Once upon a time, not so long ago, a woman knew when she was being asked out on a date. A date meant that someone had asked you to accompany them on an excursion or to an event (dinner, a trip to the cinema, a stroll around a gallery, something), with the clear understanding that their motives for wanting to spend time with you were romantic – or at the very least sexual. After said event, you would decide whether you wanted to see the person again, and so on, and so on.
Nowadays, however, things aren’t so clear-cut. This is partly because – at least as far as straight relationships are concerned – men and women are much more likely to form platonic relationships today than in years gone by, making it harder to tell whether someone wants to hang out as friends or as something more.
But it’s also because, as cultural attitudes towards courtship have (blessedly) relaxed, our willingness to admit whether we actually like someone has crumbled. When it comes to love, people are increasingly reluctant to state their intentions – leading to a steady rise in uber-casual, low-commitment maybe-dates.
These pseudo-dates can come in all kinds of guises:
- The person invites you to a gig. When you arrive you discover that four of their mates are in the audience as well
- The person texts you saying that they’re in your neighbourhood on a sunny Saturday afternoon. You meet them at a local pub, hang out for a couple of hours, then go your separate ways
- The person suggests grabbing a bite to eat after work one evening, then spends the entire night regaling you with stories about their wild single life
- The person comes over to your place. You watch an episode of something on Netflix, have sex, and then they leave.
With confusion about what actually constitutes a date running rampant, it’s no surprise that people have been taking to Twitter this week to highlight that nobody knows what the hell is going on.
Are these lizards just hanging out, or on a date?
Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet: freezing to death on a floating door, or on a date?
Drake and conceptual performance artist Marina Abramovic: staring at each other in a Photoshopped meme, or on a date?
This seemingly happy couple: getting married, on a date, or just spending time together on a casual, no-strings-attached basis?
If someone shares their takeaway with you under a toilet stall, does that make it a date?
What if you’re a teenager in a stock image and they help you fix your malfunctioning laptop?
What if your a hamster, asleep with another hamster on your hamster wheel?
And finally, the inevitable:
Answers on a postcard, please.
Images: Rex Features