions are most often about signs and signals and reading the ambiguity and does she like me or is she just friendly and the people involved in them are demonstrating their general inability to read those signs and signals which is why they have turned to AskMe for help. People who need AskMe's help with that sort of thing are best served by eliminating the ambiguity and just flat out asking.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:24 PM on February 13, 2014 [44 favorites]


In Toronto in grade 5 it was "going around."
"Do you wanna go around with me?"
Then the next day at school you would break up and ask someone else to go around.
posted by chococat at 1:25 PM on February 13, 2014 [14 favorites]


I agree it seems like it would be awkward but having been on the receiving end of some really ambiguous invites when single, I would've appreciated people being up-front with me, so I didn't have to awkwardly turn them down after a meal/drink/etc. I wouldn't have agreed to if I'd realized it was a date.
posted by Squeak Attack at 1:27 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I think Jacquilynne probably has it. Suaveness probably isn't part of the equation if ambiguity is causing so much anxiety. And no, this would not be an askme. There's no problem to be solved, it'd be removed immediately.
posted by namesarehard at 1:27 PM on February 13, 2014


Yes, this advise is given seemingly constantly. I usually advise saying something like "do you want to hang out?" instead, because the meaning is almost always just as clear, but leaves some plausible deniability. And people are a lot more comfortable and get better results when they speak in their natural idiom.

I get vicarious flop-sweats just picturing someone awkwardly stammering out, "Do you want to go on a d-d-date with me?" to their crush in 2014.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:28 PM on February 13, 2014 [12 favorites]


I think this came up because of this AskMe. I think using the actual word "date" makes a lot of sense in that scenario, because the person being asked out is someone the asker has been friends with, so using the word "date" makes clear this is not just another friend outing. The asker is also young and has social anxiety (from previous questions). In general I think erring on the side of being more forthcoming is a good thing, rather than dropping hints and expecting people to pick up on them, so I guess I'm surprised that you're surprised that people are advocating coming right out and calling it a date.
posted by payoto at 1:29 PM on February 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


Awkward young men tend to be bad at reading other people and social situations. In my 20s, I always had trouble telling when a women was going out or hanging out with me romantically versus as a friend. That situation can lead to unwelcome advances or a failure to make advances that might be welcome.

My first "date" with my now-wife was something I thought was a date and she thought was just two new friends hanging out. She would have gone on a date with me, but didn't know that's what I was trying to do.

Bottom line, the sauve guys aren't the ones asking these questions.
posted by Area Man at 1:33 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


The thing is that "do you want to go out/hang out/etc" *is* how you say "go on a date" in the US in 2014. "Dating" is an archaic word, and an archaic concept for most people by now.

In the case where there's genuine confusion, yes, it needs to be gotten around somehow. But using a scripted phrase that sounds right out of "Leave it to Beaver" is going to lead to horrible, awkward embarrassment and humiliation for the asker much more often than not.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:35 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


The most recent example i've seen of this is here. I don't think leaving a sliver of ambiguity would help the OP, if he wants to move from "girl who is a friend" to "girlfriend" he's going to have to take a risk and be more explicit. Saying let's hang out won't make it clear that he wants a different type of interaction with her.
posted by InfidelZombie at 1:36 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Heh, everyone's points are well taken. Still, I would say some anxiety over ambiguity in the early phases of dating needs to be tolerated, and this advice, while it might be geared toward the unsuave guys, is making them even a bit less suave.

Not a huge deal, just an amused observation.
posted by namesarehard at 1:36 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


People who are good at giving and interpreting social cues can pull off the ambiguous phrasing, because they imbue that ambiguous phrasing with clear, unambiguous intent.

Think Eddie Izzard.

People who are not good at giving or interpreting social cues try to use them anyway, because they're told this is desirable to do, and then they end up in a mire of anxiety and miscommunication and then write a 2000 word AskMe.

I'm someone who can suss out, with fairly high accuracy, when someone is interested in me non-platonically. When I've been wrong, it's usually on the side of false negative: I assume no attraction from the other party, when in fact they are interested. This happens pretty much exclusively because 1) the other person has suppressed all their signal giving out of awkwardness or terror, and 2) he did not replace it with verbal clarity, such as using the words "date" or "girlfriend" or what have you. If you give me nothing to work with--no recognizable flirting, no verbal cues--no, I will NOT know that you have a crush on me.

Because the askme situations are usually time sensitive, it isn't helpful to say, "train yourself to become a stronger observer and signaler of human intention by next Thursday." It's much more helpful to say, "use the word date, and there will be no further confusion."
posted by like_a_friend at 1:36 PM on February 13, 2014 [17 favorites]


Speaking as a NZer, 'date' is definitely an imported Americanism. But it's a useful imported Americanism because our subdued deadpan Kiwi nature means we need all the help we can get in matters of the heart.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:37 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


The thing is that "do you want to go out/hang out/etc" *is* how you say "go on a date" in the US in 2014. "Dating" is an archaic word, and an archaic concept for most people by now.

o for gods sake NOW you tell us
posted by Sebmojo at 1:38 PM on February 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


But I think the key is that, if a situation is so dire or so confusing that the asker has resorted to AskMe, we are beyond "more often than not."

The most successful relationship I ever had started with asking a guy whether or not he wanted to kiss me. He did. I'm glad I didn't try to be suave or coy.
posted by muddgirl at 1:39 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's also worth noting that "suave" is not a universally admired trait. Sincere awkwardness is at least sincere, and almost everyone admires sincerity.

(Faux awkwardness by someone who actually is "suave" is the worst though!)
posted by like_a_friend at 1:40 PM on February 13, 2014 [13 favorites]


I agree with this post. I always see people getting this advice, and then I try to think through my history of asking people out and being asked out, and extremely rarely is the word 'date' ever used between us. Maybe one in five times at the drastic most. I think there are other ways to let someone know that it's a date that you're asking them on, when asking them - however, it may be hard to put advice to replicate it into words.
posted by destructive cactus at 1:41 PM on February 13, 2014


Call me when we get to the "just DTMFA" stage here ..
posted by k5.user at 1:43 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


desirable men leave a SLIVER ... of ambiguity, don't they?
I don't find ambiguity desirable, myself. Say "Yes" or "No", please. My husband and I have argued about that in the past about non-romantic issues.

I "go out" and/or "get a drink" with my platonic friends and with coworkers who are merely acquaintances. If one of them said we should "go out" and I was still single, I would not think they were asking me on a date. I would, in fact, recruit others to come along.
posted by soelo at 1:43 PM on February 13, 2014 [18 favorites]


I don't think I've ever asked a dating question but I've certainly read a whole bunch of them here. Because of the general advice to be direct and unambiguous it's convinced me to be much more direct and unambiguous, and it's made my dating life heaps easier and more fun.

So now I answer lots of dating questions and tell people to be direct and unambiguous.

Maybe you don't find it desirable when people say "hi I like you and I would like us to go out on a date" but I do. And the dudes I date sure as fuck think it's desirable when I do it. Go ahead and be baffled all you want.
posted by phunniemee at 1:43 PM on February 13, 2014 [44 favorites]


oh and sorry Rocket88, I was thinking of this one but the other is valid too.
posted by namesarehard at 1:44 PM on February 13, 2014


Maybe things have changed dramatically in the past decade, but when I was single, "hang out" was super ambiguous and often meant "yeah we'll probably make out at some point but this isn't, like, a dating thing." And people really did use the word "date," though not often, but it wasn't that awkward, and it was useful if you were trying to figure out if you were just friends or something more. A lot of people send super-vague signals when they're interested in someone, and a lot of people are oblivious to signals. Better to be obvious.

"I'd like to take you out sometime" is a smoother phrasing that's still fairly unambiguous. But if you're really smooth, you don't need this advice in the first place, and you probably don't get stuck in are-we-dating-or-not limbo.

Besides, suaveness is overrated. It makes for fun dates (or hangouts or whatever it's called when the kids make out on my lawn), but doesn't have a ton of use in a long-term relationship.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:46 PM on February 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


but are not actually how real humans full of awkward feelings actually talk to each other.

With both my current boyfriend and my ex, the explicit use of the word 'date' was what signaled (from me in the first case, to me in the latter) the shift to romantic interest in a clear and unambiguous way.

In fact, every potentially romantic thing I've been on in probably the last ten years explicitly used the word date, unless we'd already made our feelings known in some other way. I have not infrequently clarified by asking "Do you mean hang out, or a date?"

I usually advise saying something like "do you want to hang out?" instead, because the meaning is almost always just as clear, but leaves some plausible deniability.

Yeah, see, I've been on the receiving end of that question. And then been rather astonished when the dude who I was only interested in platonically tried to get all up in my business. Horribly awkward and unpleasant for everyone. Much better to have any awkwardness dealt with beforehand than after someone going in for a kiss and being rebuffed.

From reading AskMe a lot, lots and lots of women (I'm a dude but w/e) have been in that truly awkward, uncomfortable, and potentially aggressive situation where one person thinks there's something romantic going on and the other doesn't. Yeah, it sucks to turn someone down if they ask you on a date; nobody likes inflicting that sort of hurt on others. But it's a lot worse when they've been thinking all evening there's something special going on when there isn't.

Maybe you don't find it desirable when people say "hi I like you and I would like us to go out on a date" but I do. And the dudes I date sure as fuck think it's desirable when I do it. Go ahead and be baffled all you want.

This! So very much this! It's really flattering and hot when someone says "I like you. Do you like me?" It shows they're willing to go out on a limb for me. Keeping 'plausible deniability' is saying "Well I like you kinda, but not enough to actually say so. Hope you took your telepathy pills today."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:47 PM on February 13, 2014 [41 favorites]


Ambiguity leaves room for fear. Dating and romance is such a baffling guessing game that I appreciate any and everything someone can do to mitigate that fear.
posted by Mizu at 1:48 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've made this point over and over in these threads, and it's just not something anyone actually acknowledges. No one says this! i'm completely with you! the comments going "say some really awkward robotic thing" get 20 favorites and then everyone just says it more.

Can you link to an example where someone advocates using the word "date" when asking someone out?

Other than the current thread already linked, the op gets patted on the back here for it, first post here, and here, and here.

I could go on forever. google "ask date site:ask.metafilter.com" and it's like every other result.

I'm not picking some bone with directness, nor advocating any kind of tiresome ambiguity or anything. I'm just saying that in 2014 no one says that word. You can split hairs forever about why that is, or the downfall of society or whatever. But i honestly think it's because people want the escape hatch of being able to go "Well i mean, did you think this was a date?" if it goes awfully. And that's kinda understandable.

I don't know though, whatever. Ask's obsession with saying that word and phrasing it consistently that way annoys me though, and it's not a thing people actually do, dammit.

In fact, every potentially romantic thing I've been on in probably the last ten years explicitly used the word date, unless we'd already made our feelings known in some other way. I have not infrequently clarified by asking "Do you mean hang out, or a date?"

I have had exactly the opposite experience. I've only ever heard the phrase used when talking to friends, unrelated to any dating activity. Along the lines of "oh, such and such went on a date yesterday". I've actually brought this up with friends too. I haven't seen or heard of anyone clarifying like that, or anyone asking that question.

Maybe it's that i live in seattle, passive aggressive capitol of the world, but yea.
posted by emptythought at 1:50 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


I would say some anxiety over ambiguity in the early phases of dating needs to be tolerated

I don't disagree, but in the instances where I've seen it, the ambiguity is causing problems and saying "Let's go on a date" removes it fairly easily. I'm middle aged and saying this sounds archaic to me as well (it wasn't what we said in high school, college or afterwards) but it has a clear expression of intent in it.

while it might be geared toward the unsuave guys, is making them even a bit less suave.

That is their issue to deal with then. Less suavity with accompanying lower ambiguity in dating-type interactions might be a good outcome.

My current SO and I got together because he said "I just wanted to say I like you, like LIKE you like you" and that got it across to me because it was not ambiguous. If that works better, folks could try that but I think it may be even worse.

And yeah I remember when I used to live in Seattle, this sort of thing was impossible. I think you'd call it "dry dating" (all the dating activities but none of the sexxing) and I had to move to the East Coast to get away from it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:52 PM on February 13, 2014 [15 favorites]


Phunniemee, etc. guys, I'm not calling you unsuave or shitting on your relationships, relax. I think the word 'date' is anachronistic. 'Want to get dinner,' 'want to go for a drink,' 'want to go out sometime?' All things I've heard plenty of times. 'Want to go on a date?' - as a woman who's been asked out a lot, I've never heard this and would find it a little awkward. My only point.
posted by namesarehard at 1:53 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm just saying that in 2014 no one says that word

Well it was near the end of 2013 but yes, actually, this person right here and his boyfriend both say that word. Perhaps blanket assertions are unhelpful.

But i honestly think it's because people want the escape hatch of being able to go "Well i mean, did you think this was a date?" if it goes awfully.

To me, someone flying without a net is eleventy billion times sexier than someone hedging their bets.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:57 PM on February 13, 2014 [22 favorites]


I've asked and been asked out on dates, and no one has ever, EVER said the word "date". Except like ironically, when intentional awkwardness was being invoked.

But I am sure others have the exact opposite experience.

It's probably useful to know which tribe the asker & askee belongs to. God help everyone on askme, because no one on the internet is going to be able to definitively tell them this.
posted by danny the boy at 1:57 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think part of it is generational as well. I'm in my early twenties, and pretty much everyone I know around my age in multiple circles and geographic locations prefers to skip the ambiguous "let's hang out" fiddly stuff. There's several factors I can think of - the increase in male-female platonic friendships, increased awareness for non-heteronormative orientations, increased social acceptability of one-on-one interactions as a platonic social mode, more fuzziness in relationships - which works contrary to what one would think because now you really have to push it if you want an actual romantic relationship as opposed to just an arrangement, and just generally having a lot more stuff on one's mental plate that you can't dedicate as much mental energy to figuring out what people mean.

So I mean, if they're going to say that they're around university age (my age), I'm going to say what's in tune with the culture I've observed for early twenty-somethings.
posted by Conspire at 1:57 PM on February 13, 2014 [9 favorites]


"The thing is that 'do you want to go out/hang out/etc' *is* how you say 'go on a date' in the US in 2014."

No, it's how you say "go out on a date".

One thing that is a big problem with human relationship questions on AskMe in general, and with romance/sex questions specifically, is that many people seem to forget that a) the world is a very big place and the cultural norms in your region are not necessarily the cultural norms in other regions; b) there are various subcultures within larger cultures and even the people who live near you do not necessarily have the same customs; and (a big one): c) not all other mefites, including the asker, is your age.

There are people who live in the southern US here, people who live in large US cities or in the rural west, people who live in Canadian territories, people who live in the UK, the Netherlands, Japan, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Chile, South Korea, and many other places. They are techie professionals, homemakers, scientists, attorneys, unemployed, retired, civil engineers, retail clerks, writers, teachers, civil service workers. They are teens, college students, twentysomething young adults, twentysomething married adults (straight and gay), childless, with children, with grandchildren, thirtysomething and fortysomething and fiftysomething and sixtysomething and married or divorced or single, even a few seventysomethings.

Everyone is not like you.

Your norms are not everyone else's norms. When someone writes things and describes aspects of their life and it seems really weird and possibly "wrong" or "crazy" to you, consider that maybe, just maybe, they have lived a life different than yours, with different experiences in difficult cultures and subcultures, and what seems weird to you is perfectly normal to them and the people they know.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:58 PM on February 13, 2014 [51 favorites]


But i honestly think it's because people want the escape hatch of being able to go "Well i mean, did you think this was a date?" if it goes awfully. And that's kinda understandable.

Understandable I guess, but really shitty! Holy crap! "Oh I'm not attracted to this person as much as I thought. Better make them feel INSANE for thinking I would be!" NOOOOOOOOOO. WHAT. NOOOOOOOO.
posted by like_a_friend at 1:59 PM on February 13, 2014 [33 favorites]


Hey, i'm not saying i think it's great, just that it's an observation i've made in the way i've seen people behave and something i've heard a couple people say when relating how they don't like going out and doing things that are strictly dates unless they've already been doing date-y things with someone for a while.

And that sort of attitude seems reaaaallly common in my area of the US.
posted by emptythought at 2:02 PM on February 13, 2014


I think there are other ways to let someone know that it's a date that you're asking them on, when asking them - however, it may be hard to put advice to replicate it into words.

I think that key to de-throning the primacy of the word "date" in this kind of advice is figuring out how to put this advice into words. How can these awkward questioners ask someone "out" and make it clear in a suave way that they have romantic intent?
posted by Area Man at 2:05 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


"I just wanted to say I like you, like LIKE you like you"

Ah, contrastive focus reduplication!

(Sorry, just delighted to have learned this term today.)
posted by neroli at 2:07 PM on February 13, 2014 [21 favorites]


"Hey, can I take you out for dinner/to a concert/________ on Friday?" is pretty close and relatively unambiguous if there's not an existing friend-relationship.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:08 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Are you accusing us of lying, or some sort of conspiracy, that so many people do use the word even though you don't and say nobody does? I don't understand the purpose of this MeTa.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:08 PM on February 13, 2014 [13 favorites]


And that sort of attitude seems reaaaallly common in my area of the US.

Yeah it was really common where I went to school, which is why I tell everyone I know to stay as far away from that city as humanly possible.

How can these awkward questioners ask someone "out" and make it clear in a suave way that they have romantic intent?

Short term? They can't. If they had that ability in their toolbox they wouldn't ask the question. Long term: building up personal confidence. Establishing a high comfort level with the desired sex. Becoming, just generally, really skilled at having conversations and understanding other people. Learning what kinds of signals they are giving, and what kinds they are receiving.

Basically, you learn this by dating a lot, for a long long time. Some people are ahead of the curve in social skills and only need that little bit of High School awkwardness to get them going. Others need a lot more practice.

But you can't get the practice if you can't ever get Date 1. So once in your life, or maybe 10 times, you use the dreaded word "date."
posted by like_a_friend at 2:08 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm just saying that in 2014 no one says that word.

I dunno. I had a conversation with my teenaged son last night where he talked about a date he went on with his boyfriend - and he actually used the word date when talking about their date.

But he's gay and they love Olive Garden. Maybe they're doing it wrong, I dunno.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:08 PM on February 13, 2014 [24 favorites]


In my post i noted that people say it when discussing dates they went on with other uninvolved parties, they just don't actually use it when asking someone out.
posted by emptythought at 2:10 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Hey, can I take you out for dinner/to a concert/________ on Friday?" is pretty close and relatively unambiguous if there's not an existing friend-relationship.

I think this works even if there is an existing friend-relationship. I've never asked a friend if I could take her out to dinner, unless I meant that I wanted us to be more than friends. And I've never asked a male friend if I could take him out to dinner, and can't see any situation where I would.

"Can I buy you a drink/dinner?" also works.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:10 PM on February 13, 2014


Why back in my day, you showed someone you were interested in them by getting drunk together and making out.

Not that that ever seemed like the best way to start a relationship.

Also the phrase 'dry dating' makes me uncomfortable for some reason.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:11 PM on February 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


Are you accusing us of lying, or some sort of conspiracy, that so many people do use the word even though you don't and say nobody does?

Erm, I don't think anyone is accusing anyone about anything. This is weirdly defensive.
posted by Think_Long at 2:11 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


Oh god I just asked a friend of mine if I could buy her a drink this weekend, I better call my mom and tell her I'm a lesbian now. ;)
posted by like_a_friend at 2:12 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


But he's gay and they love Olive Garden.

You know, I'm usually all for us queer boys busting out of stereotypes. But Olive Garden? Really?

Sigh.

hamburger. also, non-hamburgerishly, you sound like a great dad. Just like introduce him to tastier restaurants maybe :P

In my post i noted that people say it when discussing dates they went on with other uninvolved parties, they just don't actually use it when asking someone out.

Actually you full-on asserted that nobody uses the word at all when asking people out. You are fundamentally wrong on this point, as several of us here have been trying to tell you.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:13 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh god I just asked a friend of mine if I could buy her a drink this weekend, I better call my mom and tell her I'm a lesbian now. ;)


I guess you're more generous with your friends than I am.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:13 PM on February 13, 2014


Phunniemee, etc. guys, I'm not calling you unsuave or shitting on your relationships, relax. I think the word 'date' is anachronistic.

I didn't think you were.

But like I'm over here living in a major city and being a single 28 year old person who dates and I say the word date and no one thinks that I'm being formal or old, so maybe it's not that the word date is out of date (like, my parents and grandma don't even say date, they say "hang out" and "going to dinner with a special friend" and such), it's that maybe you just don't run in circles where it is said.

IT IS SO MUCH EASIER WHEN YOU DO, THOUGH.
posted by phunniemee at 2:13 PM on February 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think you'd call it "dry dating" (all the dating activities but none of the sexxing)

New guidelines recommend saying "can I take you out on a wet date" for clarity. Also, waggle the eyebrows.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:14 PM on February 13, 2014 [63 favorites]


'Want to get dinner,' 'want to go for a drink,' 'want to go out sometime?' All things I've heard plenty of times.

Me too, and I've used them, and most often used them in the context of asking a friend or co-worker to go on a non-romantic just-friends kind of outing.

Some people really need less ambiguity in communication, both giving and receiving. That is okay! It is okay to tell people who are already feeling uncertain that there is this very clear phrase they can use that will lessen the uncertainty.
posted by rtha at 2:15 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


The suggestion of specifically asking "do you want to go on a date?" is Metafilter's way of putting an arm around you, walking you to the place that he/she hangs out, saying "it'll be fine. What's the worst that can happen?", hanging around outside the window where they can see you both and silently punching the air with a knowing smile when they see you get a number.
posted by 0 answers at 2:15 PM on February 13, 2014 [20 favorites]


Yeah, I have actually used the word "date" a few times, although phrasing like "can I take you out" is more common. The latter is a little less awkward but still a super-clear (IMO) phrasing. The few times I did use the date word I had a 100% success rate (in getting that date, anyway) so I don't think its some horrible death knell.

There's probably some age related stuff going on with phrasing, too. I wouldn't have used "date" as a teenager or in college, but in my mid 30's it felt less awkward to be straightforward.

(But again, I think the best is something like "take you out" which says date in a slightly less blunt way. "Go out" and the like I avoid because its wayyy too ambiguous. Although this also depends on context --- on an online dating site, phrasing doesn't matter much because its a dating site. IRL you have to be more clear).
posted by wildcrdj at 2:15 PM on February 13, 2014


Actually if I had to do some armchair sociolinguisticing here, I'd say being unambiguous is probably something you're going to see more of a resurgence with among younger people who are growing up to be more empowered and open about their own feelings and sexuality.
posted by phunniemee at 2:16 PM on February 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


New guidelines recommend saying "can I take you out on a wet date" for clarity.

Caveat: this is probably not a good idea for queer men as the assumptions can be... oh let's just say different than one might expect.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:16 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Moist dating" sounds better to me for the reverse of dry dating.
posted by Conspire at 2:16 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't think 'dating' needs to have modifiers, personally.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:18 PM on February 13, 2014


I prefer a hard date with a soft landing.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:19 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


inb4 circlejerk about the phrase moist being awful
posted by emptythought at 2:20 PM on February 13, 2014


Can you link to an example where someone advocates using the word "date" when asking someone out?

Seriously? This comes up in every single thread when someone's asking about how to approach a person they like. "Ask her if she wants to go on a date. Use the word 'date.'" It's the second-most-common piece of AskMe advice at this point, after "get therapy," closely followed by "eat it."
posted by Dasein at 2:21 PM on February 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


phunniemee if I hear my mom say "special friend" one more time I will rend my garments and become celibate for life.

But the question in the MeTa was, "why does AskMe give this advice." And the answer is, "because if for whatever reason you're not smooth enough to navigate dating with purely ambiguous terminology, using CLEAR terminology might work better for you."

I do not think AskMe, as a Hivemind, believes that EVERYONE, always, must use the word date. Just that it might work, in situations where "hang out" and "grab a coffee" have failed to express your intentions.

And again, "become a much more sophisticated human being, you gorp" is probably not going to help any of those askers. Or anyway, not by this weekend, or before that cutie leaves the library.

posted by like_a_friend at 2:21 PM on February 13, 2014 [17 favorites]


Erm, I don't think anyone is accusing anyone about anything. This is weirdly defensive.


From the post:
Are people really saying this to each other? And it's not clumsy? Aren't there far suaver ways to put it?

So yeah, speaking as someone who does actually use - and like! - the word "date," this is a shitty meta and a shitty way to mock language that a lot of people really do use. I don't know what the point of this meta is, except to make a not-so-thinly veiled post making fun of a very common word that a lot of people use. So defensiveness is a pretty reasonable response here. Of course, according to the op here, I'm not very "suave," so maybe you shouldn't listen to me.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 2:21 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


I kind of like the word moist actually.

I often say 'deliciously moist' with a leer.

Then again, I have been told by at least two boyfriends that really, most of the time, I shouldn't speak and they should do the thinking for me because frankly, most of what I say and do is, well, things like leering at someone while saying 'deliciously moist.'

I am not suave.

But I do have some soave in the fridge. Maybe there's some sort of osmosis that could happen...
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:23 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


It's common advice (I've given it myself) but it's by no means universally accepted on AskMe as the best way to do things. You'll often find people suggesting that using the word "date" is unnecessary or even sub-optimal.

I think it's good advice though a lot of the time. Too often, asking someone out in a way that leaves ambiguity regarding whether or not the invitation is a romantic one can lead to misunderstandings and other problems. I mean, that's one of the most common tropes in romantic comedies – one person thought it was a date, the other person thought it was just a friends thing, hilarity ensues.

It's not usually hilarious to actually be involved in such a situation in real life though, and while it can sound a little stilted and awkward I think it's often worthwhile to make the invitation explicit. I mean, asking people on dates is almost always pretty stilted and awkward anyway in my experience, so it's not like there's a lot to lose.
posted by Scientist at 2:29 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hey, Metafilter. Want to get coffee tomorrow afternoon? I mean sexually.
posted by naju at 2:36 PM on February 13, 2014 [40 favorites]


"Let me buy you a drink" or "Let me buy you dinner" is absolutely something I have said to non-romantic prospects. Like, people I would like to ply for networking connections, or who I would like to thank for some nice gesture. I hope i haven't been implying, this whole time, that I want to date them...

That kind of terminology also falls apart when we are talking about activity dates. "Let me take you rock climbing" sounds (a) weird if they are already rock-climbers, or (b) like something you'd say to any non-rock-climber who you wanted to share the joys of rock climbing with.

(Sidenote: This thread again confirms why, as nice a place as it seems, I really would not do well in Seattle.)
posted by muddgirl at 2:39 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Coffee and sex tomorrow? No? What, you don't like coffee?
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:39 PM on February 13, 2014 [14 favorites]


Depends, do you have cupholders installed?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:40 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


"inb4 circlejerk about the phrase moist being awful"

People's attestations about their aversion (or not) to this word are (for those familiar with the discussion) tiresome, I agree.

However, more scholarly, data-driven discussion of word aversion and particularly that involving moist is quite interesting and for those intrigued, I recommend this somewhat recent post on Language Log, which links to a bunch of earlier discussions on LL of the topic.

Word aversion is very interesting in that clearly for some people it's somehow semantic but for others it's the orthography or phonetics. Or, perhaps, some difficult to disentangle combination of these things, and one where the various elements are not easily available for introspective examination.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:41 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Honestly, the only times I've ever used the word "date" in making a plan with someone was when it was clearly hyperbole. Also, Lutoslawski's comment reminded me of a junior coworker years ago, who used to stick his head in my office at really rushed, really frantic moments and say, "Sex later, right?" It never failed to raise my spirits.
posted by janey47 at 2:42 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Dating" is an archaic word, and an archaic concept for most people by now.

People said that in the 80’s too. They were wrong then too. Watch any movie since the beginning of movies. People say "would you like to go to dinner?" followed by "a date" only if the point needs clarifying. Things don’t change nearly as much as people like to think they do.

Also, waggle the eyebrows.

Yeah, way to exclude us who are waggle impaired.
posted by bongo_x at 2:43 PM on February 13, 2014


(Faux awkwardness by someone who actually is "suave" is the worst though!)
If this is a thing, I am never meeting a new person again.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:55 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'm in my early 30s, and pretty sure I've only ever used the word "date" when already in relationships or in situations where it was obviously not accurate (e.g. when I broke up with someone I was dating and one of our mutual friends said "but we can still go on dates, right?"). That said, I have wished that people would use it more often, and vowed to use it if I ever am brave enough to ask anyone out, in order to avoid that terrible moment mid-coffee when you realize that you are excited about discussing your research and they want to make out.

My favorite trying-to-avoid-ambiguity moment in being asked out, though, was when someone cornered me in the library and asked "Are you free on Friday to go out to dinner?" and then paused to clarify: "with me?"
posted by dizziest at 2:59 PM on February 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


> And again, "become a much more sophisticated human being, you gorp" is probably not going to help any of those askers. Or anyway, not by this weekend, or before that cutie leaves the library.

I have until next weekend, would that work?
posted by Renegade Duck at 3:02 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


So what y'all are saying is that different people have different life experiences in different parts of the world?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:05 PM on February 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


My favorite trying-to-avoid-ambiguity moment in being asked out, though, was when someone cornered me in the library and asked "Are you free on Friday to go out to dinner?" and then paused to clarify: "with me?"

That is so fucking adorkable I would say yes on general principles.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:06 PM on February 13, 2014 [27 favorites]


People said that in the 80’s too. They were wrong then too.

Your norms are not everyone else's norms.

Yes and yes. I hear the word 'dating' and 'date' enough among the teens in my family to know it's still used. I have no doubt plenty of people don't use it, but plenty do. And it's probably always been that way. Any sweeping idea that no one uses it is simply not true at all.

And I'm not so far out of college to know that 'let's hang out' easily means 'let's hook up', which is, for most people, not dating. The word date is much clearer, and if a person is 'suave', they can get the word date into the conversation without sounding like a dork (not that there's anything wrong with that).
posted by justgary at 3:08 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is culture specific I think, given that Ask would be more US centric than not. In Europe, nipping out to the supermarket turned out to be what you call a date when he whipped out his credit card and made it an obvious point that he wished to pay for mine. And I let him do it. After a murmured protest of course with a touch of my hand to my purse then subsided. Quite clear in its own silent way about the shift in status. no, lets not get into the embedded machoness of the whole thing now, its not like i'm a girl anymore
posted by infini at 3:09 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


And the answer is, "because if for whatever reason you're not smooth enough to navigate dating with purely ambiguous terminology, using CLEAR terminology might work better for you."

This.
posted by infini at 3:13 PM on February 13, 2014


(Faux awkwardness by someone who actually is "suave" is the worst though!)

If this is a thing, I am never meeting a new person again.


Oh man. I sure hope it's not a BIG thing, but I have seen it done. Think Hugh Grant, but done consciously by someone who's actually supremely confident in the outcome.
posted by like_a_friend at 3:17 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


That is so fucking adorkable I would say yes on general principles.

That's pretty much exactly what I did. We dated for a while. It didn't work out, but we're good friends now. I have never teased him about this, ever, because I think it would embarrass him, but I have wanted to so so many times.
posted by dizziest at 3:18 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


Think Hugh Grant, but done consciously by someone who's actually supremely confident in the outcome.

Oh ugh.

I have never teased him about this, ever, because I think it would embarrass him, but I have wanted to so so many times.

I would so have teased him about it. While dating at least. It's seriously one of the cutest things I have ever heard.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:20 PM on February 13, 2014


Caveat that everyone has different experiences and expectations. But I'd say it's not even a smooth/suave thing, it's just not falling on the sword of making a grand statement of your intentions. You should be able to phrase things in a way where it's pretty obvious what you mean, but both of you can kinda be casual about the whole thing at the same time. There's enough pressure as it is, just suggest something in a relaxed way, so you can both treat it that way if need be. It's a courtesy to both you and your date. The negative scenario shouldn't be "that was a DATE that FAILED," it should be "we hung out and probably nothing more will happen and that's OK."
posted by naju at 3:20 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


when i (a woman who dates all genders) have asked women out i've absolutely used the line "can i take you out on a date?". i started doing this after one of them didn't realize i was asking her out and there was some weirdness. i like to front load the weird.
posted by nadawi at 3:29 PM on February 13, 2014 [19 favorites]


Metafilter: i like to front load the weird
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:30 PM on February 13, 2014 [30 favorites]


New guidelines recommend saying "can I take you out on a wet date" for clarity. Also, waggle the eyebrows.

Ideally your own eyebrows. If that doesn't work you can waggle your intended date's eyebrows. Waggling the eyebrows of uninvolved bystanders is generally considered ... not suave.
posted by this is a thing at 3:31 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Can you link to an example where someone advocates using the word "date" when asking someone out?

This is in pretty much all dating threads...or at least the "does he/she just see me as a friend or what?" ones....I don't think a link is necessary!
posted by bquarters at 3:31 PM on February 13, 2014


re: sexy coffee - my best friend's mom (who was kind of like my mom for some time) decided when i was in high school that when i told her i was getting coffee with someone that i meant we were going to fool around (she wasn't wrong). this led to her yelling out the door after me quite frequently, "no coffee!!" so now, no matter how unconnected to sexy times it is, when someone asks me to get coffee i burst into giggles.
posted by nadawi at 3:31 PM on February 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


But I'd say it's not even a smooth/suave thing, it's just not falling on the sword of making a grand statement of your intentions.

I would posit that one can just as easily fall on the sword of refusing to state intentions. See nadawi's example above.

You should be able to phrase things in a way where it's pretty obvious what you mean, but both of you can kinda be casual about the whole thing at the same time.

Again, nobody is saying it's not a possible thing to ask someone out, unambiguously, without saying "date." I think most of us here have probably been on dates that we knew were dates, even though nobody said the word. What we're saying is that not everyone is skilled at making that happen.

Sidebar: are people really super-surprised that ON METAFILTER, romantic advice has skewed heavily toward the earnest and awkward?
posted by like_a_friend at 3:31 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sidebar: are people really super-surprised that ON METAFILTER, romantic advice has skewed heavily toward the earnest and awkward?

I find it curious that simply asking for what one wants is found earnest and awkward.
posted by mr. digits at 3:33 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


For me, earnest and awkward beats overly smooth and suave every single time.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:34 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


Well, earnest by definition. But self-confidence is hardly awkward, per se.
posted by mr. digits at 3:35 PM on February 13, 2014


Ambiguity is a natural part of face saving.

tl;dr: See Ask vs Guess culture
posted by infini at 3:38 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Just have this engraved on a nice card:


The honour of your presence is requested
for a romantic outing at eight o'clock in the evening
Friday, February Fourteenth
Year of our Lord Two thousand fourteen

 
posted by double block and bleed at 3:38 PM on February 13, 2014 [21 favorites]


don't ... don't ask someone out on a first date on Valentine's Day.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:40 PM on February 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


But there's a party starting at seven o' clock in the sauna...

*laminates engraved invitation*
posted by infini at 3:41 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ambiguity is a natural part of face saving.

tl;dr: See Ask vs Guess culture


And also seen in Ask v Guess culture: ambiguity can create embarassment and problems.

So it depends: do you bias towards face saving in the "oh no this wasnt a date" / avoid rejection when asking kind of way, or in the "I want to make sure its a date so I dont suddenly hear her talk about her boyfriend while we're at the romantic dinner..."

I think stating it up front means a potential for instant, quick rejection, vs. not saying it and facing potentially drawn-out awkward embarassment. Others put the weights in a different direction.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:44 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the mapping of this to Ask vs Guess culture totally reframed everything for me.
posted by naju at 3:46 PM on February 13, 2014


Is there any word other than "date" people could use to clarify whether or not a one-on-one social outing was a "romantic" or "casual-friendship" enterprise? I can only think of various kinds of circumlocution. I mean, for those who are saying that "date" is a word from the 1950s that no one today would use, what would you put in it's place in, say, this exchange:

"Would you like to go out sometime?"
"You mean, like, on a date?"
posted by yoink at 3:47 PM on February 13, 2014


No, I don't think that's what it is. I know I used 'sliver of ambiguity' but I think it's actually not ambiguous, in the cases I'm talking about. Again, not advocating for 'let's hang out some time.' It just strikes me as awkward phrasing - what really reframed it for me is the suggestion that it's a cultural difference. Maybe in SF for 20-30somethings this would be archaic but not for others.

Anyway, I apologize for offending anyone who feels that I've called their ways unsuave. As my boyfriend put it, asking out is an already sensitive topic, so I don't need to inadvertently make people feel more sensitive about it. He's a much more sensitive man than I am. Who asked me out for the first time by offering to 'get drinks Friday night.'
posted by namesarehard at 3:49 PM on February 13, 2014


I'm sooo glad that I got married 20 years ago and completely missed online dating.
posted by double block and bleed at 3:49 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


I mean, for those who are saying that "date" is a word from the 1950s that no one today would use, what would you put in it's place in, say, this exchange:

"Would you like to go out sometime?"
"You mean, like, on a date?"


I believe the idea is that nobody should ever say the second thing.
posted by like_a_friend at 3:50 PM on February 13, 2014


completely missed online dating.

Actually this is one thing online dating avoids. I mean, technically some people use those sites for making friends, but the default assumption is that its a date. That avoids the whole issue (basically flipping it around, if you want to ask someone out as friends on OKC or something you should probably be clear that its NOT a date).
posted by wildcrdj at 3:52 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm sooo glad that I got married 20 years ago and completely missed online dating.

Oh, this is one of the (few) things online dating excels in. Very little room for "just friend hangs?" ambiguity. Lots of other ambiguity, sure, just not that.
posted by naju at 3:52 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


like_a_friend: " I believe the idea is that nobody should ever say the second thing."

So what are people supposed to do when asked "Would you like to go out sometime" if they're not sure whether the person means "as platonic friends" or "with an eye to possible romantic involvement"? Go and hope for the best? Refuse to avoid potential awkwardness?

Why not just ask? "Do you mean like a date?"
posted by Lexica at 3:53 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


Just have this engraved on a nice card:
Make sure you get a good rate on all 100 cards, because... hedging your bets shouldn't have to cut into your budget for the evening.

Before I started dating online I had never been on an actual date with someone I wasn't already in a relationship with. See, I was living in the Purgatory of Serial Monogamy. Ergo, I didn't actually hear the word terribly often unless it was in reference to a Thing that We Did. Yet, I don't think asking someone on a date with the word "date" is awkward. I think trying to hold onto your pride by injecting artificial mystery into your intentions is, though.

I also think the word suave is kind of awkward. Not picking on anyone, just saying.

Online dating skips this whole mess of whether it's a date, for the most part, except when the first date is not a date, it's a "meet." Argh.
posted by sm1tten at 3:53 PM on February 13, 2014


i just remembered that my husband and i often say "date" when we're asking each other out to differentiate it from "lets run errands and grab a bite to eat."
posted by nadawi at 3:53 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


I believe the idea is that nobody should ever say the second thing.

I cannot imagine a coherent argument being made to support the claim that it is in any way inappropriate or unfair for somebody to seek clarification about the nature of the social transaction they're being asked to engage in. Especially when it comes to romantic and potentially sexual matters. That seems like a road which is guaranteed to lead to all kinds of unpleasant kinds of emotional coercion.
posted by yoink at 3:54 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


i just remembered that my husband and i often say "date" when we're asking each other out to differentiate it from "lets run errands and grab a bite to eat."

Yes! We also do this! Then again, one of the perks of marriage is that it's free licence to drop whatever pretense of suavity you were maintaining, so who the hell knows.
posted by this is a thing at 3:54 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


I do like the quoted "are you free for dinner....with me". I would like that. That's charmingly unambiguously ambigous.
posted by bquarters at 3:55 PM on February 13, 2014


Ask vs guess culture is a highly useful framing device for this, yes. Although I'd wager that an awful lot of people who identify with "ask culture" in 99% of their lives suddenly become "guess culture" in their dating habits.

Is this maybe also a thing where in a lot of cultural subsets nowadays, exclusivity is less emphasized, while the word "date" has a lot of baggage about seriousness? It seems like online dating has reeeeeeeallllllllllly made it hard for me, or my immediate circle, to take the word "date" as a signal for anything approaching exclusivity. But if all your dating world is "amorphous relationships forming in a large but close friend group" (also known as college) then yeah, someone saying "date" would seem either clueless, or like they meant srs bizness.
posted by like_a_friend at 3:55 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


one of the perks of marriage is that it's free licence to drop whatever pretense of suavity you were maintaining

yeah, we're not particularly suave people. with zero planning (but lots of lead up conversations) i "proposed" to my husband by saying, "i would like to be married to you" while laying on a giant non-beanbag.
posted by nadawi at 3:57 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I give it probably a generation or two before the word "relationship" becomes corny and archaic. Haha *sob*
posted by naju at 3:57 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Back when I was a kid, we called it swingin' on the flippity-flop.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:58 PM on February 13, 2014 [9 favorites]


like_a_friend: " I believe the idea is that nobody should ever say the second thing."

So what are people supposed to do when asked "Would you like to go out sometime" if they're not sure whether the person means "as platonic friends" or "with an eye to possible romantic involvement"? Go and hope for the best? Refuse to avoid potential awkwardness?

I cannot imagine a coherent argument being made to support the claim that it is in any way inappropriate or unfair for somebody to seek clarification about the nature of the social transaction they're being asked to engage in.



WHOA didn't preview. I would like to clarify that I, personally, think ambiguity in dating is 100% for the birds, and that people should use their words and clearly telegraph both their intentions and their desire for clarification.

The argument against this is apparently that it's kind of dorky?
posted by like_a_friend at 3:58 PM on February 13, 2014


Admiral Haddock: "Back when I was a kid, we called it swingin' on the flippity-flop."

"So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time."
posted by double block and bleed at 4:04 PM on February 13, 2014 [10 favorites]


Also ambiguity works much better in a college or large-friend-group situation where at least you can predict what people might think is a date or not.

With my fiancee, I made the mistake of phrasing what I thought was clearly a date in a technically-ambiguous way (instead of saying "date"). If she was American it would probably have been clear, but since she's from another culture with a different native language, it apparently was not. Obviously things worked out, but there was indeed an awkward moment on our "first date".
posted by wildcrdj at 4:07 PM on February 13, 2014


So it depends: do you bias towards face saving in the "oh no this wasnt a date" / avoid rejection when asking kind of way, or in the "I want to make sure its a date so I dont suddenly hear her talk about her boyfriend while we're at the romantic dinner..."

This scenario then implies that you don't really know the person you are asking out well enough as opposed to situations where you know said person through some social circle, and thus their status.

Maybe that's what makes it archaic... guy meets girl in a bar, scribbles phone number, waits till Tuesday to call, this is lifted from a book I heard about in Cosmopolitan in the early Noughties etc

I also think we are all interpreting ambiguity differently and agree that saying the word date injects an awkwardness that can ward off potential suitors, sort of like garlic for example.
posted by infini at 4:07 PM on February 13, 2014


as opposed to situations where you know said person through some social circle, and thus their status.

Yeah thats a big difference, and almost none of my dating has been through my normal social circle (since its heavily made up of couples). So when I think "dating" its either someone I met in a kind of chance thing or online dating (which does avoid the issue and has a clear way of stating things like status).

I don't think the "asking someone you don't really know out" thing is archaic, but it is more common in some places and some types of people than others.
posted by wildcrdj at 4:12 PM on February 13, 2014


This scenario then implies that you don't really know the person you are asking out well enough as opposed to situations where you know said person through some social circle, and thus their status.

Maybe that's what makes it archaic... guy meets girl in a bar, scribbles phone number, waits till Tuesday to call, this is lifted from a book I heard about in Cosmopolitan in the early Noughties etc


I.... this is archaic? How does OKC continue to exist, then?
posted by like_a_friend at 4:12 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


ambiguity works much better in a college or large-friend-group situation where at least you can predict what people might think is a date or not.

maybe it was my particular friend group - but i actually found it more helpful to be explicit in that case. there was a lot of platonic hanging out, friends with benefits, dating, exes, and all around drama - i valued directness because there were just so many fluid relationship dynamics at work and it was easy to misread.
posted by nadawi at 4:14 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


One of the interesting things about this thread is that while there are those arguing that the word "date" is out of date (ha!), no one seems to think that's because what it describes no longer exists. That is, even the people who are strongest against use of the word are recognizing that there's a strong difference between just going out to eat with someone "as a friend" and going out with someone "on a date."

I think that very fact--and the fact that the implications, expectations etc. of a "date" are very different from those of just "hanging out"--explains why it's probably a good idea to screw your courage to the sticking place and actually use the dreaded "d-word" when what you actually want to have is a "date." Preserving "plausible deniability" so that you can save face really isn't all that respectable a motive for risking putting some other human being whom you like well enough to want to "date" in a potentially false and unhappy situation.
posted by yoink at 4:14 PM on February 13, 2014 [15 favorites]


the rules, sorry I meant The Rules are archaic, OKC doesn't imply meeting stranger in a bar but getting emails of potential matches even after you've unsubscribed
posted by infini at 4:14 PM on February 13, 2014


the rules, sorry I meant The Rules are archaic

Oh yeah, that makes sense.
posted by wildcrdj at 4:15 PM on February 13, 2014


i don't see a lot of people advocating "the rules" on metafilter. it has happened a time or two, but those people are usually largely disagreed with. i think specifying date is a pretty different thing.
posted by nadawi at 4:16 PM on February 13, 2014


Preserving "plausible deniability" so that you can save face really isn't all that respectable a motive for risking putting some other human being whom you like well enough to want to "date" in a potentially false and unhappy situation.

Well said. Now how to pass this message on to all the half grown boys who are old enough to be men that I know?
posted by infini at 4:16 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


My go-to move when I did this sort of thing was sending around a card that said "Would you like some making fuck?" with a YES, a NO, and a MAYBE box clearly delineated.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:17 PM on February 13, 2014 [17 favorites]


i would not even respond to that card if one of the boxes wasn't BERSERKER.
posted by nadawi at 4:18 PM on February 13, 2014 [38 favorites]


the rules, sorry I meant The Rules are archaic,

Ahhh that makes more sense.

I feel like the moral of the story is, everyone wants a cheat code for this kind of stuff, but some people want the cheat code to be "never declare! never let em see you sweat!" and the others want it to be "just say the thing and take your lumps."
posted by like_a_friend at 4:18 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


and the others want it to be "just say the thing and take your lumps."

But that's not a cheat code. That's doing the difficult, direct, risky thing.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:19 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


My now-girlfriend clarified to me, early on, that she wasn't flirting with me and if she decided to flirt with me she would tell me that, with words. It was tremendously relaxing to not have to play the but-what-did-that-meeeeeaan game, actually. (We didn't really do the "going out on a date" thing because we're long-distance, but we certainly used that word to talk about what we were doing.)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:21 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


I should clarify my earlier facetious comment, given nadawi's simultaneous comment that I didn't preview:

I am not saying its better to be ambiguous or better to say date. Of course hearts are not broken when its made clear to both parties that there is romantic intent involved and not the back and forth dance of "is it/isn't it".

But the reality is that people are awkward and shy and private and scrunched up inside so more often than not they don't follow the suggestions so helpfully given in Ask and instead do these inadvertently hurtful things to each other.

In that context then, the question becomes, how do we navigate the best way we can, in order to preserve teh best possible outcomes as time offers enough familiarity and confidence building to actually reach the point of being comfortable enough to admit to 'feeling something'?

Hypothetical advice or idealism won't help me in my IRL snafus, being pragmatic about the situation will.

At least, imho.
posted by infini at 4:22 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I believe the idea is that nobody should ever say the second thing.


WOAH WOAH WOAH,

ok i can't speak for the rest of team "no one says this", but my point was that no one on the asking out side says it*. The person who is receiving the invite can absolutely clarify. Not that i've ever seen it happen, but that wouldn't be weird/awkward for the reasons i'm imagining or describing.

The entire framework of what i'm describing seems to exist so that the person receiving the invitation can commit to hanging out with the person without it being a defacto date. If they want to clarify and make it a date for sure, that doesn't add any new awkwardness or force the rejection eject lever responsibility on them immediately.

Get it?

yes, i realize, this is where i'm located and a personal experience
posted by emptythought at 4:25 PM on February 13, 2014


but my point was that no one on the asking out side says it

Except we do.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:26 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


That's the thing about promulgating social norms. If you've gotta specify out loud that something Isn't Done, it's decent evidence that there's a bunch of people out there doing it.
posted by this is a thing at 4:30 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


The entire framework of what i'm describing seems to exist so that the person receiving the invitation can commit to hanging out with the person without it being a defacto date.

Except that while that sounds like a level-playing-field situation, it's actually not. Because Asker has definite information about what kind of situation s/he wants this to be, but Askee doesn't. So Askee might not even think "is this a date or not?" until the date is actually in progress. Which is a damned uncomfortable position to be in ("Oh, fuck, how do I let him/her realize I thought this was just a 'we're friends hanging out' situation?").

So, again, it just seems to me that there's an onus on Asker to actually make it clear what is being asked because it just isn't actually true that Askee has a "choice" about whether or not to clarify the situation in any meaningful sense except in those cases where they already have a pretty good inkling what's afoot.

And, in any case, why should it be up to Askee to do the brave thing? What's so "cool" or "suave" or what have you about putting someone else--again, someone you supposedly like--in the awkward position of having to choose whether to either ask a socially difficult question or to engage in an unclear and potentially embarrassing social encounter?
posted by yoink at 4:34 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


There's probably some age related stuff going on with phrasing, too. I wouldn't have used "date" as a teenager or in college, but in my mid 30's it felt less awkward to be straightforward.

I'm not currently on the market, but I agree with this. Sometimes context or tone of voice is sufficient to remove ambiguity, but when it isn't you either need to use phrases like "no, I mean HANG OUT hang out," or just toughen up and use the D-word.

In fact, this is exactly what I do (in reverse) when I ask a female friend or acquaintance to hang out, to remove any possibility that she might think I"m trying to ask her out -- adding clarity makes everyone happy and comfortable. An undifferentiated "wanna hang out?" is the worst of both worlds, whether you are trying to date or not.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:34 PM on February 13, 2014


An undifferentiated "wanna hang out?" is the worst of both worlds, whether you are trying to date or not.

agreed! a snippet of my teen years - "wanna hang out?" "uh, nadawi, i don't like girls..." "oh god! no! i mean, hang out. like, make shit food and make fun of people we know!"
posted by nadawi at 4:40 PM on February 13, 2014


Except we do.

Can you give it a rest? i already acknowledged that this isn't some universal country wide experience, just that it's pervasive in my city and i hear people talk/complain about it constantly, so it's not just me or my friend group in this specific city. You don't need to keep grabbing half-sentence pull quotes out of my posts to beat that horse to death. Nowhere am i saying this is some kind of international law.

Yoink: I think that very fact--and the fact that the implications, expectations etc. of a "date" are very different from those of just "hanging out"--explains why it's probably a good idea to screw your courage to the sticking place and actually use the dreaded "d-word" when what you actually want to have is a "date." Preserving "plausible deniability" so that you can save face really isn't all that respectable a motive for risking putting some other human being whom you like well enough to want to "date" in a potentially false and unhappy situation.

And i think this burden falls squarely on the people being asked out who won't go on actual first dates, only ambigious things.

This arms race was not started by the people asking out saying "wanna go hang out and do $ACTIVITY?", it was started by the people being asked out only doing "casual hang outs" and rejecting anything that's a capitol D date, which slowly led to no one going on dates that they actually called that until the 4th date or whatever.

I'm not advocating this in any way, i think it's fucking dumb. But it's something i've noticed and talked about with people all up and down the west coast, who are under 30 and either run in music or nerdy circles, which are the two groups i tend to hang around with.

On preview/proof

Except that while that sounds like a level-playing-field situation, it's actually not. Because Asker has definite information about what kind of situation s/he wants this to be, but Askee doesn't. So Askee might not even think "is this a date or not?" until the date is actually in progress. Which is a damned uncomfortable position to be in ("Oh, fuck, how do I let him/her realize I thought this was just a 'we're friends hanging out' situation?").

So, again, it just seems to me that there's an onus on Asker to actually make it clear what is being asked because it just isn't actually true that Askee has a "choice" about whether or not to clarify the situation in any meaningful sense except in those cases where they already have a pretty good inkling what's afoot.


In all the situations i'm imagining the asker obviously has something in mind, but the askee knows that as well by the type of activity suggested and whatever led up to being asked in the first place. Is there ambiguity here? yea. But is it keeping the askee in the dark as much as your describing? i don't think so. It's simply allowing them a much less awkward "out" to the situation if it ends up not being their thing.

While i get why it's awkward for the reasons you're describing, and i think it can even create a negative situation later for both parties, i maintain that the point from what i've seen is so they can shut it down later over text and not have to shoot the person down to their face. That, or either feign ignorance it was ever a date or in a non awkward/stressful real life situation go "sorry, i wasn't really into it".

The entire thing is structured around both people being able to avoid the "Will you go on a date?" "No" direct exchange, face saving, etc.

Again, i'm not saying i get this, or think it isn't stupid, just observations and conclusions of conversations shared over beers with other people my age.

Fuckin 21st century, and shit.
posted by emptythought at 4:41 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


But that's not a cheat code. That's doing the difficult, direct, risky thing.

Yeah cheat code was the wrong word. People just want a rule that everyone will follow, and for the thing that they prefer doing to be the thing That Is Done. ;)

In all the situations i'm imagining the asker obviously has something in mind, but the askee knows that as well by the type of activity suggested and whatever led up to being asked in the first place.

For what it's worth, this really doesn't describe the AskMe questions that were the focus of this post. If everyone knew what was implicitly on the table, there would be no AskMe question. The whole point is that a lot of the time, at least one party --maybe both!!-- has no idea what is implied by rock climbing on the day after Valentine's day.

The "use the word date" advice DOES NOT APPLY if both parties are happily vibing in a totally apparent sexy way! It applies to those situations where one or both people are not sure if happy sexy vibing is happening or not! In the situation you describe, it's a non issue. In the AskMes, it's usually "I don't know what a good signal is," "I don't know what an appropriate date looks like," or "I know but I have zero courage someone kick me in the ass so I get it together."
posted by like_a_friend at 4:47 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well, I asked an actual person who actually lives in actual Seattle and who is not married or otherwise long-term partnered, and who dates people, and she says that language like "Would you like to go out with me sometime? Like, on a date?" is common, reasonable, and refreshingly unambiguous. So there.
posted by KathrynT at 4:47 PM on February 13, 2014 [13 favorites]


"That is, even the people who are strongest against use of the word are recognizing that there's a strong difference between just going out to eat with someone 'as a friend' and going out with someone 'on a date.'"

That's not so true for me, really. And I'm really old (49). But that's also because of my personality. I've gone on very, very few "dates" in my life. Honestly, I can only think of ... two? Not counting high school. Okay, counting high school, there's maybe four more. But I've had sex with a moderate number of partners and been in a number of relationships.

So, for me in my life, the "we're doing something as a romantic couple in a ritual of courtship" thing that is a date has been almost entirely absent. I've always navigated that initial romantic/sexual territory in a different way. Either by just being friends for a while (with developing attraction) or by basically jumping into bed and then getting to know each other. In the latter case, and in established relationships, I haven't "dated" because it's more just doing stuff — it's not an activity that's segregated in that way.

Now, the thing that is different in my experience from other people's is that I've never been in any ongoing sexual/romantic relationships with more than one person at a time. In that kind of scenario, then I can see how you'd be in that initial stage of more formalized romantic "events". You're not moving quickly on to the more casual being a couple, and you're also not just sort of hanging out and having sex occasionally, which is also not dating.

I guess what I'm driving at is that this semi-formal romantic/sexual social ritual may depend upon people having habits that are in-between either the hookup scene and tending toward being serious and exclusive fairly quickly. Which, for some people in some cultures, is arguably more healthy because you're exploring that middle-ground between hooking up and being serious. But not all of us do spend much time in that situation and, more to the point, some of us don't really want to. For me, this "we're going out as a couple to explore the possibilities of romance/sex between us but doing it in a semi-formalized fashion" is basically the last thing in the world I want to do. I'd rather be in business meeting.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:47 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


An anonymous user wanted to remark:
Only one person has ever used the word "date" when asking me out. It was a MeFite. It was jarring and funny, but it also came across as very confident and it was very, very sexy.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:49 PM on February 13, 2014 [10 favorites]


I'd rather be in business meeting.

Wearing business socks, I assume?
posted by yoink at 4:51 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I really wish people would say it more. I've been on both sides of "oh, er... I thought we were just hanging out as friends" and, while it makes a funny story, it's excruciating at the time. That probably says more about my social maladroitness than anything else, as I'm very much in the "Use words! Words that mean things!" camp in every aspect of life.

With that said, what I count as my first date with my current SO definitely wasn't actually a date, as we were only alone together because the third person didn't show up. It was pretty much a perfect first date except that, at the time, neither of us thought it was one.
posted by metaBugs at 4:53 PM on February 13, 2014


That's not so true for me, really. And I'm really old (49). But that's also because of my personality. I've gone on very, very few "dates" in my life.

More seriously: sure, that describes me, too (as does "really old," alas). I'm not, though, saying that everyone should go on "dates," and that that's the royal road to a fulfilling romantic life. I'm simply arguing that if you are going on what is clearly something best described as a "date" then you should make it clear that that's what you're doing. Obviously there's nothing wrong with asking someone out 'to get dinner' or 'to go to a movie' if you aren't, in fact, thinking of it as anything like a "date." That is, if you're just (genuinely) thinking of it as "getting to know this person whose company I enjoy" and then it happens to lead organically into something else.

But in that case there's no "plausible deniability," none of this bullshit "who's got the power" gamesmanship stuff. Because there's nothing there to deny.
posted by yoink at 4:59 PM on February 13, 2014


In Toronto in grade 5 it was "going around."
"Do you wanna go around with me?"


I'm not sure why, exactly, but something about this phrasing strikes me as almost unbearably Canadian.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:04 PM on February 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


We might be overthinking a plate of dates.
posted by naju at 5:05 PM on February 13, 2014 [9 favorites]


Can you give it a rest?

Sure, when you stop speaking in absolutes. Deal? I see KathrynT has also pointed out it's not even universal where you live, so how about you give it a rest eh?

In all the situations i'm imagining the asker obviously has something in mind, but the askee knows that as well by the type of activity suggested and whatever led up to being asked in the first place

The situations you're imagining are not the situations which prompt people asking these questions. I would also hazard a guess that you have not been in an I-didn't-know-this-was-romantic/sexytimes situation when the person who thought it was is bigger and stronger than you are. That can be actually scary for a guy who never really has to worry about unwanted sexual attention being forced on him. Imagine how much scarier it is for women who have to worry about this every damn day.

More to the point, I have been asked to grab drinks/watch a movie/play video games when I thought it was totally platonic, and had it become incredibly awkward when it became clear their intentions were otherwise, up to and including unwanted hands in my pants. Why the fuck is it my responsibility to clarify someone else's intentions? Seriously, why?

And i think this burden falls squarely on the people being asked out who won't go on actual first dates, only ambigious things.

Again, why? It is your responsibility to communicate your intentions. It is not mine to magically guess that you intend something other than what your words are saying.

Seriously, you need to explain why clarifying your actions is someone else's responsibility.

"Do you wanna go around with me?"

I'm not sure why, exactly, but something about this phrasing strikes me as almost unbearably Canadian.


More specifically, it sounds very Northern Ontario/Prairies to me.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:11 PM on February 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


That's not so true for me, really. And I'm really old (49). But that's also because of my personality. I've gone on very, very few "dates" in my life.

I resemble this comment but object to turning really old next year because
posted by infini at 5:27 PM on February 13, 2014


I resemble this comment but object to turning really old next year because

Yes, as we get older we quite often just forget what it was that we were about to
posted by yoink at 5:33 PM on February 13, 2014 [9 favorites]


desirable men leave a SLIVER (I'm not talking about game-playing, I'm not talking about 'let's hang out' - that shit is lame) of ambiguity, don't they?

No.

You don't have to explicitly use the word "date", but it needs to be undeniably clear that it's a romantic thing.

You can call it "go out" if you want. You can not use any particular word but set up an outing that is very clearly a romantic thing.

Who gets off on not being sure whether they're on a date or not?
posted by Sara C. at 5:34 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


What if you aren't sure you have a romantic interest and would like to spend some time with the person to explore that? "Date" has the connotation of a romantic interest. "Pre-date"?. Date and dating also implies sex in some contexts.

I've been in a few long-term relationships over the years. Never once have I asked someone or been asked to go out on a "date" previous to the relationship. I've been on "date night" after being in an established relationship.

I, who can't write and millions of wannabe screenwriters would love to know the proper format whereby one declares an interest in becoming mutually interested while simultaneously minimizing both the pressure on the person you are asking and the risk of an awkward rejection. Movies could be written. It's difficult, if not unhealthy, to have a relationship where you are in love and the person you are in love with is merely in like. Probably most of us here have experienced this.

Fill in the blank, any who have managed this trick, "Hi,                               ".

You must have actually said this.
posted by vapidave at 5:38 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


What if you aren't sure you have a romantic interest and would like to spend some time with the person to explore that?

i totally get what you're saying. i just feel like the questions on askme that get the "use the word date" advice aren't these situations.
posted by nadawi at 5:43 PM on February 13, 2014


What if you aren't sure you have a romantic interest and would like to spend some time with the person to explore that?

Well then, your feelings are ambiguous, so ambiguity is fine! "Do you want to hang out sometime?" "Do you want to go see a movie, grab a bite to eat?" "Wanna go to the zoo with me next weekend?" All fine. In none of those cases are you keeping knowledge from the askee that you are absolutely certain about.
posted by KathrynT at 5:44 PM on February 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


As someone with no dating experience at all and little social ability to speak of, this thread makes me feel horribly tired.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:44 PM on February 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


What if you aren't sure you have a romantic interest and would like to spend some time with the person to explore that? "Date" has the connotation of a romantic interest.

See, this is a situation where "hang out" is a viking! Because that is what you wanna do: hang. Out.

The AskMe questions this MeTa referenced are taking place mostly after a few hangouts, when the asker is thinking they want sexytimes to maybe get underway, but seems to be stuck in a platonic hangout loop.

-If the other person is giving off clear "sex is on" signals, then AskMe will usually say just make a romantical move the next time "hanging out" happens.
-If the other person is giving off clear "sex is off" signals, then AskMe will say you are friends and that is that.
-If the other person is giving off unclear signals, AskMe will advise you to use the goddamn word "date" and then everyone is clued in to the situation.

But almost all of the questions are the 3rd category, so the "say date" advice comes out a lot.
posted by like_a_friend at 5:46 PM on February 13, 2014 [14 favorites]


Man the two Seattlites whose wedding I attended this past fall must have really shocked each other when the now-husband asked the now-wife on their first date by saying "I'd like to go on a date with you" and she said she'd love to. Also the handful of Seattle people who have asked me out on dates using the word date must have been ghosts.
posted by Mizu at 5:50 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'm 34 and I don't think I've ever asked someone out on a "date" unironically. It sounds like you want to take them to dinner in 1950.

But, whatever, the advice is "clearly and unambiguously signal that you are interested in a romantic get together." Whether that in indication comes in the form of "we should grab dinner and drinks together sometime, just you and me" or in the form of "beep boop please go on a date with me" is largely irrelevant.

In either case, the recipient is likely to already know the answer to the question of whether they want a romantic soiree with the asker, and the specific wording of the question is unlikely to sway that.
posted by 256 at 5:52 PM on February 13, 2014


I want a 2 year warranty as well. With an option for repair, replacement or returns.
posted by infini at 5:52 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also the handful of Seattle people who have asked me out on dates using the word date must have been ghosts.

It's quite likely. Ghosts are always pitching woo.
posted by yoink at 5:53 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I keep getting in trouble with my boyfriend when I talk about trading him in next year for a new model, infini. Tread carefully...
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:53 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


For that matter I must also be a ghost! Oh, shit, ghosts can't ty-
posted by Mizu at 5:54 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just realized its almost 4am and its been years since a thread had me hitting the refresh button and catching up with members I haven't seen 'live' since SFO half a decade ago.

And, we're not fighting nor is this ugly grar...

**hugs everyone because the website told me to do it adn besides tomorrow is valentines and there's the sochi ice hockey so I guess I will be here again
posted by infini at 5:57 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


I am really very old as well, and probably full of outdated vocabulary but this discussion keeps reminding me of the long beginning of my relationship with the man who is now my husband. We met in college and we were friends and hung out with a large group, and, I dunno, drank beers sometimes for about seven years. One day, he called me and asked if I wanted to go to a movie, and I said sure and I just assumed it was a group event. We always did group events! He had a girlfriend! And he shows up at my door to give me a ride, and it was just him, and I did a sit-com double-take looking around him for everyone else, and walked out to the car still looking for the rest of our friends, and even asked, "So, uh, nobody else could come?" And he mumbled something. And we went to the movie and the movie was terrible and we were awkward and there was no small talk and I was so uncomfortable and I didn't know what was happening and it was the longest movie ever. So I said I wanted to skip the dinner we talked about, he could just drop me off, but he talked me into going. And dinner was so uncomfortable! And I was so anxious! And he gave me a long spiel about how he'd always had feelings for me, he loved me, he had to say so and I freaked out because girlfriend! Old friend with a girlfriend who is also my friend! Horrible hang-out that was actually a date that I never would've agreed to if I'd known!

He dropped me off at home and we didn't speak for five months. And I really missed him and so I called him and he mentioned he'd broken up with the girlfriend a few months ago, and we agreed to go for Ethiopian. And dinner was fun and smiles all around and I gave him crap for the emotional ambush prior, and I asked him in, and he leaned over the car and said, "So, could we say this was a date?" And I said, "Yes, yes definitely."
posted by Squeak Attack at 5:58 PM on February 13, 2014 [15 favorites]


Man, the word 'ambiguity' was misused. I meant, 'unsaid.' It's good to know what someone's intentions are, but isn't it kind of sexy to leave the word 'date' unsaid? Since it's so formal and heavy? And since, with functional social skills, it's not so ambiguous to be asked out to dinner or drinks?

It's like the difference between 'would you like to come have sex with me now?' and 'would you like to come back to my place?'

'Would you like to go on a date with me?' versus 'Want to have dinner on Friday night?'

I get it though, I get it. Some people REALLY like spelling it out, and hey, my question was answered. Do some people really ask each other out like this? Turns out, yes. Power to them.
posted by namesarehard at 6:04 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


What if you aren't sure you have a romantic interest and would like to spend some time with the person to explore that?

That's not a date. That really is just Hanging Out.

The whole "is it a date" ambiguity happens when one person is not sure whether the social interaction they are taking part in is platonic or romantic.

If it is platonic, with the idea that maybe someday when one's feelings are more resolved, there could be an eventual romantic outing, that's not a date.

If it is romantic, it is generally assumed that both parties would like to consent to the romantic nature of the interaction.

I've actually had a friendship end over the discovery that when he said, "want to grab a drink sometime?" he meant, like, a date. I have lots of platonic male friends I have drinks with.
posted by Sara C. at 6:08 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


minimizing both the pressure on the person you are asking and the risk of an awkward rejection

Trust me when I say it is WAAAAAY better to be told, "I'm sorry, I don't feel that way about you," than it is to watch it suddenly dawn on your date that she's on a date. A date she doesn't want to be on and wouldn't have agreed to go on had you asked her on one.
posted by Sara C. at 6:11 PM on February 13, 2014 [22 favorites]


It's like the difference between 'would you like to come back to my place?' and 'would you like to come have sex with me now?'

Yeah, except that is also a good example of the kind of transaction that has some deeply problematic aspects with regard to consent and coercion etc. I mean, sure, there are a ton of situations and tones of voice and so on where "so...do you want to come back to my place?" clearly means "do you want to go and have sex at my place." But if we've been out on a "we're just seeing a movie together as friends" evening, the invitation to "go back to my place" can perfectly easily be understood to mean "let us go somewhere nice and comfortable and continue chatting about this fun movie we both enjoyed." And then, suddenly, there's moves being made and hands in new places and lots of potential for upset, confusion and ill-feeling.

So, yeah, I think in these matters you need to risk a measure of clunky obviousness to make sure everyone knows what they are and aren't agreeing to.
posted by yoink at 6:12 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


the white stripes and ke$ha have both dated (or at least got freaky) with a ghost.
posted by nadawi at 6:12 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Trust me when I say it is WAAAAAY better to be told, "I'm sorry, I don't feel that way about you," than it is to watch it suddenly dawn on your date that she's on a date. A date she doesn't want to be on and wouldn't have agreed to go on had you asked her on one.

Yeah, this seems like one of those classic "discounting future costs" errors we humans are so prone to.
posted by yoink at 6:14 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


The problem is that, within American culture, it is mutually agreed shorthand that "come back to my place" = "have sex" in certain entirely unambiguous contexts.

There is no assumed shorthand on the matter of dating.

Hmmmm, we should definitely invent something for this.

"Go windsurfing", maybe?
posted by Sara C. at 6:15 PM on February 13, 2014


Yoink, I kind of disagree. What you need in that circumstance is some tolerance for ambiguity. If a man asked me after a date "want to go back to my place and have sex?" which you state would be less ambiguous and I agree, I would not see that man again.
posted by namesarehard at 6:15 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


"want to go back to my place and have sex?"

I'm not actually saying that one should say this (at least, not without many "reading the room" provisos!). I'm saying that if you say "want to come back to my place" you should not assume that a succssful communication has occurred between you that is equivalent to "hey, want to have sex?"
posted by yoink at 6:18 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm still unclear on why anybody is looking for "ambiguity" in these situations?

Most people want to know if they're on a date or not.

Most people want to know if they're being invited to a second venue for the purposes of sex, or not.

I don't know if you don't know what the word "ambiguous" means, or just have a weird kink you're assuming is universal, or what?
posted by Sara C. at 6:19 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


We're clustering into 'a wee bit of ambiguity please' vs 'sock 'em in the face with a date' which makes me wonder if its also a generation thing. Not in the sense that us oldsters don't use such words but perhaps have simply lived longer thus seen more [heartbreak/awkward moments/bad dates etc] and survived?
posted by infini at 6:20 PM on February 13, 2014


If a man asked me after a date

that goes back to the topic of the thread though - if you don't know you're on a date, being asked back to their place might not register as "and now i'd like to start the kissing" - which is a good argument for being straight forward about it being a date.
posted by nadawi at 6:20 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't know if you don't know what the word "ambiguous" means, or just have a weird kink you're assuming is universal, or what?

What? There's no call for this approach here in this perfectly peaceful conversation.
posted by infini at 6:21 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


I dunno, Sara. Once you've established We Are On A Date, the contextual meaning of "Want to go back to my place?" is unambiguous. It doesn't require "want to go back to my place, bouncy bouncy?" to be clear.

Also I have had a guy (my ex, before we were actually Dating) actually say "So uh, want to go back to your place and get naked?"

Then again I'm kind of easy
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:22 PM on February 13, 2014


I dunno, Sara. Once you've established We Are On A Date, the contextual meaning of "Want to go back to my place?" is unambiguous.

Yeah, but as nadawi says, if you haven't clearly established "We Are On A Date" then it's just digging potentially deeper pits of embarrassment--or worse.
posted by yoink at 6:26 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Right -- but you have to have already established that you're on a date, yeah? You can't just fly under the radar and hope that the other party has picked up on your intentions.
posted by KathrynT at 6:26 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


feckless - But that's because "back to my place" is social shorthand for "we should have sex". It's something that's pretty widely understood, at least in the US among mainstream single folks.

There is no agreed upon shorthand for "date" that is so ubiquitous.

You don't have to say "date", but by no means should it be ambiguous that what you're doing is going on a date.

You don't have to say "have sex", but by no means should it be ambiguous that what's going to happen when you get back to your place is sex.

If there is ambiguity, I think most people would agree that something is wrong.

I seriously don't understand the "but no you need a frisson of ambiguity" angle, here. I don't mean to be rude, but it sort of boggles the mind that anyone would actually be hoping to encourage this kind of ambiguity.
posted by Sara C. at 6:27 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm not actually saying that one should say this (at least, not without many "reading the room" provisos!). I'm saying that if you say "want to come back to my place" you should not assume that a succssful communication has occurred between you that is equivalent to "hey, want to have sex?"

I mean, yeah, you shouldn't say "want to come back to my place so we can have sex," but that's because it's weird to define the "why" so clearly in a personal interaction. You're also not saying "want to come on a date with me so we can further evaluate whether we should cohabit/marry/procreate over the course of approximately three years?"

Anyway, the "want to come over" thing is pretty awkwardly ambiguous in lots of contexts, too. See: the "I'll cook you dinner" third date jitters.
posted by rue72 at 6:28 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah I think I slightly misread what you wrote.

And yeah, ambiguity? No. Dates are filled with ambiguity anyway, since for many dates you don't really know how it's going to go. That's where the frisson comes from.

You can't have that "Are we going to kiss?" excitement if you don't even know you're on a date.

Anyway, the "want to come over" thing is pretty awkwardly ambiguous in lots of contexts, too. See: the "I'll cook you dinner" third date jitters.

What's ambiguous about that? You already know you're dating. I guess there's ambiguity around Is This A Serious Thing, but that's normal in the developing stages of a relationship.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:30 PM on February 13, 2014


Right -- but you have to have already established that you're on a date, yeah? You can't just fly under the radar and hope that the other party has picked up on your intentions.

oh my how i wish this was true. i have absolutely found myself at a friend's place when it suddenly dawns on me that this has been a date as he goes to kiss me. that's not a good look for anyone.
posted by nadawi at 6:32 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


What's ambiguous about that?

You haven't eaten my cooking, I see!
posted by yoink at 6:32 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


feckless fecal fear mongering - to some, "let me make you dinner" is a big flashing sign saying "wanna fuck?!?" and to others it's, "i just learned this great recipe and i can't afford a restaurant tonight."
posted by nadawi at 6:33 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


I am in the third-ish date phase with someone at the moment. Said someone recently invited me over for the purposes of "cooking me dinner". I thought it was delightful.

However it was by no means ambiguous as to what sorts of other activities might occur.
posted by Sara C. at 6:34 PM on February 13, 2014


It looks like if I end up single again, I am screwed... but not necessarily fucked.
posted by sm1tten at 6:34 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


oh my how i wish this was true. i have absolutely found myself at a friend's place when it suddenly dawns on me that this has been a date as he goes to kiss me. that's not a good look for anyone.

There's something particularly terrible about those moments in one's life when you realize you are living through something you would dismiss as ridiculously contrived in a sitcom or a movie.
posted by yoink at 6:34 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yeah, it's not going to matter how many times I say I'm not advocating for ambiguity on the whole, I just think the word date is awkward and out of fashion (and hey, looks like not for everyone), Sara C. is still going to read this as a fetish for being kept in the dark. It's cool. Reading what people are actually saying is overrated.
posted by namesarehard at 6:34 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


this has been a date

Oh man I kind of want to create an evening of sketch comedy with that title.
posted by Sara C. at 6:35 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


a fetish for being kept in the dark

But you keep saying there should be "ambiguity".

Why would anyone want there to be ambiguity?

Say date. Don't say date. I don't care.

But if you're asking me out, I want to know about it before you take off your pants.
posted by Sara C. at 6:36 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


A perfectly lovely evening, ruined. *yawns* night
posted by infini at 6:38 PM on February 13, 2014


funny story about the dinner thing - my husband was scared of me for the first couple of years of our ten year friendship (when there was zero attraction between us) because i was "too nice." i'm southern, from a huge family, and formerly mormon and he's from the northeast, atheist, and has a grand total of 7 relatives. he could not understand why i'd cook him dinner three nights a week or give him intoxicants - he figured i had to have an angle (maybe he was scared i was going to spring a crush on him?) and he couldn't figure it out. truth be told, i knew he was eating ramen 18 days a month and i just don't have it in me to eat well while those in my circle do not. i invited him to my place for food probably hundreds of times before we ever so much as held each others hands.
posted by nadawi at 6:39 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


oh my how i wish this was true. i have absolutely found myself at a friend's place when it suddenly dawns on me that this has been a date as he goes to kiss me. that's not a good look for anyone.

Try playing video games and smoking together and having that suddenly dawn on you because his hands are very, very suddenly going down your pants.

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwkward.

to some, "let me make you dinner" is a big flashing sign saying "wanna fuck?!?" and to others it's, "i just learned this great recipe and i can't afford a restaurant tonight."

Oh. I guess maybe it's different for (many) queer guys (most of the time): you've probably already fucked by that point, offering to cook dinner is usually more of an emotional intimacy step up. In my experience, anyway; I'm not going to offer to cook dinner for a random hookup or a really casual thing, and I think that's a fairly common attitude amongst queer dudes.

(Downside of cooking as a job: fucking nobody ever offers to cook you dinner anymore except other pros. Sigh. I've tried bullying my man into making me breakfast on Saturday morning but we both know I'll be at the stove poaching his eggs while he watches TV on his laptop.)

A perfectly lovely evening, ruined. *yawns* night

I have been on this date
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:40 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't know if you don't know what the word "ambiguous" means, or just have a weird kink you're assuming is universal, or what?

Wow, ok. uh. i regret ever engaging this at all at this point if it's gonna turn in to one of these kinds of things.

There is a HUGE difference between some kind of coercive "well i thought you meant *nudge nudge wink wink*" stuff when it comes to trying to like, essentially browbeat someone into giving you sex or leading them in to a situation where you "reasonably could have thought they were on the same page" if you're an asshole when it comes to bringing someone home, and having a casual first date.

I already accept that what i've discussed isn't universal, isn't for everyone(especially if you're socially inept/awkward! which uh, i kinda am), but i don't know how we got from not saying the word date and having am ambigious date-or-not situation to date rape.

like why the hell did the convo have to go there?
posted by emptythought at 6:40 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ugh, look, sorry, my annoyance is uncalled for. I think there IS ambiguity in dating, and it DOES need to be tolerated, but my original point was not about ambiguity, it was about awkward, mechanical phrasing. No where in there did I say it's not good to be clear about intentions - in my original post I said asking about 'hanging out' is bullshit and playing games is too. I just think we're giving already awkward people bad advice, but you know what? Looks like this happens all the time anyway, and maybe it's not as awkward as it sounds to me.
posted by namesarehard at 6:41 PM on February 13, 2014


i like dating and i'm really good at it hell yeah
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:41 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Downside of cooking as a job: fucking nobody ever offers to cook you dinner anymore except other pros.

Best. Downside. Ever.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:42 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


feckless fecal fear mongering - ha! well, me too. like you, i'm easy. i've more often found myself realizing my hookups suddenly wanted feelings (which is a whole other "where the fuck did that come from??" conversation). i don't think i've ever gotten to the third date without sex since i started having sex. but i hear it happens!
posted by nadawi at 6:46 PM on February 13, 2014


Trust me when I say it is WAAAAAY better to be told, "I'm sorry, I don't feel that way about you," than it is to watch it suddenly dawn on your date that she's on a date. A date she doesn't want to be on and wouldn't have agreed to go on had you asked her on one.

"than it is to watch it suddenly dawn on your date that she's on a date."

Erm, did you ask her before you went out? Seems you had a problem in communication before the evening began bro.

That's the problem right?

Is asking for a date an official declaration of romantic interest or does it mean "I would like to get to know you better"?
posted by vapidave at 6:46 PM on February 13, 2014


But seriously thought what is the ambiguity level we're looking for?

I think dating would be 100% better if nobody had to be ambiguous and everyone could just say, "I really like you and want to take you out sometime."

Most of my favorite situations in any dating type atmosphere have been when the ambiguity was swept away and we could actually acknowledge to each other that we found each other attractive and were looking forward to future sexual encounters.

It's a little bit into consent territory, but mostly it's just that not knowing the other person's intentions is incredibly nerve wracking. I hate wondering whether I'm about to get rejected. I love it when I know somebody likes me.

Subtlety is nice, though. Subtlety is different from ambiguity, though.
posted by Sara C. at 6:46 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Not exactly. I have non-standard-for-culinary hours right now, but everyone else in the industry who I know is working most nights through the week and have zero interest (as I did when working full time) in cooking on off days. My dude has a friend-couple one of whom is trained as a chef, we've been over there for dinner a couple times and it's been absolutely great.

Also there tends to end up (not always but often) a dick-measuring contest when pros cook for each other. I imagine that fades with age and how high you rise in the industry.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:46 PM on February 13, 2014


"Most of my favorite situations in any dating type atmosphere have been when the ambiguity was swept away and we could actually acknowledge to each other that we found each other attractive and were looking forward to future sexual encounters."

Um, sexual attraction is nonverbal for some people. People can agree without using words.
posted by vapidave at 6:51 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


about the cooking - i'm not a pro, but i do nearly all the cooking, 3 meals a day, in my home. it's AMAZING when my husband (who isn't much of a cook) makes me food. melts me every single time. i love to do the majority of cooking, but his, as he calls it, "shitty eggs" are just filled with love.
posted by nadawi at 6:51 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


did you ask her before you went out

The time this happened to me (I was the woman, it was a hetero situation), I was asked if I "wanted to get a drink sometime".

I rolled up on my bike, a little bit sweaty, dressed in a ratty t-shirt and shorts, assuming we were doing a platonic happy hour type thing. Like you often do with coworkers whose company you enjoy. Because it's the 21st goddamn century and men and women can be friends.

He was dressed impeccably and had made a reservation for dinner.

I ordered an app, made sure to talk a lot about my girlfriend, and hightailed it out of there. That pretty much ended our friendship. The whole thing could have been averted if he'd just made his intentions known. I'd have clarified up front, and after a few weeks of awkwardness everything would have been fine.

Leaving it ambiguous was never going to lead to anything beyond platonic drinks.
posted by Sara C. at 6:51 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


sexual attraction is nonverbal for some people. People can agree without using words.

Of course. The acknowledgement doesn't have to be verbal.
posted by Sara C. at 6:54 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


This arms race was not started by the people asking out saying "wanna go hang out and do $ACTIVITY?", it was started by the people being asked out only doing "casual hang outs" and rejecting anything that's a capitol D date, which slowly led to no one going on dates that they actually called that until the 4th date or whatever.

According to whom? What's the evidence that this was started by people rejecting "anything that's a capitol D date"? If we're going based purely on assertion, I assert that it was started by the people who were too timorous to actually ask the other people out, so instead they tried to stealth their way into a date without having the gumption to let the other person know their intentions were more than platonic. More charitably, perhaps they lacked enough self-awareness to recognize that the other person wasn't reading their mind and wasn't on the same page. Either way, being clear about it up front would have avoided the problem.
posted by Lexica at 6:56 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]



Just have this engraved on a nice card:


The honour of your presence is requested
for a romantic outing at eight o'clock in the evening
Friday, February Fourteenth
Year of our Lord Two thousand fourteen



Pfft. Doesn't even rhyme.

Yes, Virginia, people sometimes say things differently that you would. That doesn't mean they're big dumb dummies and everybody hates them and thinks they smell like butts. Some people use catsup instead of ketchup, and Miracle Whip instead of mayonnaise. Some people aren't suave and charming and great at nonverbal communication, which is why they're on AskMe asking for help in the first place. If I posted to AskMe and said, "I'm not good at subtly letting the people I'm attracted to know that I'm interested," it wouldn't be much help to answer, "The first thing you need to do is be more subtle."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:02 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


it was started by the people being asked out only doing "casual hang outs" and rejecting anything that's a capitol D date

But why would you do this unless it was a soft rejection, because you were interested in casually hanging out, but not interested in anything romantic?

I've never met anyone who was actually into me who just wanted to, like, not date me.
posted by Sara C. at 7:02 PM on February 13, 2014


What's the evidence that this was started by people rejecting "anything that's a capitol D date"? I assert that it was started by the people who were too timorous to actually ask the other people out, so instead they tried to stealth their way into a date without having the gumption to let the other person know their intentions were more than platonic.

Am I the only one who usually ended up thinking it was a date when it wasn't? :'-(
posted by Room 641-A at 7:04 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've never met anyone who was actually into me who just wanted to, like, not date me.

You might have, but it might have been someone who had good reasons not to date you despite the attraction, and who has discipline.

For instance, I've been attracted to specific women who smoke, or drink way too much for my taste, or have logistical issues (living far away, having a pet I'm allergic to, whatever) so I passed on going for a relationship and just went for friendship. I've had many good friendships out of those situations, and no bad ones.
posted by davejay at 7:05 PM on February 13, 2014


That has also happened to me, but is slightly less cringey.

The worst was the time I asked a guy out to a midnight movie. I kind of thought that broadcast "I'm really into you and basically we're going to have sex". Most awkward date ending ever.
posted by Sara C. at 7:06 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


but then I'm not a one-night-stand or short-term-relationship kind of guy, so YMMV
posted by davejay at 7:07 PM on February 13, 2014


but his, as he calls it, "shitty eggs" are just filled with love

Yes! This! Everyone I've dated since entering the industry has been scared of cooking for me, and I'm like "First, I don't judge food coming from a pro the same as food from anyone else--and I judge a pro differently if I'm eating at their kitchen table than in their restaurant. Also you could make me a peanut butter sandwich and I'd love the fuck out of it because you made it."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:10 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I.... this is archaic? How does OKC continue to exist, then?

Took me a minute to realize you weren't referring to Oklahoma City.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:24 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Would you like to go on a date with me?"

I'm sorry, but that won't be possible.
posted by threeants at 7:25 PM on February 13, 2014 [15 favorites]


We might be overthinking a plate of dates.

This reminds me of a time I was hanging out with a friend whom I had decided not to date for practical reasons, despite initial attraction. Apropos of nothing, she asked me "do you want a date?" and I smiled and said "it depends on what kind of date." She laughed, and pulled out a small plate of dates, and I said "oh, then yes, I want one." It was only later that I realized I'd effectively said I didn't want a date date. Which, to be fair, I didn't -- not on a logical level, even though I still sort of did on an emotional one -- so it was nice to find out my subconscious was looking out for me.
posted by davejay at 7:26 PM on February 13, 2014


New guidelines recommend saying "can I take you out on a wet date" for clarity. Also, waggle the eyebrows.

And I read this in the voice of Lrrr from Omicron Persei 8, followed by "And bring me the human's lower horn!"
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:28 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


The Underpants Monster: "Pfft. Doesn't even rhyme.

Yes, Virginia, people sometimes say things differently that you would. That doesn't mean they're big dumb dummies and everybody hates them and thinks they smell like butts. Some people use catsup instead of ketchup, and Miracle Whip instead of mayonnaise. Some people aren't suave and charming and great at nonverbal communication, which is why they're on AskMe asking for help in the first place. If I posted to AskMe and said, "I'm not good at subtly letting the people I'm attracted to know that I'm interested," it wouldn't be much help to answer, "The first thing you need to do is be more subtle."
"

I don't have a dog in this race. I was riffing on the incredible angst that people have about getting a date. It seems to me that it's worse now than it was; that there's something about the involvement of the internet in the process, of hypercritically comparing your own experiences with millions of others, that magnifies problems in a process that was already inherently fraught. Maybe it just seems that way to me as an outsider looking in but, as I wrote above, I am glad that the internet wasn't a thing when I was looking for love.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:38 PM on February 13, 2014



"Would you like to go on a date with me?"


I prefer not.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:38 PM on February 13, 2014


I vote for being direct
posted by double block and bleed at 7:39 PM on February 13, 2014



hamburger. also, non-hamburgerishly, you sound like a great dad. Just like introduce him to tastier restaurants maybe :P

Like, I did. And like, he refuses to listen to good sense.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:40 PM on February 13, 2014


"It's like the difference between 'would you like to come have sex with me now?' and 'would you like to come back to my place?'"

Despite my previous comment about not doing the actual "date" thing, I'm very much on the side of the explicit folk in this discussion. (But, to reiterate, I am not and do not intend to say that what works for me, or what I've experienced, is "normal" for everyone else and those who are different are crazy, crazy icky weird people.)

And being explicit has worked pretty well for me.

The summer of 1982, right after I graduated from high school, a close friend was visited by his sixteen-year-old cousin from Alaska. Her name was Chrissie, and she was gorgeous. Everywhere she went that week, all the guys were hitting on her.

I met her one night at another friend's party and there was a good vibe between us. Nothing came of it that night, partly because the thicket of horny guys surrounding her was annoying and there were other things to do. I, too, had a cousin visiting, a good-looking blond jock from California (Redwood City) who usually visited me every summer and, like Chrissie had, tended to make an impression on small-town kids who were largely sick of each other, having grown up together. Anyway, I mentioned to him that Chrissie seemed to like me and he was quite belligerent in scoffing at that idea, mostly because she displayed no interest in him. The next morning, first thing, I called her up at her grandparents' house and asked if she'd like to watch the 4th of July fireworks with me the following evening. She said "yes", which I gleefully reported to my cousin. And so it came to pass that the three of us watched the fireworks, I then ditched my cousin with a friend, and Chrissie and I drove to a nearby abandoned tree nursery and parked there.

We talked for a while. I said that I thought she was very attractive and noticed that she'd been getting much attention. She said that actually it was annoying her, the way guys were all maneuvering and strutting and such. I said, well, I'll tell you straight out that I was really hoping to have sex with you. She laughed, smiled at me, and said, okay, that sounds fun! And we did. In the back of the station wagon I'd been given by my parents for graduation.

Then while we were doing our thing, a police car pulled up behind us with its flashers on. To this day, I'm still amazed at how quickly Chrissie found and dressed in her underwear. It was like ten seconds, man. Whoosh. The cop strolled up to the right-rear window, knocked on it, and I rolled the it down — I was still naked, having missed my chance gawking at Chrissie's speed-dress.

He asked our ages (17 and 16), asked her if she was consenting ("yes"), stood there thinking for a minute, and then nodded his head and walked back to his car, got in, and drove away.

We sat there for a moment.

She began to search for the rest of her clothing but I said, hey, he seemed okay with it and he's obviously not coming back, so there's no reason for us to stop. So we went back to doing our thing.

That was a fun night.

In 1998 I met a woman after answering her personals ad in the Austin Chronicle at a coffee-shop. We talked until the shop closed, then went to Kerbey Lane and talked for four more hours. Then we sat in my car and talked for another hour. At that point I just thought, what the hell, and so told her that I thought it would be a great idea if we checked into a really nice hotel and had crazy sex for the rest of the night and then get room service breakfast. She was initially taken aback, but then decided that it actually sounded pretty great. That was also a fun night. We were together for four years.

Being straightforward is not restricted to the socially awkward and uncertain. It can also just be honest and, well, confident. And there's no miscommunication, there's the implicit respect of expecting someone to know their own mind, and you're pretty much the opposite of junior high kids stammering at each other and wondering what the other person is thinking.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:40 PM on February 13, 2014 [13 favorites]


Am I the only one who usually ended up thinking it was a date when it wasn't? :'-(

If it makes you feel any better, a few years ago I once showed cringeworthily obvious enthusiasm after an appealing coworker asked me what I was doing Friday...only to find out she wanted to know if I could cover her shift.
posted by threeants at 7:42 PM on February 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


The summer of 1982, right after I graduated from high school, a close friend was visited by his sixteen-year-old cousin from Alaska. Her name was Chrissie, and she was gorgeous. Everywhere she went that week, all the guys were hitting on her.

I met her one night at another friend's party and there was a good vibe between us. Nothing came of it that night, partly because the thicket of horny guys surrounding her was annoying and there were other things to do. I, too, had a cousin visiting, a good-looking blond jock from California (Redwood City) who usually visited me every summer and, like Chrissie had, tended to make an impression on small-town kids who were largely sick of each other, having grown up together. Anyway, I mentioned to him that Chrissie seemed to like me and he was quite belligerent in scoffing at that idea, mostly because she displayed no interest in him. The next morning, first thing, I called her up at her grandparents' house and asked if she'd like to watch the 4th of July fireworks with me the following evening. She said "yes", which I gleefully reported to my cousin. And so it came to pass that the three of us watched the fireworks, I then ditched my cousin with a friend, and Chrissie and I drove to a nearby abandoned tree nursery and parked there.

We talked for a while. I said that I thought she was very attractive and noticed that she'd been getting much attention. She said that actually it was annoying her, the way guys were all maneuvering and strutting and such. I said, well, I'll tell you straight out that I was really hoping to have sex with you. She laughed, smiled at me, and said, okay, that sounds fun! And we did. In the back of the station wagon I'd been given by my parents for graduation.

Then while we were doing our thing, a police car pulled up behind us with its flashers on. To this day, I'm still amazed at how quickly Chrissie found and dressed in her underwear. It was like ten seconds, man. Whoosh. The cop strolled up to the right-rear window, knocked on it, and I rolled the it down — I was still naked, having missed my chance gawking at Chrissie's speed-dress.

He asked our ages (17 and 16), asked her if she was consenting ("yes"), stood there thinking for a minute, and then nodded his head and walked back to his car, got in, and drove away.

We sat there for a moment.

She began to search for the rest of her clothing but I said, hey, he seemed okay with it and he's obviously not coming back, so there's no reason for us to stop. So we went back to doing our thing.

That was a fun night.


wat
posted by threeants at 7:43 PM on February 13, 2014


"I've never met anyone who was actually into me who just wanted to, like, not date me".

Can I have suffered from that and thought about that - I would have liked to touch you without care for who you are when I was an adolescent - and also honestly apologize for that? Biology can be overwhelming. I don't offer this as an excuse.

Also, stick around. It's geting better. Too slowly but inevitably.
posted by vapidave at 7:46 PM on February 13, 2014


If it makes you feel any better, a few years ago I once showed cringeworthily obvious enthusiasm after an appealing coworker asked me what I was doing Friday...only to find out she wanted to know if I could cover her shift.

OH GOD WHY DO YOU MAKE ME REMEMBER THESE THINGS

also why am I not in bed? night
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:46 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

"We might be overthinking a plate of dates."
What, no Pratchett quote?

"How about a date?"
"How old do you think I am?"
"All right, then. How about a prune?"
posted by Pinback at 7:59 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


Clearly the solution to this problem is the good old "I have a crush on you" route.

Cute as heck, sufficiently direct, doesn't require a response. Bam.
posted by likeatoaster at 8:15 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Or, even better, standing in his/her/their front yard, holding a boom box, playing Crush by Sleigh Bells, Dobbler-style.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:53 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I am not good at reading subtle signals. I have managed to go on a date with someone, while being oblivious to that fact, even though I was actually interested in her and only realized "Shit! That was a date!" six months later. With two different women. One of them twice.

So this summer, I was hanging out with a woman who I had met through a shared interest, and we had been meeting up maybe weekly for various platonic activities. And after a couple of months of this, we were at this cool pizza place, and I looked her in the eye, explained I wasn't the greatest at social cues, and then popped the question... "So, (brief pause while waggling finger to point at her and I a few times) this is a date, right? Because I'm sort of hoping that this is a date." She agreed that this was a date, and we held hands and kissed while waiting for the train and now I'm in a great relationship and asking embarrassing sex questions through a sock puppet account.

And I know that the general advice on AskMe pushed me to use that awkward wording (I remember steeling myself to ask by reading old questions) and I am so happy I asked that awkward question and I just want to thank you all, or at least the ones who convinced me that a good date can survive three whole seconds of you not sounding cool.
posted by Ed The Sock at 9:14 PM on February 13, 2014 [24 favorites]


Wait so is "I want to cook you dinner" like a relationship thing or an excuse to transition into the "watch movies and screw" phase of things, or what?

Asking for a friend.
posted by Sara C. at 9:54 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


For me it's more of a relationshippy thing, since usually by that point the "watch movies and screw" phase has already been reached. YMMV.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:02 PM on February 13, 2014


In my experience, this formalised 'dating' is a distinctly American phenomenon, albeit one that is becoming more prevalent in the world where Yank TV and cinema is popular. Before I moved to the US I had never in my life experienced this strict dichotomy between things that are dates and things that are not dates.

Even now, having participated in the American dating scene for some time, it's not something that I feel I understand very well. What is the difference between 'hanging out' and a 'date'? Where does the expectation come from that unless it is formally classified as 'date' then it doesn't count towards relationship building?

In my life prior to America it would have been very gauche to ask someone out on a date. It would have been seen as emulating Yank popular culture, and if not that at the very least overwhelmingly formal. Like dressing up in a suit to go to the supermarket, doffing your fancy hat at passers by kind of excess. You'd ask someone out, or to hang out or whatever and if something happened, it happened and if something didn't then, well, it didn't.
posted by Prahan at 10:12 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Wait so is "I want to cook you dinner" like a relationship thing or an excuse to transition into the "watch movies and screw" phase of things, or what?

In my experience, being invited over for dinner marks the change from hanging out to HANGING OUT in every sense of the phrase. There's serious symbolic intimacy in inviting someone into your personal space and doing nice things for them, for all the carnal appetites.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:12 PM on February 13, 2014


In my experience, being invited over for dinner marks the change from hanging out to HANGING OUT in every sense of the phrase. There's serious symbolic intimacy in inviting someone into your personal space and doing nice things for them, for all the carnal appetites.

And here I thought I was just sharing food with new friends. Now I wonder what they were thinking... Eek. ((But then, I've generally always taken "let's go back to your/my place" as "Let's go somewhere we can keep talking without having to worry about businesses closing". These are some pretty oblique references and innuendo going around, here.))
posted by CrystalDave at 10:17 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


In whose end-o?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:22 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Once a woman invited me back to her place after a date, and after some hanging out and chatting, finally just said "why haven't you made a pass at me yet?" out of frustration, which looking back is quite an old-timey way of saying "hey asshole, why do you think we're here and why are our clothes still on?" but at the time I just found it awkward and pushy.

On the other hand, a sudden "I'm so lubricated right now" from a woman I was chatting with (and for whom english was a second language, although I didn't know it at the time), that was awesome comedy gold (I laughed so hard I cried, but she eventually landed me, so there's that.)

All this reflection makes me realize I hang out with people who use language as oddly as I do. Huzzah!
posted by davejay at 10:39 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I got my current girlfriend in part because she was out on a kinda-but-not-really "hang out" with a guy who wanted to date her, but she didn't want to date him. I hung out with her that night, and asked her on a date for the next day. It went well, and we've been together ever since.

My coworkers, who are about a decade younger than me on average, still say "date" some times, though other times they hang out, hook up, whatever. But just like getting laid, it's often easiest and best if you can ask for what you want with a smile.
posted by klangklangston at 10:53 PM on February 13, 2014


Wait so is "I want to cook you dinner" like a relationship thing or an excuse to transition into the "watch movies and screw" phase of things, or what?

IME, it's usually an "I have food in the fridge I need to use before it goes bad & soundguy99 likes home-cooked meals" kinda thing.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:40 PM on February 13, 2014


The word "date" has the benefit of being unambiguous. More common use of this word would pre-empt so many AskMe's!!!
posted by KokuRyu at 12:56 AM on February 14, 2014


If possible, I would much rather demonstrate my intent than explain it. Saying "Let's go on a date" is a little too close to "I find you potentially sexually compatible and I am hoping to take you out to test my hypothesis" for my liking.
posted by pracowity at 1:33 AM on February 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


"If possible, I would much rather demonstrate my intent than explain it."

That's why I just inflate my bright orange throat while bobbing up and down and singing and fighting other potential candidates in mid-air until I attract the notice of that special someone.

If you know what I mean.
posted by kyrademon at 4:59 AM on February 14, 2014 [32 favorites]


The one time I remember ever unambiguously using the word "date" was once when I asked a lady from my workplace to brunch. I thought I'd seemed sufficiently flustered when I asked her that there could be no confusion about my intentions, but apparently that was not the case!

Partway through brunch, she segued into this awkward observation about how ha ha, living in NYC is so weird, like sometimes you'll be hanging out with someone, and you have no idea if it's, like, a DATE, or what, ha ha

and I was like, ha ha, yeah.

and there was a small pause

and then I looked her in the eye and was like, "I consider this to be a date. I am dating you RIGHT NOW." and she was like, "Oh!" and seemed happy to be assured.

I don't believe I used the word "date" to being my current relationship, but I think my intentions were pretty obvious, as I sent her a pretty long email where I went on for paragraphs about Frankenstein's neckbolts.

(in fairness, it's only because I can't stop thinking about neckbolts)
posted by Greg Nog at 5:00 AM on February 14, 2014 [18 favorites]


UPDATE my SO just read the above comment and pointed out that it was actually not one but multiple emails about neckbolts
posted by Greg Nog at 5:06 AM on February 14, 2014 [23 favorites]


I just sent an invitation through the mails:
"Your presence requested this evening,
For dating a fellow in a white tie and tails."
Nothing now could take the wind out of my sails.
Because I've invited a lady to date me,
In top hat and white tie and tails.


I'm puttin' on my top hat,
Tyin' up my white tie,
Makin’ sure it’s straight.
I'm dudin' up my shirt front,
Puttin' in the shirt studs,
Askin’ for a date,
I'm steppin' out, my dear,
To make it crystal-clear
This is a tête-a-tête;
And I hope
You won’t think I’m a dope,
If I use the word, “date,”
For I'll be there,
Puttin' down my top hat,
Mussin' up my white tie,
‘Cause I think you’re great!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:24 AM on February 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


As a non-US person living in the US, this thread is simultaneously amusing/informative/ambiguous/unambiguous/baffling/enlightening and also oh-my-god-so-that's-what-was-going-on ...
posted by carter at 5:36 AM on February 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


"I consider this to be a date. I am dating you RIGHT NOW."

OH, but see this is confusing for me, still, as someone who has lived in the US for 12 years. If I am on a first date with someone, is that *dating* them? I thought that you were dating someone when you were a few dates in, like, in a pre-relationshippy, not had a talk about it but more than just hanging out kind of stage?

Am I totally wrong?

So glad to be married. And my first date with my husband, I didn't know it was a date. I'd only been in the US for a month or so; it was all so confusing.
posted by gaspode at 6:07 AM on February 14, 2014


gaspode - in that construction i think it means "i am in the act of being on a date with you" - you're right that "dating" usually means something on the line of pre-relationship to exclusivity, depending on who is using it. even more confusingly, in middle school/high school kids often say they're "going out" with so&so, which means they're in an exclusive relationship, but they often don't "go" anywhere besides geometry.
posted by nadawi at 6:19 AM on February 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


but I think my intentions were pretty obvious, as I sent her a pretty long email where I went on for paragraphs about Frankenstein's neckbolts.

Clearly ambiguous indeed!

sits back happy that long email with links on app development won't be misunderstood
posted by infini at 6:55 AM on February 14, 2014


If I am on a first date with someone, is that *dating* them?

No. GregNog is making a joke.... I think?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:34 AM on February 14, 2014


Like nadawi, I'm fairly sure Greg Nog means the second sentence in "I consider this to be a date. I am dating you RIGHT NOW" as a repetition of the first. It doesn't mean "we are in a dating relationship RIGHT NOW" or something. It just means "We're on a date."

This reads to me as a really simple use of the progressive form. Are people having a rough morning or something
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:20 AM on February 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Gee I wonder why people are tetchy in a thread about dating on February 14th Gee I dont know why Gee wh--
*is stomped by a 10000lb Cathy*
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:30 AM on February 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


oh

uh


right.


see above I guess

wow, 10000 pounds is a lot
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:33 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


When I was a girl, guy 'friends' would say things like, 'oh, you like X band? I have an extra ticket if you want to go,' or 'let's get a drink after work', etc. So we go, and somewhere in the smack middle of it, I would feel a hand on my back, or I would be blindsided with a kiss, and it was always very, very disturbing and uncomfortable. I felt tricked but guilty, because I said yes to the ticket or drink. Also, being a girl with still undeveloped boundaries, and being a people pleaser, it sucked even more because I felt I all sorts of obligations to be nice and cross my boundaries. Now, as a woman, I would punch them in the face.

If you can't say the word 'date', use another word. Just make sure it's damn clear please.

(And my man used the word 'date' to ask me out and it was awesome! Straight and sexy.)
posted by Vaike at 8:35 AM on February 14, 2014 [11 favorites]


and being a people pleaser, it sucked even more because I felt I all sorts of obligations to be nice and cross my boundaries.

Yeah, that's exactly the quasi "coercive" dynamic I was trying to describe earlier in the thread.
posted by yoink at 8:43 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


So the dating subsite of Metafilter is going to be called "I AM DATING YOU RIGHT NOW" correct
posted by naju at 8:53 AM on February 14, 2014 [11 favorites]


and then I looked her in the eye and was like, "I consider this to be a date. I am dating you RIGHT NOW."

the date is coming from inside the house
posted by threeants at 9:06 AM on February 14, 2014 [12 favorites]


guy 'friends' would say things like, 'oh, you like X band? I have an extra ticket if you want to go,'

oh god. and now i've just remembered the guy who gave me an "extra ticket" to go see the cure. it was all so awkward i'm pretty sure i've blocked most of it out.
posted by nadawi at 9:08 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Been in exactly that extra ticket place.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:17 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


"I find you potentially sexually compatible and I am hoping to take you out to test my hypothesis"

I don't date anymore because it's too bewildering, but oh my god if someone used that line on me I'd be in love.
posted by winna at 9:21 AM on February 14, 2014 [8 favorites]


I don't date anymore because it's too bewildering, but oh my god if someone used that line on me I'd be in love.

I once got a "you excite me, and I want to get to know you better" followed by a dinner invite. It was effective.
posted by phunniemee at 9:35 AM on February 14, 2014


I recently had a perfect excuse to just say I LIKE YOU AND TOTALLY WANT TO DO THE SEX and it was great.

I mean I didn't use those exact words or anything

probably
posted by Sara C. at 9:47 AM on February 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


Wait a second I think this bears coming back to.

Olive Garden? Really?
posted by The Whelk at 10:12 AM on February 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm 34 and I don't think I've ever asked someone out on a "date" unironically. It sounds like you want to take them to dinner in 1950.

Time travel would be a pretty good date, but I don't think I'd pick 1950.
posted by NoraReed at 10:20 AM on February 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


My favorite horrible perfect for V day story is the time a friend of mine accepted an invitation to "get a bite" with a classmate and wound up at one of the poshest restaurants in town on a date complete with wine and candlelight. I don't remember if she managed to tell her date about her steady girlfriend before the entree arrived or not but I do remember that she took a taxi home (at her own insistence) before the dessert. Many years later I still encounter that guy very occasionally and I always feel a quick pang of sympathetic humiliation whenever I do.

But mostly I wanted to remark on how unpleasant the word "moist" is.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:22 AM on February 14, 2014


When I was a teenager in a small town, I liked to eat at Olive Garden, too.

I especially liked to go there with friends, on our own, unaccompanied by adults.

I read that particular comment as being about teenagers liking to go on dates to Olive Garden (totally consistent with my experience of being a teenager), not about gay men liking to go on dates to Olive Garden (not consistent with my understanding of gay male culture, not that it's a monolith of course).
posted by Sara C. at 10:22 AM on February 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


Olive Garden? Really?

okay I hate on Olive Garden a lot too BUT if I were a teenage boy going out to dinner with another teenage boy I suspect the endless breadsticks into their endless gullets would be a very alluring siren call

then again we're doing Chinese food and the Lego movie so clearly I am an expert at romance and sophistication
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:24 AM on February 14, 2014 [8 favorites]


Like, two weeks ago, I learned that when a total hottie approaches you to say "can I give you my email address so you can inform me of future shows ;)" that doesn't mean he wants you to walk him over to your theatre company's subscription list and have him write his name down.

Doubly so if he goes "can I give this back to you after?"

(THE ANSWER ISN'T "No, you can leave it on the table" YOU TWIT)
posted by Conspire at 10:24 AM on February 14, 2014 [9 favorites]


I see, just going on a "hiking trip" and having lots of awkward, bug-bite filled trysts in the woods isn't good enough for kids these days! Bah!
posted by The Whelk at 10:26 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


We all know I'm old, but dammit, I liked the old days when if a dude asked you out, that meant it was a date, and he was interested and etc. Now the young people, they're all confused. They have all sorts of categories from hanging out to marriage, and all sorts of dizzying options in between.

Then there's the dreaded, "friend-zone." (Can this be replaced with a picture of a cat in all future questions?) Some of these poor souls are finding that while they're pining away for someone, all this 'hanging-out' is leading to nothing but hanging out.

So yes, as archaic as it is, I advocate using the word date, when you mean, "I want to take you out, with romance implied, I want to get to know you better, eat something, drink something and perhaps, if things go well, somewhere down the line, have sex with you."

Because, FWB is just too sad to contemplate. It's like..."sexyfuntimes....PSYCHE!"

Now get off my lawn.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:39 AM on February 14, 2014


One time I asked someone out by kissing them in an airport and then running away before they could say anything.

I don't actually recommend this tactic.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:43 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Conspire, that is what always happens to me, except sometimes it's years later.

Not a romantic story but an illustration of my cluelessness follows!

Once in undergrad I was stomping through the gloaming back to my car after art class. I had my hair in a ponytail, oil paint on my nose and also on my tattered tshirt and yoga pants. I was also lugging my portfolio. I noticed a young woman bolting through the lot to her car and wondered why absently.

This became clear when a carful of young men stopped in front of me and said, 'Hey, where's the party?'

I was nonplussed, since I had no acquaintance with the young men in question. 'I don't know,' I said frankly, 'I'm not aware of any.'

The young man persisted however in seeking knowledge of this mythical party from me. 'Come on,' he said jovially, 'You know where there's a party.'

I was now annoyed at his persistence and lack of sense. 'It's Tuesday. No one holds parties on Tuesday.' Having defeated him with my withering logic, I stalked grandly to my car and drove away in the smug consciousness of having imparted universal knowledge to a misguided young man who might now live a better life thanks to my generous sharing of truth.

My mood of triumph lasted until I got home and my roommates told me that my carful of interlocutors were using a well-worn approach for a hooker.
posted by winna at 10:44 AM on February 14, 2014 [9 favorites]


The making dinner for someone is not always a date in my experience. I like to cook. I particularly like to cook for people. I have invited many people over to my place for dinner because I think it's one of the more pleasant, and least expensive, ways to hang out and get to know people.

If all the people I have invited over to dinner think I'm asking them out on a date, then a number of people at various mefi meetups over the years must think I'm some sort of swinger.
posted by bswinburn at 10:50 AM on February 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


Also tiki drinks. People invited over for tiki drinks merely have to worry about rum, not wandering hands.
posted by bswinburn at 10:52 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


that is what always happens to me, except sometimes it's years later.

I once went a full decade before thinking back to a conversation and realizing that I'd been completely oblivious to someone's attempt to make a pass at me.
posted by Area Man at 10:56 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


"I recently had a perfect excuse to just say I LIKE YOU AND TOTALLY WANT TO DO THE SEX and it was great. "

I once had a friend who was dating my roommate, and they'd had four dates and kissed a little, but he was still clueless, and I told her that the magic words were, "You. Me. Sex. Now."

It worked.
posted by klangklangston at 10:57 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, high five to winna for correct use of "nonplussed."
posted by klangklangston at 10:58 AM on February 14, 2014


It's okay, really! I'm okay with being alone for Valentine's Day.

*(Because I get to buy boxes of chocolate tomorrow for 50% off at the grocery store and eat them ALL BY MYSELF.)
posted by Conspire at 11:01 AM on February 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


I liked the old days when if a dude asked you out, that meant it was a date

Here's the problem with that.

What if you're female and want to ask a guy out?

What if you're not heterosexual?

What if you've always had platonic friends of both genders, and doing an activity like having coffee, drinks, or a meal doesn't imply romance?

The problem isn't really all the potential relationship statuses and the general "death of dating"* in American culture.

The problem is a non-patriarchal and non-heteronormative model of initiating romantic relationships.

Frankly, for as confusing as things are nowadays, I would much rather live in a world where I can ask a dude out or just be friends, or be out as bi and have the big problem be "wait so is this a date" rather than hate crimes.

*Seriously if you Europeans think it's formal now, in the US, you will die when you hear what it used to be like ~50 years ago.
posted by Sara C. at 11:04 AM on February 14, 2014 [9 favorites]


I once went a full decade before thinking back to a conversation and realizing that I'd been completely oblivious to someone's attempt to make a pass at me.

Oh man, there were two whole MeTa threads of these stories, and I love cringe-reading them now and again, even though I had, and have, nothing to contribute to them. Does anyone have links to these?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:12 AM on February 14, 2014


I'm Generation X. When I was in high school, college, a young adult, the word "date" was the most ridiculous thing imaginable. I mean, it was like a laugh line.

It came back at some point -first cringingly, then by the time I was in my 30s, it was the normal language in my peer set and in the culture.
posted by Miko at 11:29 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


namesarehard: "Anyway, not a huge deal, but it always baffles me that the primary advice to awkward young men is to ask so awkwardly."

Asking a bunch of internet nerds for advice on dating is, in itself, rather baffling.
posted by Grither at 11:30 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Olive Garden has decent mussels.

I thought about this some more last night and realized -- I've only once had a "is this a date/romance toned get together" kind of thing, and I was rather ambivalent about it either way (and it wasn't a date).
posted by sm1tten at 11:31 AM on February 14, 2014


I had a very nice and especially clueless male friend do the "let's hang out!" quasi-date thing with me in high school and I didn't realize it until the very last moment when he was clearly trying to decide if he was supposed to kiss me and boy did I bail out of that car as fast as possible. Nice fella, really, but it made the friendship awfully weird.

*(Because I get to buy boxes of chocolate tomorrow for 50% off at the grocery store and eat them ALL BY MYSELF.)

That is worth a cheer! I am both celebrating my first non-single Valentine's Day in a decade and I *also* get half-off chocolate tomorrow all to myself, because we are still in different parts of the country. It's not exactly the best of both worlds. but it's damned close.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:35 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


> "then again we're doing Chinese food and the Lego movie so clearly I am an expert at romance and sophistication"

Yeah, I mean, come on.

We're doing *Indian* food and the Lego Movie over here.

(If we can get tickets, that is. It just opened here. So it might be Indian food and attempting to see the Lego Movie. Well, if we can get into the restaurant without reservations.)

(I feel so suave now.)
posted by kyrademon at 11:36 AM on February 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


i'm pretty sure we're doing take out burgers (they mix sausage and onion into the patty!) and switching between star trek: next gen and deep space nine. ah, marriage. and then tomorrow 50% off candy!
posted by nadawi at 11:40 AM on February 14, 2014


inb4 circlejerk about the phrase moist being awful

Wet circlejerk or dry circlejerk?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:43 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


There's this sort of interesting thing that happens when you get older, where you assume that future generations will keep pushing the envelope further in the direction that your generation did — and get sort of startled and incredulous when they don't.

I remember as a teenager in the mid 90s boggling over the idea that in twenty years the kids would (obviously, duh) be listening to punk and industrial music that was even louder, heavier, denser, and more gratingly feedbacky and Steve Albinular (or grindingly seasick and Trent Reznoric) than ours. Like, I took it for granted that that was what was going to happen, and the only question in my mind was how the hell they were going to pull it off and make that shit listenable.

Wouldn't have occurred to me that the path forward was gonna be away from punk and industrial entirely, and into hip hop on the one hand and that-thing-we-ended-up-calling-emo on the other.

So I mean, I think I was in high school at about the peak of the "nobody calls it a date" thing. And I totally assumed that it wasn't the peak at all, that the pendulum would keep swinging that way forever. It's actually a huge relief to be wrong about that one, and to find that a lot of my younger friends insist on well-defined boundaries and clear communication in a way that my generation was basically ashamed to for fear of sounding uptight and uncool.
posted by this is a thing at 11:45 AM on February 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm Generation X. When I was in high school, college, a young adult, the word "date" was the most ridiculous thing imaginable. I mean, it was like a laugh line.

Yeah, I'm a boomer. We didn't date -- we had free love instead. The word was certainly arcane by the early 70's.

Then at some point, the practice became acceptable again, and the older you got, the less you cared about looking uncool and the more you wanted to clarify any ambiguity.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:47 AM on February 14, 2014


It's okay, really! I'm okay with being alone for Valentine's Day.

*(Because I get to buy boxes of chocolate tomorrow for 50% off at the grocery store and eat them ALL BY MYSELF.)


Cheap Chocolate for Spinsters Day™ is the BEST.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:56 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am dating you RIGHT NOW."

You're soaking in it!
posted by Room 641-A at 11:58 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


[nsfw] soaking is all together something different.
posted by nadawi at 12:02 PM on February 14, 2014


Writing a comment here is a REAL DATE AND I AM DATING YOU ALL RIGHT NOW.

sorry, i just feel allcaps inside Rick
posted by infini at 12:05 PM on February 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


"I remember as a teenager in the mid 90s boggling over the idea that in twenty years the kids would (obviously, duh) be listening to punk and industrial music that was even louder, heavier, denser, and more gratingly feedbacky and Steve Albinular (or grindingly seasick and Trent Reznoric) than ours. Like, I took it for granted that that was what was going to happen, and the only question in my mind was how the hell they were going to pull it off and make that shit listenable.

The kids are listening to heavy noise. But industrial and punk were never that popular to begin with — it's pretty rare to see someone with both Mariah Carey and Merzbow in their collections.
posted by klangklangston at 12:21 PM on February 14, 2014


No romantic dinner tonight ( that would be like going to a bar on NYE, total amateur hour ) but at some point this weekend I'm going to cook a multi-coarse, elaborate , thoroughly English dinner. Although I'm not sure what foods are in the Venn overlap between Romantic and English.

Maybe I should hit up AskMe.....
posted by The Whelk at 12:31 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I found the cringe-reading threads!

August 2012

October 2012

Enjoy reading of/living lives of miscommunication and regret!

Goodbyeeeee
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:40 PM on February 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


"Although I'm not sure what foods are in the Venn overlap between Romantic and English."

"Is this boiled ortolan?"
posted by klangklangston at 12:51 PM on February 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Ortolan is French you savage Californian
posted by The Whelk at 12:55 PM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Eat a haggis, you philistines!
posted by infini at 12:57 PM on February 14, 2014


As someone with no dating experience at all and little social ability to speak of, this thread makes me feel horribly tired.
Me too. Tired and even more depressed with the growing knowledge that the remainder of my life will largely consist of me gradually turning into the male equivalent of a crazy cat lady.
posted by dg at 1:04 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Ortolan is French you savage Californian"

Hence "boiled."

What can I say? Usually my girlfriend and I would be going out to a fancy vegan small plates restaurant tonight, but she's got to go to Florida for her grandpa's funeral, so that's pretty much a total romance killer. Especially since she's got better taste than I do.
posted by klangklangston at 1:11 PM on February 14, 2014


We're doing olives and prosciutto-wrapped melon and hummus and lovely basil bread and so on and so forth, and ice cream, and we'll be cuddled on the sofa in our jammies watching his VDay present (he doesn't know that part yet, heh).

And a bottle of Veuve because my guy is bonkers like that.

Also, Whelk, try some Delia Smith for putting together a quintessentially English meal, tweak as needed for romance. Or if you want to go all out, The Fat Duck cookbook is very modern-English and has some very romantic dishes. I advise starting prep yesterday. Or Blumenthak's In Search of Perfection series from the BBC has many dishes that are deliberately English (or adopted to England) and can be repurposed for romance.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:28 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


But industrial and punk were never that popular to begin with — it's pretty rare to see someone with both Mariah Carey and Merzbow in their collections.

Hey, to be fair, I was also the sort of 14-year-old snot who thought they deserved subcultural cred for listening to "alternative" radio.

But the stuff on the radio was starting to tilt just a wee bit towards heavy and noisy, we were all congratulating ourselves for listening to stuff that was (tilting a wee bit towards) heavy and noisy, it seemed inconceivable that any future generation of 14-year-olds would ever do their musical rebellion using anything other than volume and noise and feedback — and yet. You know?
posted by this is a thing at 1:30 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


You should do what I do for Valentine's while she's gone, klang!

Wear jammies while playing Final Fantasy for the NES and eating Oreo cookies. Then when she returns you can get some boiled tofu mock-ortolans and bask in joy!
posted by winna at 1:31 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Now I really want to work out how you'd make mock-ortolans. I'm guessing the bones and beak could be made of raw carrots?
posted by winna at 1:33 PM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Jicama has a much nicer crunch. I've never eaten ortolan though so I'm not sure what the exact texture of their bones feels like.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:34 PM on February 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Over a decade ago, my husband and I were solicited for a threesome by a friend of his, the solicitation of which managed to fly over my head so thoroughly that it wasn't until years later that the penny dropped. I actually said, out loud, "...wait a minute oh my god he was angling for a threesome." So uh, moral of the story is, if you want a threesome try being direct, I guess.
posted by PussKillian at 1:43 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Has this is a thing realized yet they are celebrating Christmas instead?
posted by infini at 1:46 PM on February 14, 2014


My wife is out of town until tomorrow. Here's my big Valentine's Day plan: play Super Mario Brothers all evening on the Wii, then sleep IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BED. Which I will have ALL TO MYSELF.
posted by double block and bleed at 2:07 PM on February 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


the male equivalent of a crazy cat lady.

Crazy cat gentleman?
posted by Room 641-A at 2:14 PM on February 14, 2014


Crazy cat gentleman?

Or dogs?


Which would make you Will from Hannibal*.


*Not entirely a bad thing.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 2:17 PM on February 14, 2014


If this does happen and you become a crazy dog man I suggest not ignoring fevers or making friends with well dressed draculas.
posted by The Whelk at 2:18 PM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


the male equivalent of a crazy cat lady.
Crazy cat gentleman?
No, the textbook male equivalent of the crazy cat lady is that guy down the street who lives alone and keeps squirrels as pets and is always wearing a puffy vest and a boonie hat.
posted by phunniemee at 2:20 PM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


I will say this thread is making so many things clear to me, like why all the girls I used the “extra ticket” thing on got so weird about it. But I really did have an extra ticket and thought they might like the band and that was the limit of my intentions! And the ones who acted like I whipped my dick out when I asked if they wanted to come over for dinner when really I just had a bunch of extra food and thought they might be hungry. Or the one who got really mad when I off-handedly said I was “going out” with someone else and asked me who I was going out with besides her and rattled off all the fun people I’d been doing cool stuff with while she sat there aghast. She thought I was manwhoring! It all makes sense now. Now I want to call them up like NO I JUST WANTED TO MAKE YOU FOOD BUT YOU THOUGHT I WANTED TO MAKE THE SEX HAHAHA OH MY GOD but that'd be even weirder. Oh god.

Seriously, resolving so many things I’d written off to “Wow these girls are weird” but then I am legendarily clueless about these sorts of things.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 2:25 PM on February 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


I will say this thread is making so many things clear to me, like why all the girls I used the “extra ticket” thing on got so weird about it. But I really did have an extra ticket and thought they might like the band and that was the limit of my intentions!

I once had an extra ticket to an opera that one of my contacts gave me as a development thing, and the usual people I'd ask to go with me to a show were all busy/hated opera, so I had to invite this girl I just recently became friends with.

I think the email went something like this.

"DEAR GIRL-I-JUST-MET,

I'm ONLY asking you because all of the usual crowd who goes with me to these shows are all busy, but I got two tickets ABSOLUTELY FREE from a COLLEAGUE to this opera and I didn't want to WASTE the other one by not offering it to someone.

So if you want to go you can pick up your ticket AHEAD OF TIME and MEET ME SEPARATELY at the opera house AT THE VERY LAST MINUTE BEFORE THE SHOW BEGINS and then WE CAN GO OUR SEPARATE WAYS IMMEDIATELY AFTER.

P.S. I AM A FLAMING HOMO AND THIS IS NOT A DATE AND I AM NOT ROMANTICALLY INTERESTED IN YOU THIS IS JUST AS FRIENDS"

(She went; I still get the impression she thought it was kind of a date in the end.)
posted by Conspire at 2:41 PM on February 14, 2014 [11 favorites]


See that's why I like a more formal approach, so you can hang out and invite people places and it's not A Thing Hovering Over You no matter how much you say it isn't. I have not run my Bell Of Romantic Intent with the silver hammer of Curious Interest, so you don't have to put a whole dating layer over this activity.

Like if hypothetically I was to date someone, I'd probably send a stiff white calling card first and declare my intentions.
posted by The Whelk at 2:45 PM on February 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


Anacdata: I am regularly around confused young people fretting about whether a planned event is a date or whether their invite was correctly perceived as a date. This is true right up through 2014. Activity spikes on the weekend. Additional texts/Facebook often complicate things.

Four letters would solve all their problems.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 2:49 PM on February 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Four letters would solve all their problems.

No, this is 2014. An app would solve all their problems. Like, Sam wants to hang out with Jaime, without the loss of face that would be the result of a rejected date proposal. So Sam logs into the app and sends the invite request to Jamie, indicating that she'd prefer Date. Jaime accepts without knowing Sam's preference, and can likewise indicate Date. If they both pick Date, then a big red heart pops up! Yay! Fun, possibly sexy times can be had! If one does not pick date, then the person who picked date is informed "Sorry, not a date" but the other person doesn't know! Fun, platonic times can be had.

Basically it's Tinder for people already in your social circle.
posted by muddgirl at 3:01 PM on February 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


"I will say this thread is making so many things clear to me, like why all the girls I used the “extra ticket” thing on got so weird about it. But I really did have an extra ticket and thought they might like the band and that was the limit of my intentions!"

Ha. I once accidentally did the extra ticket thing, and then something came up so that I couldn't go, so I gave her both tickets and then she got mad at me and I didn't understand why because, hey, free tickets!
posted by klangklangston at 3:06 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


For everyone everywhere, if I ask you for drinks or to make dinner or to partake in an extra ticket or Activity, it is because I'd like to spend time with you in that setting or I think you would enjoy said thing. I am Married. My only romantic intentions are towards fictional characters and or the actors who portray them, of whom I have a very low possibility of meeting in an appropriate context.
posted by The Whelk at 3:18 PM on February 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


it's pretty rare to see someone with both Mariah Carey and Merzbow in their collections.

I plead guilty to this. Also, my Keji Haino and Kylie Minogue. And my Aube and my ABBA. But then I also plead guilty to being something of a crazy record guy. Stick to music, kids, it's simpler than love.
posted by octobersurprise at 3:30 PM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


the loss of face that would be the result of a rejected date proposal.

I don't really understand this whole "loss of face" concept when it comes to date scheduling.

Not calling it a date isn't a magic workaround that forces me to eventually become your girlfriend, whether I want to or not.

If you ask me out on a date disguised as "just a casual hangout", and I was going to turn down a date, I will NOT take kindly to arriving and discovering that I've been shanghaied into a date. The date is not happening, no matter what you call it. If it does dawn on me that This Has Been A Date, it will be a million times more face-destroying and awkward than if you'd said, "I want to take you on a date" and I had just pretended to Have A Thing That Night. I will probably not speak to you again. This could be excruciatingly bad if we are coworkers in the same department or part of the same close circle of friends.

Better to just ask a person out of a date and let them decline gracefully.

I don't know what these dudes are afraid will happen if they say the d-word, or how it will go differently if they choose to pretend it's not a date in order to get the woman to agree.
posted by Sara C. at 3:32 PM on February 14, 2014 [10 favorites]


Has this is a thing realized yet they are celebrating Christmas instead?

Huh?
posted by this is a thing at 3:33 PM on February 14, 2014


Like if hypothetically I was to date someone, I'd probably send a stiff white calling card first and declare my intentions.

I will sign up to live in this world please. It seems so much easier. Failing that, we can all communicate with the language of flowers using flashcards instead of plants to avoid allergies.
posted by winna at 3:43 PM on February 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


I sent you a vase of York and Lancaster roses after you snubbed me for that seat at the regatta. I trust you will take the message.
posted by The Whelk at 3:45 PM on February 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


I don't really understand this whole "loss of face" concept when it comes to date scheduling.

Exactly! It only takes getting told "no" once or twice to realize there's no loss of face, and in fact no consequence at all. You ask someone out for a drink or coffee and they say either yes or know, and life goes on. People make way too much out of rejection, as if your life isn't better for having asked.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:45 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


My friend who is all moody and melodramatic and looks like Superman said I was the only person who, after asking him if he'd like to date and being told no, just brushed it off and asked for another drink.

Apparently guys got really freaking angry when he said no. Like way way more than I'd expect.
posted by The Whelk at 3:47 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, the person being asked usually wants to help save face, too. I don't think I've ever turned someone down by saying, "I don't want to go out on a date with you ever, because I'm not attracted to you." Usually I just say I'm busy.
posted by Sara C. at 4:11 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


> "I have not rung my Bell Of Romantic Intent with the silver hammer of Curious Interest ..."

I would predict a gap of roughly five minutes between the first deployment of these and the first metafilter comment that asks, "Does anyone *really* ring a Bell Of Romantic Intent with a silver hammer of Curious Interest anymore? It doesn't leave any room for ambiguity. I mean, it makes you sound like you're asking for someone to go on a date back in time to 2:45 PM PST on February 14, 2014."
posted by kyrademon at 4:18 PM on February 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


Followed by a further gap of five minutes before the registering of "Silver Hammer of Curious Interest" as a username.
posted by this is a thing at 4:27 PM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Maxwell's Silver Hammer of Curious Interest"
posted by octobersurprise at 4:53 PM on February 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


No, the textbook male equivalent of the crazy cat lady is that guy down the street who lives alone and keeps squirrels as pets and is always wearing a puffy vest and a boonie hat.

Oh, you mean my dad?
posted by like_a_friend at 5:14 PM on February 14, 2014


The golden hammer of restrained lust is rarely used in polite conversation.
posted by The Whelk at 5:14 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's sort of depressing to be single and parsing the meaning of date on Valentine's Day. It beats Valentine's Day four years ago, though, when I inadvertently dumped my girlfriend. You'd think that this misunderstanding caused by bad phrasing would be recoverable, but you'd be wrong.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:17 PM on February 14, 2014


This thread is also making me realize that all those pointlessly antiquated courting gestures that we are far too sophisticated for because we are young and hip had a goddamn point and we blew it up, like the damn dirty apes we are.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 5:18 PM on February 14, 2014 [11 favorites]


Well, I think all this "oh no I mean it's not really a date per se" stuff is in reaction to some of the excesses of the 50's, where you had parking and pinning and going steady and courting and everyone had to know how to dance.

I also feel like we've taken some of the formality out of early in the relationship, and plunked it right back down into the wedding industrial complex. Like, now you have flash mob proposals and bachelor parties that involve international travel and the whole apparatus of getting married is highly structured in a way it didn't use to be. But up until that proposal happens, you're just, like, whatever, you know?
posted by Sara C. at 5:30 PM on February 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


It beats Valentine's Day four years ago, though, when I inadvertently dumped my girlfriend. You'd think that this misunderstanding caused by bad phrasing would be recoverable, but you'd be wrong.

More than understandable if this is a story whose details can't really be shared...but I, for one would be fascinated to know how that went down, exactly.
posted by yoink at 5:30 PM on February 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


It doesn't mean "we are in a dating relationship RIGHT NOW" or something. It just means "We're on a date." This reads to me as a really simple use of the progressive form.

Nope. The noun "date" doesn't mean the same thing as the verb "date."
posted by John Cohen at 5:32 PM on February 14, 2014


But up until that proposal happens, you're just, like, whatever, you know?

Worst of all worlds: "hey, I just happen to have an extra ticket to this wedding..."
posted by yoink at 5:32 PM on February 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


So, according to Edmund White, the fission in Wilde's stories comes from super regulated social events and customs that the characters may mock, deride, or endure but would never think of not going to cause otherwise how would you do anything?

So I petition more regimented dances with formal, mathematical structures so we can grow around them rather than endure this social anarchy of guessing and indecision. We should all just get a personal, Professional Aunt to arrange them all and clear up any confusion or face lost.

Come then, take my hand, you know a marzuka then!n
posted by The Whelk at 5:32 PM on February 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


I may be saying this just cause I look good in a cutaway jacket and can waltz kinda okay.
posted by The Whelk at 5:35 PM on February 14, 2014


It's been incredibly fascinating seeing the reaction here to involving the word 'date'. I'm even more perplexed than I am when this conversation started, however. I was hoping you lovely people would take a stab at answering something that seems to go unspoken in many of the responses above:

What's the difference between a date and not a date? Is the difference strictly romantic intent? Is there some expectation that you switch the romance on and off depending on an event label? Isn't romance orthogonal to activity? What actually changes when you use the d-word?

This is still all so foreign to me, I am inordinately excited by this post. Maybe I should head over to the green... (And get some therapy)
posted by Prahan at 5:35 PM on February 14, 2014


We should all just get a personal, Professional Aunt to arrange them all and clear up any confusion or face lost.

I think her name is OK Cupid.

Seriously one of the most liberating things about dating online is that you can just assume that what you're doing is going on dates. There is a frisson of ambiguity early on as you tease out whether this is a hookup thing or a romantic thing, but at least there is some framework for what is happening.

Re formal dances, back in NY I had a friend who was really into contra dance, which is the poor American relation to Jane Austen style English Country Dances. I went with her a few times and it was unbelievably fun. I'd be curious to find out how many people meet partners that way.
posted by Sara C. at 5:39 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


What's the difference between a date and not a date?

Well, there's endless grey area and fuzziness, of course, but when you go "on a date" with someone you both know that romance is a possibility. That is, the unspoken contract is that you are both open to the possibility of a romance with the other person and that the date is part of the process of figuring out just how far down the romance path you're going to go. When you go "hang out" with someone you may very well feel very interested in the possibility of a romance with them, but they've said nothing at all as to their interest in the possibility of a romance with you. Such interest may, of course, blossom while you're "hanging out." It's even possible that during a "hanging out" event you'll arrive at a point where you're clearly, actually, "on a date." But if you ask someone out "on a date" the interest in the possibility of romance and in the possibility of deepening one's romantic connection (if already begun) is explicit and clear on both sides.
posted by yoink at 5:40 PM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Dear old Aunt Octavia Kaiser Cupid suggested we have tea together...
posted by The Whelk at 5:43 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


What's the difference between a date and not a date? Is the difference strictly romantic intent?

Yes.

This is why it can be so confusing.

Let's take the frequent date activity of "go out for drinks".

There are a lot of other contexts in which I go out for drinks. I might go out with coworkers for networking or blowing-off-steam purposes. I might go out in a co-ed group of friends, or one on one with a friend of either gender.

So if you ask me if I want to "have a drink sometime", that could mean pretty much anything from "I want career advice" to "just hanging out as friends" to "I am hoping the evening will end in sex".

This is why, if it's the latter, it's best to establish that right out of the gate.

There are some date activities that send certain signals, but those signals usually only work in combination with other signals and generally it devolves into a game of semaphore pretty quickly unless there is some overarching context that makes things crystal clear.
posted by Sara C. at 5:45 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


"More than understandable if this is a story whose details can't really be shared...but I, for one would be fascinated to know how that went down, exactly."

It was pretty awful. Not really that interesting a story, just kind of a tragedy.

We'd only been dating for a month, had been friends for years prior, and had intended that our hooking up would be a FWB thing but to our surprise fell quickly in love. So there was some uncertainty about how quickly things had happened.

And then early (like 2AM) VD we were talking on the phone and I was trying to get her to explain what had been bothering her, because I could tell something had been. And she confessed (but not in a sorrowful way, but in an irritated way) that she was feeling resentful about worrying about me during the previous few days while I'd had some health concerns. Well, the thing is, I have health problems and there's no avoiding that; if this was a problem for her, that's a problem, right?

I was a little hurt, a little alarmed, but not angry or anything. Just taken aback and thinking, okay, see, this is an evidence that maybe we took things too quickly.

So after explaining that I'm going to have health problems and that this is something that's not going to go away, I said, without thinking carefully about how I worded it, "Maybe we should go back to being friends?"

After about twenty seconds of silence, she responded, "I would have thought that you would be the very last person in the entire world to dump me on Valentine's Day" and then hung up the phone.

Leaving me wondering what the hell happened. That was totally not what I intended. I wasn't saying that's what I wanted to do, and I wasn't making an ultimatum or anything. I'd thought I was opening up the discussion to considering that we'd been going to fast and should take a few steps back.

Anyway, the next few days were really shitty for both of us. I heard from a friend that she spent much of Valentine's Day crying. She wouldn't take my calls, although I began trying to call her and explain a couple of hours after she'd hung up on me. A couple of weeks later, we reconciled, but that whole thing completely changed the tenor of our relationship and in some respects, poisoned it. It didn't last.

I'm pretty much the last person I'd expect to dump someone on Valentine's Day, too. I'm both sad and bemused that I've got that stain on my relationship record.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:52 PM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Seriously one of the most liberating things about dating online is that you can just assume that what you're doing is going on dates.

So when I was last active on there (which was seriously ten years ago now) this definitely did not work.

In fact, OkC just ended up being the defacto Kinky/Nerdy/Alternative Friend Finder in my town, because the local BDSM community was awful and FetLife didn't exist yet and there was no hackerspace in town and the gay bars sucked and the bar that had Grateful Dead Nite was in a neighborhood where people kept getting shot and the pagan student alliance at the local university had fizzled out and blah blah blah. So then suddenly there was this cluster of people who were all into various subsets of that shit and had all found each other on OK Cupid and as far as I know none of them actually ended up shagging because they were too busy networking instead.

That website netted me a regular D&D game, a couple lessons on how to swing a flogger, and a pretty decent connection for shrooms, but it did not get me laid once.
posted by this is a thing at 5:53 PM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Weird.

Sorry your town is so resistant to Jeeves And Woosterification.
posted by Sara C. at 6:00 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah. The shrooms were pretty good, though.
posted by this is a thing at 6:04 PM on February 14, 2014


"In fact, OkC just ended up being the defacto Kinky/Nerdy/Alternative Friend Finder in my town..."

I haven't been on OKC for a year, but just lately I've been thinking about using it to find friends, even though almost no one uses it that way. But "looking for friends" is an option. And you'd think it would be really good for this purpose, what with all the questions and how they point to similar interests and stuff — the "similarity" number is the relevant one for those purposes, not the "match" number, of course. "Friends" meaning both men and women, of course. But straight men can be weird about other men browsing their profile.

Over about ten years I've used OKC on-and-off. I'm very particular, while I certainly wouldn't turn down an offer of casual sex with someone I found attractive, that is so far from a priority for me that I'm not motivated to look for casual sex. I'm interested in people who I will really like, people with common interests and values, and there's not that many people like that, especially in this part of the world and in my age-range. (Lots of folks like that here, but fat lot of good that does me.)

So in all that time, I've probably gone on no more than maybe twelve coffee dates. Possibly twice as many extended message/email conversations exploring whether a coffee date is a good idea. (Yes, I know, you should really just go meet right away, but I found that difficult to do.)

Never met anyone where it went beyond a second coffee date. And I find OKC to be much better than the other online dating sites.

Okay, so the point of me mentioning this is that some of those folk (women — I habitually don't use gender specific language, in case you wondered) were people I'd have liked to, well, hang out with and be friends. But what Sara C. says above, and it's true, cuts the other way, too. It makes it less likely to just meet someone you can become friends with, because the context is All About Romance/Sex.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:05 PM on February 14, 2014


But the context of OK Cupid gives you a framework to specify what you want, even if it is to just be friends.

I've definitely gotten a few "you seem cool, and I'm not really looking to date anyone, but want to hang out as just friends?" messages before.
posted by Sara C. at 6:12 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


> "What's the difference between a date and not a date? Is the difference strictly romantic intent?"

Wellllllll ... yes, in a sense, but also no.

I mean yes, in that in *general* the kinds of things you do on a date are usually the same kinds of things you might do with a friend.

But also no, in that the fact that there is acknowledged romantic intent creates important changes to the kinds of things you are likely to do *within* that context. I've had dinner and gone to a show with a friend, and had dinner and gone to a show on a date, and the former has generally not included e.g. hand-holding, kissing, or sex afterwards, while the latter sometimes has. On a less overt and physical level, a date is more likely to include conversations about your lives, interests, or even politics or religion, as the people involved attempt to reveal themselves and learn about the other specifically in terms of romantic compatibility.

And in fact, acknowledged romantic intent can change the default meaning of certain things, such as being invited into or accepting an invitation into someone's home. This could happen when just hanging out or on a date, sure. But with a friend, I'd assume we're going to chat or watch a movie or play videogames or whatever that friend likes to do. Whereas with a date, at least the possibility of making out to some degree has probably just been raised.
posted by kyrademon at 6:43 PM on February 14, 2014


"I'm pretty much the last person I'd expect to dump someone on Valentine's Day, too. I'm both sad and bemused that I've got that stain on my relationship record."

I've been dumped on Valentine's day, but it was pretty much the least traumatic dumping I've ever experienced. Pro-tip: When the coworker you have a crush on sets you up with her sister, you will never be able to parlay that into dating the coworker you have a crush on, no matter how much hanging out at their house watching The Big Lebowski you do.

(That was also the most mismatched relationship I've ever been in, though she did teach me how to shoplift CDs at Meijer's.)
posted by klangklangston at 6:47 PM on February 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


That website netted me a regular D&D game, a couple lessons on how to swing a flogger, and a pretty decent connection for shrooms, but it did not get me laid once.

I'm not so sure about the D&D game, but combining the other two definitely has sexual potential.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:59 PM on February 14, 2014


He said 'swing a flogger', not 'flog a swinger'.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:01 PM on February 14, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm not so sure about the D&D game, but combining the other two definitely has sexual potential.

All the roleplayers I know have mad weird lots of sex, so I'd say yes. Every modifier in my previous statement can be documented with science.
posted by winna at 7:14 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's funny, everyone I met on like Manhunt when I first moved to NYC turned into really good friends and I never had sex with any of them but hey, online gay male socialization - despite it being a hookup site a lot of guys really just wanted to hang out.

(cues up "You can't always get what you want" on the iPod)
posted by The Whelk at 7:17 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


What's the difference between a date and not a date?

SAM
[smiling] You're asking me out on a date.

MALLORY
No.

SAM
No?

MALLORY
No, I'm asking you if you'd like to go together with me to see an internationally renowned opera company perform a work indigenous to its culture.

SAM
Right, and in what way will it distinguish itself from a date?

MALLORY
There will be, under no circumstances, sex for you at the end of the evening.

SAM
Okay.
posted by ceribus peribus at 7:33 PM on February 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


My most famous-on-MeFi dumping was the day before Valentine's Day. Also shitty, but at least not on the day.

I had a friend who was really into contra dance, which is the poor American relation to Jane Austen style English Country Dances. I went with her a few times and it was unbelievably fun. I'd be curious to find out how many people meet partners that way.

Loads. I've been in and around contra people all my adult life - it's pretty big in various parts of New England in the more crunchy-hippie-community circles. And there are a lot of couples that emerge from contra dancing.

I also got into swing dancing in my early 30s. That suit my personal taste much better than contra, but both were kind of a revelation to someone who grew up in the era of "stand in a circle, bounce and touch no one" era of dancing. Social partnered dance is something societies invented for a great reason. You get to show up on your own, then spend your evening partnering with different people every five or ten minutes. Your interaction is friendly and physically very intimate, but governed by custom, so you're safe and respected the entire time. You can demonstrate your own style and flair and try to find people who can bring a similar panache. You can draw closer to someone you're really grooving with, or keep a formal distance from someone you're less interested in. And once you're dancing, the degrees of subtle interaction, from the placement of a hand on a back or shoulder to eye contact to degree of daring move, create a whole private and potentially very sexy story. And then, the song stops, it's over, and you can dance with someone else. Some contra people jokingly call the whole thing "sanctioned adultery," and I always thought that was silly, but swing dancing taught me that we threw out an important baby with the bathwater when the Boomers rejected partnered dancing with a shared vocabulary of movements for the "freedom" of random gyrations. There is a lot of testing the waters, trying out hundreds of partners, gauging chemistry, learning to communicate, learning to compromise and be generous, and sheer enjoyment of someone else's physicality in close partnered dancing - and all at a sort of transcendent, magical level far beyond what you can attain just pawing around with someone randomly on a dance floor.

A lot of couples meet through swing dancing too. There are very few married serious swing dancers who aren't married to other serious swing dancers.
posted by Miko at 7:36 PM on February 14, 2014 [12 favorites]


One of my things I plan to do this year is take a dance class. I look forward to it but also don't, because I worry that it will be weird for me to go by myself. However, since it's such a girly thing to want to do I'm reassuring myself by assuming that I won't be the only solo lady in the class.

Is that a safe assumption? I literally know no men I could drag to dance class with me, so if I have to show up with a dude I guess I will go to my beloved American Ballroom Companion and start printing out all those inadequate diagrams with feet on them instead.
posted by winna at 7:48 PM on February 14, 2014


Oh, totally not. Women usually outnumber men. But not crazily so; you'd be surprised. A lot of men get interested in dance too (it's a nice way to interact, it's structured, it has style, it's sober at least in lessons/classes, it gives everyone a chance, and duh there are a lot of women there) It's not a big deal. If it's uneven, women will dance with women and the more experienced one will lead, so you can learn what you need to learn either way. Of if there are like 5 men and 6 women, women will just take turns and one will wait out each short section of class, and then jump back in in a rotation.

In my experiences, most people attending dance classes are attending single.
posted by Miko at 7:53 PM on February 14, 2014


Here is a flower flashcard!
posted by winna at 8:30 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Crazy cat gentleman?
Or dogs?

Well, I'm not a gentleman and not really a pet person at all really, so I don't think these are right

No, the textbook male equivalent of the crazy cat lady is that guy down the street who lives alone and keeps squirrels as pets and is always wearing a puffy vest and a boonie hat.
Yep. Allowing for geographic differences (no squirrels here), I think that's about it. Probably need to throw in some kind of weird feud with the neighborhood crazy cat lady, just for balance.

I don't really understand this whole "loss of face" concept when it comes to date scheduling.
It's probably hard, or even impossible, for someone who is confident and has at least passable social ability to understand. There are some people (and I'm one) for whom asking someone out on a date would be a very big deal. Not only because it's something that I'm not practiced at or because I've been in a relationship for all but the last year or thereabouts of the last two decades, or because the very few times in my life I've done this, the answer has been either no or some variant of 'you must be fucking joking, you freak', but because the anxiety something like that induces in me (even just the thought of it) is both ludicrous (how my logical brain sees it) and paralyzing (as the rest of my brain sees it). I don't know how to explain it other than to say that, for some it is a very big deal to even ask, precisely because of the fear of rejection.
posted by dg at 12:16 AM on February 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Failing that, we can all communicate with the language of flowers using flashcards instead of plants to avoid allergies.

A friend of mine did a great deal of writing for the Cryptofloricon, which is almost exactly that. (Although they do now have a hookup with a few florists, if allergens hold no terror for you)
posted by metaBugs at 6:34 AM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm way late (how did I miss this?) but I'm in my twenties in a metropolitan city and I absolutely prefer using the word date, whether asking or receiving.

Years ago, I had a guy ask me to go on a movie. I strongly thought that it would be a group activity judging by his words, and was rather dismayed to find out upon arrival that it was just the two of us. And he kept trying to sit too close to me. Now, he was a nice guy, and I had no social chops whatsoever; I just kept thinking "This is so weird" without putting the kaboosh on it because it wasn't a date, right? I mean, if it was, he would've said so, right?

And, as I mentioned more recently, I have personally misinterpreted (in very recent years, as a matter of fact!!) "Let's go out for dinner and then go for a walk on the beach" as something purely platonic. I like small group settings. I can't really think of people in a romantic way before I get to know them, so I try to get to know them (small group settings are preferred to have conversation buffers, but one-on-one is fine too) first. It usually doesn't even occur to me that the activity might be a date, because, hell, you barely know me!

Yes, my social radar has been improved over recent years, but the above is my default reaction. So...maybe this is a regional thing, maybe it's a preference thing, but this millennial would use, and would rather (the hypothetical) you use, the freakin' word date.
posted by Zelos at 12:52 PM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, having been on the other side of that, it was kinda like magic when I figured out that I could just ask girls I liked on a date and then not have to deal with any of that awkwardness. It worked the first time, then it just kept working, until I didn't need it anymore.
posted by klangklangston at 1:03 PM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's probably hard, or even impossible, for someone who is confident and has at least passable social ability to understand. There are some people (and I'm one) for whom asking someone out on a date would be a very big deal.

Oh, by no means should you confuse me with someone who is confident and has passable social ability. I'm as awkward as they come.

But outside of middle school, seriously, nobody is going to say "haha no way you freak" if they don't want to go on a date with you.

And, again, just forgetting to mention that this is going to be a date is not a magic "now you have to marry me" spell. You lose a lot more face if you trick someone into going on a date than you do if you ask them out and they say no.
posted by Sara C. at 2:15 PM on February 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


IME it's not always about "tricking" anyone into anything, from the perspective of the asker (of course there are sexual predators who take advantage of these situations, but I don't think all people who avoid being explicit are predators). It's about irrationally delaying the point when you will be rejected as long as possible, with the hope, I guess, that you never will be rejected. Of course it doesn't make logical sense, because people don't operate on a purely logical plane.
posted by muddgirl at 2:43 PM on February 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


No, definitely not about tricking anyone - muddgirl pretty much nails it, I think. Quite the reverse, I think - it would be much less pressure to not declare an 'event' a date of up front, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's some correlation between those who are nervous about asking someone on a date and those who would never try to trick someone into going on a date in the first place. But yeah, if you never ask, you never have to relive the rejection. So I never ask.

Also, yes, 'haha no way you freak' reactions can and do happen well beyond the school years.
posted by dg at 3:05 PM on February 15, 2014


Never asking and just never going out with people you're not sure would go out with you? Sure. That's my love life in a nutshell.

Stealth asking by making plans to do something not specifically called a date, but then the person gets there and This Has Been A Date? Yeah, that's called tricking someone into going out with you, and is a recipe for much worse rejection than just "I have to wash my hair" or whatever.

It doesn't become "not a trick" because the trickster is a really meek and awkward person who would never deliberately set out to trick someone.

If you ask someone out under the auspices of being just friends because you know they otherwise wouldn't date you, you are tricking someone into going on a date.
posted by Sara C. at 3:31 PM on February 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yep, agree totally. Which is what I thought I said - those who are less likely to ask someone on a date are also less likely to try and trick someone into doing so by pretending it's something else. Predatory behaviour and social awkwardness don't usually go together, in my experience.
posted by dg at 3:45 PM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


The people I imagined using my imaginary Save Face app aren't the kinds of people who give you "an extra ticket" then try to kiss you. They're the people who keep hanging out one-on-one with a person they have a crush on, keep thinking that they're seeing signs of interest, but are too scared or unsure to take it to the next level. That's the kind of person who posts to AskMe looking for advice on how to indicate that they like someone, which is the kind of person who usually gets the advice to "just use the word date already!"
posted by muddgirl at 4:14 PM on February 15, 2014


Also, if this wasn't clear, my App was a joke. Just use the word date already!
posted by muddgirl at 4:15 PM on February 15, 2014


Ask vs guess culture is a highly useful framing device for this, yes. Although I'd wager that an awful lot of people who identify with "ask culture" in 99% of their lives suddenly become "guess culture" in their dating habits.

Yeah, I'm "ask culture" 99 percent of the time, to the point that it has actually negatively impacted my relationships with the more "guess culture" people in my life (that came up again just this evening, in fact). But I would never ask someone to "go on a date" with me (not least of all because I'm married, but still). It's always been asking someone to "go out" for something for a single date and that we'd be "going out" for dating on a regular basis. It's both a way of subtly saving face in the early stages and just a cooler way of putting it than the archaic "Will you go on a date with me?" or "We're dating."
posted by limeonaire at 9:11 PM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


just a cooler way of putting it than the archaic "Will you go on a date with me?" or "We're dating."

It just never reads as "cool" to me. It reads as trying to be cool, or alternately, as cowardly.

I have to admit my stance on this is somewhat biased by the fact that every guy I've been involved with who refused to say "a date" or "dating" pretty much was trying to get away with something--springing a date on me that I never would have agreed to, leaving a door open for non-exclusivity when my expectations were otherwise ("but we're just seeing each other, and i am also seeing eight other women!!) and that sort of shenanigans.

I have one friend who has been involved with at least 10 women in the time I've known him. Sometimes for up to a year! But he only ever says "person I'm seeing." Never girlfriend. Never "dating." And yeah, he pretty much uses it as a linguistic excuse to remain thoroughly emotionally unavailable to every single one of them, until they dump him in a blaze of fury and scorn. OR he dumps them in a clinical business way, and THEN they have the fury and scorn.

So it just always strikes me as a dodge, and immediately puts me on the defensive.
posted by like_a_friend at 1:33 PM on February 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Yeah. I think the word "date" isn't necessary, but "let's not call this a relationship or tell anyone we're dating" is always a yellow flag in my book.

I'm not that interested in dating people who care so little about me that they don't want people to know we're together.
posted by Sara C. at 2:20 PM on February 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


just a cooler way of putting it than the archaic "Will you go on a date with me?" or "We're dating."

It just never reads as "cool" to me. It reads as trying to be cool, or alternately, as cowardly.

I have to admit my stance on this is somewhat biased by the fact that every guy I've been involved with who refused to say "a date" or "dating" pretty much was trying to get away with something


To clarify, if I were to say I was "going out" with someone, that would mean I would also be calling that person my "boyfriend" or "girlfriend." I never used it to weasel out of defining a relationship. Just because you know people who have refused to say they were "dating" anyone doesn't mean the term is necessary to define the meaning of an outing or relationship, or that not using that word should automatically make someone suspect.
posted by limeonaire at 5:31 PM on February 16, 2014


Just because you know people who have refused to say they were "dating" anyone doesn't mean the term is necessary to define the meaning of an outing or relationship, or that not using that word should automatically make someone suspect.

That is why I said my view was biased. It's not fair, but luckily it affects exactly zero people (it would possibly affect men who were interested in me, but as I'm in a committed relationship, they can safely assume that any rejection is based on that and not on unfortunate word choice).

For at least the 3rd time in this thread: if you are capable of clearly telegraphing your intentions to the other party without the use of the foxy-grandpa word "date," then saints be praised and go about your ways! If you are not: you may find the word a useful shorthand for "I have romantic interest which I am hoping to explore and see reciprocated through a joint consumption of beverages".

Though seriously I would probably think about marrying a guy who used the latter. Let us celebrate our agreement with the adding of chocolate to milk.
posted by like_a_friend at 6:07 PM on February 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


"Let us celebrate our agreement with the adding of chocolate to milk."

Ooh, my knees are weak.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:10 PM on February 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


We'd only been dating for a month, had been friends for years prior, and had intended that our hooking up would be a FWB thing but to our surprise fell quickly in love. So there was some uncertainty about how quickly things had happened.

My dad shared some Man Knowledge™ passed down from one of my old relatives today, like a guy who died in the 70s or some shit because he was around to party with Nucky Thompson, kind of old-school knowledge.

It was basically that valentines day fucks up more relationships than it makes cuter, and more fights happen on that day than any other day of the year. The thinking man makes some sort of plan to do something REALLY basic on that day, and then makes a fancy dinner plan/whatever romantic stuff he wanted to do the monday after or whenever to shift a lot of the load off of that day. After the freaking disaster i had this valentines day it seems oddly prescient.

Additionally, for only being in my early-mid 20s, i've seen an inordinate amount of relationships that started around new years, or even around thanksgiving blow apart directly on or within a few days either direction of valentines day. I myself have experienced this too.

The entire "you're doing/not going to do THIS?!? on valentines day??" thing is the root of the problem. people front load SO much weight on that freaking day that any sort of minor misunderstanding or frustration becomes a relationship-ending explosion. I've seen this from men and women, and heard stories of it from non-hetero relationships as well.

I honestly blame all the "this day has to be romantic and disney and perfect!" baggage and cultural brainwashing for a lot of that. A more dongheaded bloke might make some "lol women" point here, but it's really like some deep seated western cultural bullshit.

So yea, reading that story my first thought wasn't some "lol you dodged a bullet there" garbage, but just how sad it is that people jump to shitty conclusions constantly under the pressure of that day. ugh.
posted by emptythought at 8:46 PM on February 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


I had the first and probably only amazing Valentine's Day of my life this year. I have nothing further to add to the conversation, I just really feel like I need to share this information.
posted by Sara C. at 8:50 PM on February 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


Grrrr txt me or FaceTime or Skype or tweet Sarac.....inquiring minds...
posted by sweetkid at 9:25 PM on February 16, 2014


"So yea, reading that story my first thought wasn't some 'lol you dodged a bullet there' garbage, but just how sad it is that people jump to shitty conclusions constantly under the pressure of that day. ugh."

I've never really thought about it in that context because I'm pretty sure that the disagreement and the unintentional break-up would have happened regardless of what day it was. But, I think you're right insofar as it being Valentine's Day made it much more difficult to recover from. It raised the stakes quite a bit.

Another crappy thing about it for me was that I'd fallen for her head-over-heels more than anyone, really, since I'd been a teen. More than I'd fallen for my ex-wife.

Normally Valentine's Day is no big deal for me and the hokey, super-saturated, over-sentimental stuff in the week or so leading up to Valentine's Day is just annoying — but that year, I found myself getting all verklempt at romantic stuff. I mean, seriously, a fucking shamelessly manipulative jewelry store commercial which normally would have made me frantically stab my car radio in an attempt to change the station instead got me all misty-eyed and to (briefly) contemplate buying some stupid necklace or something.

So I was feeling very tender-hearted and romantic that day, looking forward to making it something special.

Which turned out to be the case, in a manner of speaking.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:10 PM on February 16, 2014


I honestly blame all the "this day has to be romantic and disney and perfect!" baggage and cultural brainwashing for a lot of that.

But it's weird, right, because we all know that that cultural baggage is out there and weighs heavily on people, some more than others, you'd think individual people who are in intimate-ish relationships with other people would be able to communicate clearly and honestly about their expectations? And it's weird that this isn't the case. Not outside of the range of expectation but you'd think if you'd been with the same person for years, people would have hammered this out and found some language to communicate mutual/shared expectations. Me and the SO had a discussion about the pervasive "If your gal tells you she doesn't want anything, it's a TRAP" meme that I saw going around this year with me saying specifically "This is not a trap, I'd like a little something in the mail and that is it"

We're in an LDR so some years we get to spend VDay together and some we don't. This time we didn't. I sent him a little thing in the mail. He sent me a little thing in the mail. In the past he'd sent me little home made puzzle valentines (rebuses, other stuff) in the mail and I've kept them on the fridge for years. This year he sent me flowers which were nice and pretty (and had a card in ROT-13) but I felt like a weird harridan for being like "Aww no puzzle?" So after some "Wow these flowers are super nice and what a surprise" I asked if he wouldn't mind doing me a favor and sending me a fridge-puzzle at some other point, later, because I love having them on my fridge. I think he didn't know how much I loved the goofy things.

So it's not the textbook-romantic "Oh my god he READ my MIND, this is PERFECT" setup, but I am not that woman and he is not that guy and I think realistically, a lot of people don't slot into those roles, which should be fine. But, like the topic of the original thread, having some (supposedly) unsexy conversation about what you're really looking for, can stop VDay from turning into some ASCII drama

A: (ʘ‿ʘ). . o O ( ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ )
B: ( ¬‿¬) @}-,-`- @}-,-`- @}-,-`-
A: (ಠ_ಠ)
B: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
A: (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻)
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:59 AM on February 17, 2014 [16 favorites]


Additionally, for only being in my early-mid 20s, i've seen an inordinate amount of relationships that started around new years, or even around thanksgiving blow apart directly on or within a few days either direction of valentines day. I myself have experienced this too.

Way back in the dark ages when I was in my 20s this was a thing. And now, among those people who survived into adulthood, it no longer is.

But, you know, dating in your 20s is marked with all sorts of that crap. You have this expectation that the person you are with is just supposed to know you so well you shouldn't ever have to tell them what you want - and well, that sort of thing takes years and years of a relationship to develop. Which is exactly what you won't have in a something thats been going on for weeks.

I remember one fight/breakup that went like this:
Her: How could you not know I didn't want to eat at that restaurant.
Me: You never said anything, what am I psychic ?
Her: You're supposed to know me. To know who I am.
Me : Whatever.

But you know, I'm only in my 40s. Who knows what crap I find normal now I will think was immature bullshit when I'm in my 60s.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:25 AM on February 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


But you know, I'm only in my 40s. Who knows what crap I find normal now I will think was immature bullshit when I'm in my 60s.

If my mother is to be believed, apparently things get way less mature in your 60s and you are expected to tolerate a LOT more bullshit, on the grounds of "well we're too old to change now!"

:/
posted by like_a_friend at 8:13 AM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


In my social circle there was also this thing you did, where you would avoid any difficult topics shortly before valentine's day, because it might turn into a fight and then you'd end up spending That Special Day with a cloud over your heads and it would be Awkward.

So if you were starting to get irritated with some minor thing your partner was doing in early February, you'd just kind of take deep breaths and hold it all in and let the tension build and frame it in your head as a sacrifice you were making for the other person's sake (to prevent Awkwardness!) and it would all fester and curdle and come spewing out sometime right around The Special Motherfucking Day in question.

(There were even a few people I knew who got as far as deciding to unilaterally break up with someone, but still kept their mouth shut until after valentine's day. To Prevent Awkwardness! But even as young and dumb as we were, we had an inkling that that might have been taking things a bit far.)
posted by this is a thing at 8:29 AM on February 17, 2014


Nope. The noun "date" doesn't mean the same thing as the verb "date."

I hate the neologism "date" for "go on a date with." I have no intention of dating anyone, and nobody will ever date me.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:02 AM on February 17, 2014


"Also, if this wasn't clear, my App was a joke. Just use the word date already!"

You posted that when my app was this close to beta rollout!
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:12 AM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Dating is one of those places, I think, where weird internalized cultural patriarchal bullshit gets exposed, like a bad rash. When a friend of mine recently re-entered the dating world in his mid-thirties, he had a really hard time saying outright on his OKC profile "I am looking for a partner, I am looking for the person to spend the rest of my life with, I do not want to be dating any more, I want to be settled in my life," because the cultural narrative of What A Man Wants -- namely, to be free and sow his wild oats until he meets The Woman who turns his heart and settles him down -- was so strong, he felt like he was going to come across as creepy or desperate.

And women, of course, get that same thing but from every direction, where we are desperate and pathetic if we're looking for a partner in our thirties but vile and amoral if we're just looking to casually date, and complete harpies if we're just happy in our career and our passions and ourselves and not really looking for companionship at all. You can see why people sort of flop around with euphemisms and mixed signals, it's a complete minefield.
posted by KathrynT at 9:26 AM on February 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


But you know, I'm only in my 40s. Who knows what crap I find normal now I will think was immature bullshit when I'm in my 60s.

If my mother is to be believed, apparently things get way less mature in your 60s and you are expected to tolerate a LOT more bullshit, on the grounds of "well we're too old to change now!"


This is true. Especially once they start reaching a certain crankiness in the late sixties and beyond... my mother will still roll eyes at dad and he hinted to me that she hadn't matured after age 20... but their 49th wedding anniversary is next week so whatever
posted by infini at 9:27 AM on February 17, 2014


As a long-divorced lady, my mom just has to keep on dating, then dumping, a series of men who turn out to be incredibly racist, lazy dickheads.
posted by like_a_friend at 10:19 AM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Rustic Etruscan: "I have no intention of dating anyone, and nobody will ever date me."

Probably true.
posted by Lexica at 12:52 PM on February 17, 2014


I hate explaining jokes, especially my own, but this one really makes no sense without the relevant material.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:07 PM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


thanks, because I had no idea.
posted by sweetkid at 1:18 PM on February 17, 2014


Likewise. Was concerned.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:22 PM on February 17, 2014


"Me and the SO had a discussion about the pervasive "If your gal tells you she doesn't want anything, it's a TRAP" meme that I saw going around this year with me saying specifically "This is not a trap, I'd like a little something in the mail and that is it""

One of the reasons why I love my girlfriend is that we can both be kind of blind on stuff like that, so we have the explicit, "If you don't tell me, don't assume I know" agreement. (Something that helps me when I feel heaped with cultural baggage is to remember that I'm not dating anyone who's in commercials or is the broader consensus — I'm only responsible for what my girlfriend wants, not everyone else.)

"There were even a few people I knew who got as far as deciding to unilaterally break up with someone, but still kept their mouth shut until after valentine's day. To Prevent Awkwardness! But even as young and dumb as we were, we had an inkling that that might have been taking things a bit far."

Heh. Like I mentioned upthread, the one time I was kinda doing this, she dumped me instead. But overall, I got some pretty good stories out of it, including going with my buddies to Red Lobster for the only time in my life that night, and finding out that the only thing they served that was vegetarian was mozzarella sticks — and then, only in a 30-platter. I remember going home and just wolfing granola, in hopes of balancing out the horrible logey bomb creeping through my intestines.
posted by klangklangston at 1:56 PM on February 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I would totally trade a valentine's day breakup for a 30-piece order of mozzarella sticks.

In fact, I think that if I ever decided to be one of those people who celebrates valentine's day, "let's go order 30 mozzarella sticks!" would really be my ideal choice.
posted by Sara C. at 4:05 PM on February 17, 2014


you are Liz Lemon and I claim my $5.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:33 PM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


you can't eat 30 mozzarella sticks they'd go cold before you finished.

You need an oven to stagger them with waffle fries and other such things.
posted by The Whelk at 4:35 PM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]



On the other hand, a sudden "I'm so lubricated right now" from a woman I was chatting with (and for whom english was a second language, although I didn't know it at the time), that was awesome comedy gold (I laughed so hard I cried, but she eventually landed me, so there's that.)


This thread seems to have missed the fact that "I'm so lubricated right now" is the best thing to say ever, and all vagina-having persons should start saying this as a pickup line immediately.
posted by medusa at 4:36 PM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


you can't eat 30 mozzarella sticks they'd go cold before you finished.

I would marry anyone who could eat 15 of those bad boys before they got cold.

And, yes, man/twists/turns I am Liz Lemon and have known it for years.
posted by Sara C. at 4:38 PM on February 17, 2014


"I'm so lubricated right now" is the best thing to say ever, and all vagina-having persons should start saying this as a pickup line immediately.

I see no reason to restrict this to people with vaginas.
posted by KathrynT at 4:47 PM on February 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


Oh good, I always thought I'd be an excellent Jenna, I was the best boy and best grip at the Pine Barrens Motel Academy For Troubled Teens And Young Actors.
posted by The Whelk at 4:47 PM on February 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't get it, Sara it's the PR shoot and no one's looking at me. Why aren't they looking at me? Oh god. Am I invisible? Am I dead? Am I a ghost?!

*Attempts to put hand through Sara's shoulder*

Oh no, you're a ghost too! That explains so much!
posted by The Whelk at 4:57 PM on February 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


"I would totally trade a valentine's day breakup for a 30-piece order of mozzarella sticks.

In fact, I think that if I ever decided to be one of those people who celebrates valentine's day, "let's go order 30 mozzarella sticks!" would really be my ideal choice.
"

My friend Jeremy's grandmother had given him a $100 gift certificate for Red Lobster, and so he invited, like, five of us out with him for Valentine's Day. It was a pretty grand time, but I can say that if you eat anywhere near the majority of 30 mozzarella sticks, you will feel like you've swallowed a bag of cement.
posted by klangklangston at 5:01 PM on February 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


"It was a pretty grand time, but I can say that if you eat anywhere near the majority of 30 mozzarella sticks, you will feel like you've swallowed a bag of cement."

You say that like it's a bad thing.

There was a pretty good pizza place down the road that, in addition to good pizza, also had really good calzone. My SO and I affectionately referred to the calzone as "the cheese bomb". My god, was that ever good. You say it's a bag of cement, I say it's a bag of contentment. IN THE FORM OF DELICIOUS CHEESE.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:13 PM on February 17, 2014


Yeah, we would have to have sex before dinner rather than after, obviously.

I think of everything.
posted by Sara C. at 5:16 PM on February 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


I see no reason to restrict this to people with vaginas.

Good point. I apologize for the sexism of my previous comment. We can all be so lubricated right now.
posted by medusa at 8:39 PM on February 17, 2014


I consider this to be a lubrication. I am lubricating you right now.
posted by kyrademon at 9:12 PM on February 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh good. I was starting to get squeaky.
posted by this is a thing at 10:45 PM on February 17, 2014


The lubrication is coming from within the house.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:25 PM on February 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I would marry anyone who could eat 15 of those bad boys before they got cold.
How long would such a person have to keep them down for? Asking for a friend.
posted by dg at 1:44 AM on February 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


In my unfortunate surprised experience, I have come to the conclusion that if a man asks a woman to do something, anything--he means it as a date. Period. Doesn't matter how unlikely it is that he would like you like that--he's old enough to be your grandfather or grandson, whatever-- it's probably a date. I would add "if he's a single man" as a qualifier to that, but unfortunately if he's married, that only makes it more like 50/50 that it is one.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:05 PM on February 18, 2014


Boy, some of my women friends are gonna be awful surprised to find out we've been "dating" for 20+ years . . . . .
posted by soundguy99 at 10:13 PM on February 18, 2014


Yeah, same here. My best friend is going to be particularly surprised because, with the amount of time we've spent together over the past eight years or so, we should obviously be at least married by now.
posted by dg at 12:35 AM on February 19, 2014


So... because of this thread, I compromised with my wussy ambiguous self and used the word date in a letter. Not an email, but a letter written separately and then attached. I would have used ink and paper but hey, the edit function is a useful thing when its the middle of the night and you're pouring your soul out on paper hoping its articulate and clear and communicates what you hope it will.

Thanks mefites for a timely kick in the ass.
posted by infini at 3:50 AM on February 19, 2014


In my unfortunate surprised experience, I have come to the conclusion that if a man asks a woman to do something, anything--he means it as a date. Period.

So when I asked a woman friend to be the best man at my wedding, that was meant as a date?
posted by Area Man at 5:33 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


In my unfortunate surprised experience, I have come to the conclusion that if a man asks a woman to do something, anything--he means it as a date. Period.

I agree with those who are snarking because this comment is overgeneral. At the same time, I think there is a nugget of truth in it that goes back to being clear about your intentions. It did resonate with me in a rueful way; as a het, cis female, I've certainly had experiences in life being offered the chance to spend time with a person of the het, cis male persuasion, while assuming (because of any lack of specificity about the nature of his intent and often because of the apparent unlikeliness of us choosing each other as a partner) that it was a platonic, comfortable, friendly sort of outing, only to find that his ideas were very different. And only to find that out only once already out and in some intimate situation, often alone, with him.

I know it seems like a statement so silly as to be extreme, and I would never go so far as to say that every friendly interaction with a male ultimately turns out to reflect romantic or sexual interest on his part, but I too have been a target of the 'stealth date,' which is an exceedingly uncomfortable situation to be in. It's this very lack of clear communication that lands people in situations like this, and it's part of the reason that being explicit about when it's a "date," however awkwardly nerdy it may seem, helps prevent mixed message. Think about how this kind of situation comes about - the man thinks his intent must surely be obvious, or worse yet, fears that making his intent obvious will bias the woman against him and result in no opportunity to get closer to her, so knowingly hides it; meanwhile, the woman had no inkling of his intent and did not agree to participate on the same set of terms he has in mind. Think about how easily this can slide into a situation involving unwanted sexual advances, possibly characterizable as assault, and how easily such an interaction can become a he said/she said scenario, where he read all signals in a way favorable to his intent while she considered herself to be just being friendly and polite until he crossed a line she had no idea he was about to cross. It seems to me that men who most fear this sort of interaction unfairly tarring them as a creep should be the most interested in clarifying their own intentions and expectations before pursuing one-on-one interactions with women. Using the word "date" or similar language can help everyone understand they are about to agree to enter a new kind of interaction that is, by default, not platonic.

Doofy as it may seem, there's something very respectable about asking for a "date" because it is asking for a particular kind of use of someone's time, and asking them to put a specific frame around those interactions. It gives the other person the power to decide whether or not this is an opportunity they want to create for you, in the full understanding of what kind of relationship it is that you are exploring. If there wasn't an actual history of people intentionally obscuring that understanding for their own benefit, it would be ridiculous to suggest what jenfullmoon is suggesting; but there is that history. It's not always the case, certainly, and it doesn't mean that there can't be plenty of platonic and friendly interactions with people of the opposite gender. I wish I could say it was true that when women agree to do something alone with a guy they think of as a friend they never ever have to consider the thought that he might have other ideas about what is going to happen, but in my experience this is something that has to run through your mind, at least until you know the person very very well and have established the basis of your friendship.
posted by Miko at 5:52 AM on February 19, 2014 [10 favorites]


And by "respectable" I really meant "respectful."
posted by Miko at 5:59 AM on February 19, 2014


I don't feel that the "nugget of truth" justifies jenfullmoon's comment, which dismisses the very possibility of non-romantic friendship between hetero men and women existing. As someone who has and treasures such friendship, that's nonsense.

At this point in the thread, I think that basic point about making one's intentions clear has been repeatedly established. I myself advocate for the use of the word date (or the functional equivalent thereof) for the some of the same reasons you point out. My snark is not a response to the word date or the importance of being clear about whether one has romantic intentions and should not be read as such. I think being clear about one's intentions and avoiding unwelcome advances is a set of behaviors that makes it easier to have and maintain friendships with women.
posted by Area Man at 6:15 AM on February 19, 2014


I don't feel that the "nugget of truth" justifies jenfullmoon's comment,

Which is why I took pains to note that I agree it is too general, leaving nothing there to really object to.
posted by Miko at 6:43 AM on February 19, 2014


Think about how easily this can slide into a situation involving unwanted sexual advances, possibly characterizable as assault, and how easily such an interaction can become a he said/she said scenario, where he read all signals in a way favorable to his intent while she considered herself to be just being friendly and polite until he crossed a line she had no idea he was about to cross. It seems to me that men who most fear this sort of interaction unfairly tarring them as a creep should be the most interested in clarifying their own intentions and expectations before pursuing one-on-one interactions with women. Using the word "date" or similar language can help everyone understand they are about to agree to enter a new kind of interaction that is, by default, not platonic.

And much much worse when said man creep is married with 3 children and ambushes you in an isolated setting. Said men can't even ask for a date, tbh, because.. hello, wife and children? That's when it gets really sneaky.
posted by infini at 10:47 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I feel like someone who has been asked out for a friendly dinner must feel when it suddenly turns out to be a date. All of a sudden, in the middle of a friendly conversation, jenfullmoon claims that pretty much all men only interact with women in order to get into their pants and then Miko, someone who I have immense respect for and who I don't think has written anything anywhere that I've disagreed with, agrees with that sentiment! Despite the disclaimer that 'it's too general', three whole paragraphs then explain how, yeah, most men are like that, so watch out, ladies!
posted by dg at 12:51 PM on February 19, 2014


I don't think it's that all or even most men are "like that", but that, as a woman, it's a thought that's worth remembering.

Better to think, "wait, is this hangout going to be a stealth date?" before you go, and decide to go or not having taken that into account, than to refuse to consider anything but the rosiest possible view of things.

Better to think, "Well, this guy could be trying to date me, but he's really fun and a good friend, so I'm willing to risk the awkwardness," than to wear blinders and constantly be surprised when this has been a date.

FWIW there's nothing actually wrong with a guy liking you and being afraid to openly ask you out. It's just a thing that can happen, and it's better to make your peace with that early on if you're going to have platonic male friends.

It's more a thought experiment, and less a generalization about what all men or all women are like.

It also might be valuable for guys thinking they are asking a woman out to ask themselves, "What if she doesn't know this is a date?"
posted by Sara C. at 1:16 PM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Despite the disclaimer that 'it's too general', three whole paragraphs then explain how, yeah, most men are like that, so watch out, ladies!

That isn't what Miko said at all, dg. I realize it's a whole three paragraphs, and I realize those paragraphs are long, but I think you have the attention span to read them properly. Please let's not play But Not All Men Are Like That, Why Will You Not Give The Poor Men The Benefit Of The Doubt. If you've paid any attention to what women write here, then you should already know why not.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:19 PM on February 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


Oh dg, don't take offense. This happens precisely because the heterosexual default has been initially the man asks the woman. But also as you have noted, many of us have friendships with members of the opposite sex that we are not presently and have never dated. And they had to start somewhere, right?

But as Miko said there's a nugget of truth to jenfullmoon's observation. It is usually crossed signals. I bet the opposite is true occasionally, too, a man asks a woman to a play or other FUN OUTING, she assumes DATE and he shows up with his girlfriend.
posted by readery at 1:19 PM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's also worth noting that young women are brought up, in a lot of ways, to give men the benefit of the doubt. The first impulse is always not to judge, not to be to aloof, not to think ill of anyone. This can really lead to a lot of problems with boundaries and a difficulty in honoring our own feelings.
posted by Sara C. at 1:28 PM on February 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I bet the opposite is true occasionally, too, a man asks a woman to a play or other FUN OUTING, she assumes DATE and he shows up with his girlfriend.

I've done that. Awkwardness for everybody!

Clarity is good and helps everyone. As a man I saw a lot that I could recognize in what Miko wrote and I'd agree with pretty much all of it. I've been the recipient of a couple of stealth dates and it's no fun; if I've received a couple I can only imagine how common it is for women and how disheartening it can be.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:28 PM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, stealth dates = plausible deniability.
posted by readery at 1:33 PM on February 19, 2014


Unfortunately, when I was the recipient of stealth dates, it was usually with girls I liked but didn't know how to communicate that, and then they thought I wasn't interested because I just treated hanging out like hanging out, not like makeout time.

I mean, again, everything worked out pretty well since I have an awesome partner who I wouldn't trade for the world, but it certainly increased the amount of time I spent angstful and bitter before getting the fuck over it.
posted by klangklangston at 1:37 PM on February 19, 2014


watch out, ladies!

We do. All the damned time, which is what I took to be the gist of jenfullmoon's actual point (overgeneralized for her personally but with an aspect to it that many people recognize) which I think was elaborated on by Miko and Sara C. It's a common enough communication failure mode that it winds up with a bunch of people in this thread nodding their heads "Oh yeah I know what you mean by stealth date...."

In my experience with the stealth date the super shifty thing is that the guy may have a girlfriend or be (not poly-) married and so you go grab a burger with him because Of Course It's Not A Date, let your guard down and then suddenly someone's touching your knee or suggesting going someplace afterwards for drinks or whatever. And not only is it disappointing, it's potentially unsafe and even saying "WHAT THE FUCK, GUY?" can result in some sort of backlash bitch-out like of course you knew, why did you come out for a hamburger, wtf kind of tease are you? Yuck.

In my life these occurrences are mostly from my distant-ish past but they happened enough times that they became a thing on a long list of "Things to be mindful of even if it's not my goddamned job" I have a long armchair-psychology blablabla about what I think is going on there, but it's real and it's not uncommon.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:28 PM on February 19, 2014 [11 favorites]


Despite the disclaimer that 'it's too general', three whole paragraphs then explain how, yeah, most men are like that, so watch out, ladies!

That's not a fair characterization of what I said and it's not what I meant. It's a thing that sometimes happens, but I really did take care to say "nugget of truth" not "ultimate truth, everywhere, all the time" for a good reason, and never said "most," and of course I don't believe all or maybe even most men do this. It's something that can happen. No reason to go to 11; I think what I've said is straightforward.
posted by Miko at 2:54 PM on February 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


OK, it's clear I'm in the wrong here. My view on this is based on my own life experience and observations, from which I've deduced that most men are respectful towards women and most women are respectful towards men. This doesn't seem to be the experience of most women here and I accept that my view of the world doesn't reflect the reality that most women live with. It's kind of a horrifying reality, to be honest, but does somewhat validate my poor opinion of humanity in general, I guess.

I'm sorry Miko - I was not intending to insult you but please be aware that, despite what some claim, I did read what you wrote carefully (several times, in fact) and gave an honest response that was in no way intended to be all 'stop picking on the poor men'.
posted by dg at 3:11 PM on February 19, 2014


dg, I think one misunderstanding that is happening is that, in thinking about this stuff, nobody thinks that most interactions between men and women are going to be bad.

It's that some bad interaction is bound to happen at some point in your life, so it's better to be aware of that and think about it in advance. To be prepared for the eventuality of feeling uncomfortable, or not reciprocating a man's feelings, or having to enforce boundaries. Which is most of what we're talking about here; it would be exceedingly rare to actually be raped or sexually assaulted in a stealth date context.

Also, I mean, let's be real, here. You can either have a context where everything is super casual and nobody ever says "date", or you can have a context where women feel like we're on firm footing when it comes to whether a given social interaction is a date or not. You can't really have it both ways, with getting to not communicate your expectations but also all women feel safe and trusting of all social interactions with men.

If you want the women in your life to feel more open and trusting towards you, go the extra mile and be a little more oblique about your intent, even if it potentially causes you to lose a little bit of social capital.
posted by Sara C. at 3:36 PM on February 19, 2014


If you want the women in your life to feel more open and trusting towards you, go the extra mile and be a little more oblique about your intent, even if it potentially causes you to lose a little bit of social capital.

You meant "less oblique," right?
posted by yoink at 3:48 PM on February 19, 2014


I'm optimistic that most men are fairly respectful towards women, but even if 1% of men aren't that's still like what? 1 out of 100 interactions? And that adds up when you're out and about and interacting with hundreds of people and passerbys a day. It only takes one asshole to ruin a day - or worse, really.

So I mean, maybe you aren't in a position to notice the frequency of these things - because they're not aimed at you, they tend to happen less around you, and your meters aren't calibrated by interaction after interaction of expecting these aggressions - but that doesn't mean that they're not happening. Part of acknowledging the validity of these experiences that you don't have access to is understanding that there may be certain, totally reasonable concessions you should ought to make to accommodate these experiences.

So I don't really know. It feels a little distancing to call the experiences of women dealing with casual everyday sexism and male-female power dynamics "horrifying" or to say that "most" women exist in a world where "most" men aren't respectful towards them. No, women live in the exact same reality that men do; they just don't have the privilege to ignore certain misogynistic elements of the world like men do is all. So I mean, that's not an issue with their perception - that's an issue with our perception and the patterns that we aren't trained to notice as much is all.
posted by Conspire at 3:49 PM on February 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


You meant "less oblique," right?

Either that or "more opaque". Sorry.
posted by Sara C. at 3:55 PM on February 19, 2014


Noblesse oblique.

be aware that, despite what some claim, I did read what you wrote carefully (several times, in fact)

Well, I thought what I said was pretty clear but if you were able to walk away from several reads still thinking that, either I am not being as clear as I thought, or your mind escalated what was there. It's still hard for me to see how that read could come from what I put down.
posted by Miko at 4:30 PM on February 19, 2014


but even if 1% of men aren't that's still like what? 1 out of 100 interactions?

A recent article on programs on campuses to create a culture of bystander intervention in sexual assault cited the stunning statistic that only three percent of men commit about 95 percent of sexual assaults. I doubt anyone is trying to measure it, but I'd bet that "problematic dating boundary behaviors" are similar in having a small minority of outstandingly egregious repeat offenders and a majority of people who are trying to get it right.

So one way to think about this is that every non-predatory guy who is brave enough to communicate clearly and forthrightly in his dating interactions makes it that much harder for the bad apples to operate. It's like how creating a culture of enthusiastic consent around sex makes things safer and happier for everyone. It's hard to put yourself out there and be clear, but it helps build a better world.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:32 PM on February 19, 2014


"Either that or "more opaque". Sorry."

Being opaque about your intentions would mean that other people couldn't see into them. Maybe "more obvious"?
posted by klangklangston at 4:32 PM on February 19, 2014


Also, opaque is an awesome word that just won me a Letterpress game, so woo.
posted by klangklangston at 4:32 PM on February 19, 2014


Yeah, if you have that three percent that's actually assault plus whatever percent of people are just awkward and just aren't really sure how they're supposed to act or how to negotiate a date, you can see how it could be like a 1 in 10 experience at some points or phases in life. Especially because, as Jessamyn kind of noted, I think it's much more common when you're younger - both being unsure how to negotiate, and unsure how to rebuff. And also being in a more actively dating/hooking up environment. I don't really have these dating kinds of problems these days, so it's easy to forget I once did experience stuff like this; one of the luxuries of aging and being in a quiet relationship is a generally more benign feeling about the whole social world.
posted by Miko at 5:27 PM on February 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Being opaque about your intentions would mean that other people couldn't see into them. Maybe "more obvious"?

Me no English today
posted by Sara C. at 5:32 PM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


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