Ahh, the romantic date…flowers, dinner, a stroll through the park: it’s the stuff dreams are made of, and countless movie scenes as well. Well as it turns out, that may be all it’s good for anymore, with what some are saying is the end of dating.
The End of Dating? How do Couples Get Together, Then?
It’s not that people don’t meet for possible romantic interludes any more…it’s that they often do it way differently than in the past. These days, you’re more likely to just “hang out” than go on an actual date…especially if you’re in your 20s.
Instead of getting asked to go out to dinner or to see a movie for a date, you might get asked (or do the asking, depending on your frame of view) to simply “hang out”. It’s a nebulous term, defying definition, really. But that seems to be the whole point: hanging out is casual, easy and non-binding. That’s exactly the way today’s 20-somethings like it, too.
Still not sure you get it? Here’s a brief run-down on everything you need to know about “hanging out as dating”:
Hanging Out as Dating- How Does it Work?
First of all, be warned that texting plays a significant role in what constitutes dating these days. Many offers for “hanging out” (i.e. “dating”) will come via your phone, and they will be:
None of the things are what you’d expect of a traditional offer for a date, but there it is.
So let’s say for example you met a guy at a party and you exchanged numbers, each hoping for a future rendezvous at some point. Maybe he even mentioned to you that he’d text you on Wednesday night, for instance.
Well Wednesday night may come and it may be 8pm already but your phone is sadly silent…no texts from Mr. Maybe. Then at 8:30 you get what seems like an afterthought on his part: an invitation to meet up at a bar.
Score- a date! However, it’s not unlikely that he won’t be alone once you get there. In fact, if you took an informal poll of what most 20-somethings experience, you’d find that there’s more reason to believe that you’ll be faced with a group as you enter the bar. Your “date” is more of a group chill.
That’s “hanging” and yup, you can call it a date.
Why do Millennials Hang Rather Than Date?
Psychiatrists, sociologists and armchair philosophers blame the parents: a generation that gave us mass divorce for the first time in history has left an imprint on their kids. Today’s 20-somethings may actually be protecting themselves against a rough world, romantically speaking. They know divorce is real, they know sometimes things don’t last forever, and they have the idea that relationships are super risky. They may be exaggerating that last idea, but who can blame them? After all, they’ve witnessed high divorce rates their whole lives. They might just be acting too cautious, however.
Another reason for the “hang” culture may be that Millennials are likely to get married, have kids, and buy a home at a much older age than previous generations. That means they feel that they have lots of time to casually date before they feel pressure to get married…hence the casual nature of dating for this generation.
What if You Really Are Just Hanging Out?
So of course people still hang out casually in groups or in pairs and everything’s platonic. What can look like a group chill could actually be several dates or one date or none at all. This even leads to confusion for even the people within the group.
Maybe a guy asked you to hang with a group of friends- how’s one to know whether it’s a date or not? Or what if you think you’re hanging out but that guy thinks it’s a date? The waters are very murky here, and you simply have to trust your instincts.
Still Confused? Don’t Worry: So is Everyone Else!
If you feel confused, or have felt confused by the blurred lines between chilling and dating, then you’re not alone.
In a recent USA Today survey, some very interesting insights were collected on today’s dating scene. The survey asked 2,647 single people about the definitions of a date and the results are pretty surprising.
A surprisingly high 24% of those surveyed thought that a date was nothing more than planned evening with a group of friends. One-on-one was not required for a get-together to be considered a date. That number is sure to be rising, too.
The survey found that more than two-thirds were confused when it came to telling when they were on a date or simply hanging out. The survey covered ages 18 to 59 and of course age made a difference on how people responded.
But overall, that’s a pretty high statistic (it was actually 69% of those surveyed, even worse) for confusion over something that should be a lot simpler.
Even When Asked Out, Some are Still Confused
Even being asked out directly causes confusion, according to the survey. Only 22% believed that being asked out made it a real date. That means an overwhelming majority of singles out there expressing interest in someone by asking them out are simply not getting the right message across.
Perhaps body language, facial cues, and the way you ask someone are all social cues that are missing…because of texting.
As texting becomes the number one way of communicating, the nuances of face-to-face or even just voice-to-voice interaction are completely wiped out of the scenario that leads up to a “date”.
So it’s no wonder everyone’s confused. However, like it or not, the ill-defined “hanging out” is the new mode of dating and all you singles out there had better take note. Learn the art of hanging out, don’t wait for a phone call asking you for a date, don’t expect an invitation to give you much notice for hanging out, and be ready to see our “date” in a group.