It's Time We Cut The Crap & Admit That What We're Doing Is Dating

Photographed by Lauren Perlstein
Something happened in the past 20 years or so: The word "date" disappeared. During that time, "Let's hang out," "We should chill," and "You and I should do something soon" came in and took its place. And now, it looks as though those sayings are here to stay. Frankly, I hope I am not the only one really annoyed by this.

It's as if men and women, sometime in the early 2000s, decided that the term "date" was too much commitment, too intimidating, or too controversial. Therefore, the rational decision was to eliminate the entire word altogether from our vocabulary.

The problem is, we didn't ax the idea.

As far as I know, whatever your sexual preference is, people still, from time to time, want to hang out with one other person, go out to eat, or do something active with that person, and hope that it becomes romantic or physical at some point.

We still like the idea of dates, but we don’t like the word.

There's a problem with "Let’s hang out" and other such generalized statements. When people ask someone out this way, the person being asked this question usually never knows what they're being set up for. Most of the time, they are left wondering who is going to pay for the movie tickets, and whether or not they should wear that outfit they look the most attractive in.

This makes for many an awkward moment during the course of the hang out, and gives the impression that the person inviting you to "Netflix and chill" might not even be that interested. You’re just another friend to fill up their weeknight — no matter how much courage it took for them to actually see what you are doing. That’s just what happens when you ask a hot guy or girl out the way that you would invite your friends to get Chipotle with you.

Yes, you can say "Let's hang out" to someone you have already been dating. You can say that to someone you met on Tinder or on a dating website, because hell, it is a dating site; you both know what you are there for! But, for that new person you are interested in? I'm sorry, but you just can’t. Don't do it, unless both of you are so obviously aware of what you are to each other. Chances are, you're both skeptical, anyway.

We can keep the hookups before dating. We can consider binge-watching shows as dates. But how about we take the more traditional route with what we call it, and help out both the painfully oblivious and the pitifully confused?

I say this to both men and women: Why not gather the courage to go up to the person you like and say, "I would like to take you out on a date sometime"? Once you get over the shock that you did just that, a wonderful thing happens. You get a yes or a no. And you know that decision is based on if the person likes you enough to possibly see themselves sticking their tongue down your throat. Which means, in the end, you don’t have to end up paying for a few drinks and dinner, only to have the person across from you say, "Oh, I just never could see you like that."

What we'll end up doing is to eliminate the overanalyzing of conversations with friends, the frantic Google searches to see whether or not the tone in how they asked you to hang matters, and the embarrassment of not knowing whether or not you are on a date.

And if the word "date" seems a little circa 1950, how about: "I really like you and want to hang out, just the two of us, some time. Would you like that?" This is better — much better.

But for now, I will still hold out for the word "date," and help with its comeback.

Originally published at Thought Catalog. For more writing like this, follow Thought Catalog on Facebook, here, or (if images are your vibe) on Instagram, here.

This month, we're sharing steamy personal stories, exploring ways to have even better sex, and wading through the complicated dynamics that follow us into the bedroom. Here's to a very happy February. Check out more, right here.

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