Men Reveal The Major Difference Between A Date And Just "Hanging Out"

One thing's for sure: They can't stand "in-betweeners."

Last updated on Oct 11, 2023

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So … is it a date? Or are you two just hanging out? Grabbing dinner? Talking? Seeing each other? Does dinner between two people who want to get to know each other even have a name anymore?

Turns out, singles know less and less about the type of date they're on (or if it's even a real date) as the dating pool gets bigger and bigger.

According to a 2014 study commissioned by ChristianMingle and JDate, 69 percent of singles admit they're confused about whether an outing with someone they're interested in is a date or not.




With so much language swimming around the action of spending time with someone you like, it's no surprise it's hard to define "date."

And guys are no exception. We asked guys what a date really is, how they know if they're just "hanging out", and what they look forward to when it comes to spending time with someone they're interested in.


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What's a date?

Jake, 26, says he spends a lot of time arguing with himself over what's a date versus what's not a date. He says that, in the past, he's dated girls who are just as confused. "I've come to this conclusion: If I ask you out, or if you ask me out, and it's just the two of us, and we're doing something at a set time (like grabbing dinner or brunch or heading to a movie or a museum), then it's a date. I dread those in-betweeners (like 'drinks' and 'coffee') because they're not really dates to me."

Josh, 28, agrees. "It's a set time and place, and it's just between the two of you. There's no 'let's grab drinks!' and then go our separate ways if it doesn't work out. I feel like it's important to be clear because then everyone knows what to expect. If we're just 'hanging out', then I'm not shaving. If it's a date, then I am." That makes sense, right? Wrong.


Not all guys see dates the same way, which makes it more and more confusing to both parties involved. 

Adam, 30, says, "When I ask a girl out somewhere, she should consider it a date. Likewise, if she asks me out somewhere, I'm considering it a date. Don't care if it's coffee or a stroll in the park or dinner at The Darby. If we make plans to get together, it's a date to me — no matter how big or small."

Though only 22 percent of the singles surveyed feel like "if I'm asked, then it's a date," it seems that guys feel like spending time one-on-one with you is a date.

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What's hanging out?


"God," Anthony 33, says right off the bat, "I hate that term. 'Hanging out.' Let's hang out and grab dinner! Let's see a movie and hang out. You know, I ask my little cousin if he wants to hang out with me — I don't ask a girl that I'm interested in and want to impress if she wants to 'hang out' at a basketball game."

Garrett, 24, shares the same frustration, though he adds that meeting someone who wants to "hang out" gives him a better idea of what he's walking into. "I've met girls that want to 'hang out,' and typically, they're the type that are the non-committables. They want to 'hang' and make out and maybe occasionally have sex, but they don't want the title or the blame when they [expletive] it up. They're just 'hanging out,' remember? It's the most frustrating blurred line ever."

"I'm not into 'hanging out,' " says Jason, 28, "but I feel like it's become a casual type of date. Like 'Hey! Let's not take this too seriously, or too fast, but let's get together and do something fun and not too personal, like go bowling.' That to me is hanging out."

"I dread this kind of text or message from a girl I'm interested in," says Owen, 26. "It's like saying, 'Let's hang out until a better guy comes along that I want to date. 'Cause if we're just hanging out then it's not serious and no one's feelings get hurt.' It's total [expletive]. Just own it, you don't want to seriously date or meet someone. There's nothing wrong with that."


I asked Jake again, to talk about what he thinks is 'hanging out.' He responded with the "in-betweeners", which he said were events that you did before something better happened, like midday coffee or drinks. "You can grab coffee whenever and you nearly always head somewhere else after having drinks. The 'In-betweeners' are prime 'hang out' times."

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So, what makes a great date?

"Dinner is always a staple. It's a full meal, you can have drinks, you're sitting, really getting to know someone, it can be as intimate or as laidback as you like," says Micah, 29.

"Dinner somewhere, dessert somewhere else, and a movie. I think it's well-rounded," Thomas, 25, says.


"I love it when a girl suggests something out-of-the-box that I'd never come up with myself. Something like a wine-and-painting class, where you bring your own wine and paint. There are other people there, so it feels like less pressure, but the alcohol and the painting help you loosen up and get to know each other. I did it once and it was actually a lot of fun — I'd definitely do it again," says Mark, 25.

And what makes a date unbearable?

I asked the same four guys above what they dreaded about a bad date. Nearly all of them said, "coffee and drinks," because the timing is off and it leaves too much pressure on the what-comes-after decision.

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Kylie McConville is a freelance writer, editor-in-chief at Apartment Therapy, and founding editor of Romper. Her bylines have appeared in BDG, Yahoo, Bustle, Elite Daily, Romper, The Bump, and others. Kristine Soloman is a freelance editor and writer. She has appeared in Forbes, Huffington Post, Insider Business, and more.