College x
Wait, Is This a Date?: Distinguishing Romance from Rendezvous

Using three of my real misunderstandings as precedents, here’s how you can tell whether or not you’re on a date.


Flirting is sorcery.

As females, society expects us to just wistfully shake our head to the side slightly and have a mane of golden silk fall seductively down across our shoulders. Have you ever tried it though? You’re likely to end up with a mouthful of hair. And winking, seriously, how do you do that without looking like you’re frozen mid-sneeze?

Then there’s the confusion of dating. What is a date anyway?

There are many definitions including: 1) If he tries to kiss you at the end of it 2) When the word “date” is used 3) Anything involving candles and 4) If there’s flirting involved.

Wait is This a Date?

But what if they look like they want to kiss you but don’t, or what if they just really like candles? What if they’re just as bad at flirting as you are, and you can’t tell if that’s even what they’re doing? And if these really are the definitions, then you could wind up on a date with anyone just accidentally!

So I’ve assembled some of the most questionable date stories I could find from friends, family and personal experience, and decided to put the dating game to a test.

Scenario 1

A guy in your class asks if you want to study for the test on Thursday. Seeing as how you should probably crack open that book at least ONCE before the end of the semester, you say yes and offer to meet at the library.

Not wanting to pay for parking on campus, he offers to meet you at the coffee shop down the street instead. When you show up later that night with your notebooks and highlighters, he walks in the door without his backpack, or anything but the clothes on his back for that matter. Claiming to have forgotten his stuff at home, he offers to buy you a coffee to make up for the inconvenience.

Date or genuine forgetfulness?

Who’s the dude? Being the oblivious ditz that I am, I didn’t notice that this guy was in two of my classes until the semester midpoint. After an apology and embarrassing introduction, I decided that he’s cute, but not my type.

How did he ask you? After class he caught up with me in the cold. I looked like a mess with my hair frizzed up by the wind and my mascara mixing with my exhaustion to create the raccoon effect, so I wasn’t particularly worried when he asked if I wanted to study with him.

What happened at the meeting exactly? He showed up, and upon my asking remorselessly said, “Aw, damn. I forget my notes. Can I buy you a coffee instead?”

Date. Definitely date. The sly bastard.

Scenario 2

You set up a meeting with your new advisor. He opens the door for you and you notice the tight quarters and the mood lighting.

Due to the lack of space, you’re forced to sit inches from his chair, with only a lit candle separating you from him. He talks in a low voice, mostly introducing himself and talking about his life rather than discussing your academic career. When the meeting ends, he leans across you to open the door.

Date or intense guy in an unfortunate setting?

Describe the male. Mid-twenties, first year on the job, and mildly attractive.

Did he try anything? No, but she was seriously creeped out and switched advisors.

Not a date. He’s probably just a clueless just-out-of-college kid trying (and failing) to make his office seem homier. We hope so at least. That is NOT the way to pick up chicks.

Scenario 3

Your boyfriend is chosen as a performer for a collegiate symphony. You and his best friend decide to attend the concert.

The friend picks you up in a suit and opens the passenger car door for you. He offers you his arm walking into the building and you take it. After the performance, your boyfriend goes home with his family and you and the friend stop for food on the way back.

He pulls out your chair, offers you his jacket and pays for your meal. Arriving at your house, he walks you to the door, then leaves.

Date or really considerate friend?

What a hoe. Right? You dressed up, when to a concert together and then finished the night with dinner.

It’s pretty hard to deny that it’s not a date, even if it is completely accidental and the intentions were innocent—and it doesn’t seem that they are.

But here’s the story again from a different angle:

Your boyfriend invites you and his best friend to his concert that night. You two decide to carpool to save gas. He picks you up and opens the door as your struggle to adjust your dress. Tripping left and right over your heels, he offers you his arm for fear that you’ll severely injure yourself before reaching the front door of the building.

After the performance, you two congratulate your boyfriend and offer to take him out to dinner. He declines and decides to go out with his family instead. Starving after a performance that literally lasted two lifetimes, you stop at IHOP to grab some pancakes. He pays for you since you paid for gas there.

Upon arriving at home, he walks you to the door and holds your purse as you rummage through the chaos for your house key.

So, is it still a date? Probably not, right?

Which one is the real story and how do we decide whether or not it’s a true rendezvous?

Here it is, the deciding factor: Do you and the friend have history/Do either of you like like each other in ANY way romantically? If so, there’s no contest, it’s a date. You can try to dispute it all you want, but the more you try to explain and justify the guiltier you seem.

But if there isn’t anything going on between you two I think we can cut you some slack. I mean, what were you going to do, NOT go to your boyfriend’s debut?

Flirting is hard, but dating is harder. Good luck out there and remember to dress up daily. You never know when you’ll end up on a date!

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