Is this a date or just a hangout?
February 11, 2014 10:16 PM   Subscribe

Alright everyone, this is a hard one. Does she like me? Is this a date, or are just hanging out?

We are both in college. We are both the "reserved" type. That is, we don't go to parties often, don't get drunk often, and work hard in our classes.

I'm a year older and have been friends with her two older brothers. I was the tutor for an organic class last semester, and she happened to be taking the class and needed help, so she came to my review sessions. After a few times, I gave her my number in case she needed more help. We've gotten to know each other better since then.

Fast forward to this semester, she's still taking organic, but I am no longer the class tutor. She still needs help, so we are having one on one tutoring. I took her to a coffee shop and helped her do practice problems, etc. On our way back, she said she really liked the place and would love to go there more often.

So last week I asked her to take a break from studying and if she wanted to go rockwall climbing. I was thinking of last saturday (and then follow up with a date on valentines), but she had other plans already and said maybe this saturday or the next. She seems excited about it, and I hope she's not pushing it back because she doesn't want to go or because she wants to go after valentine's day to not give me the wrong idea. I was slightly upset afterwards when she told me that, but then I thought, well it's pretty cheesy to ask someone out on a date on valentines anyway, and that she does have a valid reason to not go.

I tease her all the time, and she blush and smile very often. I know on paper this sounds like she likes me, but I am so terrible at interpreting signs and would like some feedback from you guys. Anyway, when we have conversations, sometimes we would slow down a bit and hold our gaze for a few seconds, and then we would both smile and continue the conversation. I feel like that's a huge sign, but I look at other girls with boyfriend in the eyes and smile when I talk to them too. I just don't hold gaze with them very long. I feel like she might just be being nice to me, and I'm terrible at differentiating girls from being nice and having interests.

So my two questions are whether she likes me or not, and do you think the rock climbing would be a date or just a hangout if it were to happen? Do you think that she thinks this is a date? I feel like it would definitely be a date if the place is somewhere off campus, but the place is in our university gym, and we can both walk there. So that makes things more blurry.

Just as a sidenote, I've been thinking about her nonstop this past week and have been really eager to see her. I look for her at the cafe and around the chemistry building all the time. I am very idealistic, and when I think about her, my feelings for her are almost beyond the physical. She's pretty, but I also think about her beautiful personality and how I could share my thoughts and feelings with her. Sometimes I feel like this is my flaw and that I always get disappointed. Let's hope that's not the case this time.
posted by Thisispiggy to Human Relations (27 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Why can't you just ask her if it's a date or not? That's pretty much the bog-standard advice for these situations. Communicate.
posted by Conspire at 10:22 PM on February 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Ok so how would I ask to make it not too much pressure? A casual "so is this a date?"

I have no idea how dating works...

Edit: also, when should I ask that? A couple days before the event or during the event?
posted by Thisispiggy at 10:26 PM on February 11, 2014

When you ask her out, don't ask if she wants to take a break from studying; ask her if she'd like to go on a date. Use those words. "Would you like to go on a date with me?" Then she answers and then you know. (I know, that's hard and scary but trust me, it's better that way. Good luck!)
posted by Weeping_angel at 10:27 PM on February 11, 2014 [22 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh god Weeping_angel, my hands are getting sweaty just thinking about it.
posted by Thisispiggy at 10:28 PM on February 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I think you've got this problem by the wrong end. You clearly wanted the climbing to be a date but you didn't say so. You need to ask her out on a date, specifying that it's a date, to know whether she wants to go on a date with you.

"I'd like to see you socially. Would you like to go out on a dinner date with me next Wednesday at 6?" If she says yes, you're off to the races. If she says no, it means she doesn't feel that way about you. If she says "Wednesday doesn't work for me," you can suggest another time, and if she doesn't respond positively, it means she doesn't feel that way about you but is trying to be really kind about it.

It's terrifying but it is more likely to work than asking the Internet to try to interpret her behavior from text alone.
posted by gingerest at 10:30 PM on February 11, 2014 [22 favorites]

Sweaty hands are good! That's how you know it's worth asking!

The first time you say something like that to someone, it's hard. The fifth time it's not so hard. The tenth time it's much easier. These are the gold standard conversations necessary for building decent relationships.
posted by incessant at 10:31 PM on February 11, 2014 [9 favorites]

You just have to ask her. There's no other way. "Doris, I really like you. I'm sorry I didn't say this before, but I would like to take you on a date. What do you think?"

It's good to take risks in life.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 10:32 PM on February 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Oh, wait, I forgot this is 2014 because I am old (and have been married forever, which is how I know you won't die from the terror of asking a girl out). You could just send her a text asking the same thing.
posted by gingerest at 10:33 PM on February 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

The only thing i have to add to this is that i understand why you're confused, and why you're anxious about asking. No one seems to call a date a freaking date anymore, it's just "hanging out" and then you have to figure it out once you get there.

Is this tiresome? Yes. Have i gotten the feeling that i could blow it by actually asking what it was? yes.

I think it's quite possible that she hasn't decided yet and is just kinda playing it by ear.

Maybe i'm part of the problem, but i always just wait and see what happens when i get there, and whether the person wants to hang out and do another obviously date-like activity again.
posted by emptythought at 10:34 PM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Don't go overboard trying to game out what to say (and don't send a text - this is an in person or phone call kind of thing). Just keep it simple. "Hey. Wanna go out on Saturday? A movie? Rock climbing? Dinner?" It doesn't matter what you ask her to do. It just matters that you ask her to do it, and that you phrase it as a date. "Want to go out" or "Want to go out on a date" will both serve this purpose.
posted by incessant at 10:36 PM on February 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I think you guys are right. It is terrifying, but I should make it clear that it's a date, so I can move on if it doesn't work out.

I'll get some sleep tonight and see how it goes.

EDIT: Okay the thing is, I already asked her about rock climbing, so I can't ask her if she wants to go out on a date again. The only thing I can do now is to clarify that rock climbing is a date.
posted by Thisispiggy at 10:36 PM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

"Hey, would you like to go on a date with me to $thing?"

There's your template, now go use it!
posted by oceanjesse at 10:46 PM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

No need to clarify now? Just have fun rock climbing. Then ask her out on a date.
posted by unknowncommand at 10:48 PM on February 11, 2014 [24 favorites]

I mean, if she wants to go out with you, she's not going to be mad if you somehow didn't think rock climbing was a date and are *only now* asking her out, after the rock climbing. She will just be happy that you are asking her out.
posted by unknowncommand at 10:53 PM on February 11, 2014

Mod note: Moderator note — OP, Ask Metafilter isn't really designed to be a two-way street: please don't post follow-up comments on your own questions unless you have some significant clarification or update. Also, the edit function is for typos and so on, not for adding new content to your comments. No big deal, but I thought I'd point this out. We're always here if you have any questions.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 11:06 PM on February 11, 2014

Best answer: Re gingerest's advice, I actually think it's perfectly fine to suggest rock climbing as a date. You just have to say the word date, really.

I find that "activity" dates go a lot better than "stare at each other across a table" dates, at first.

Seconding that you can definitely ask her out on a real specific date another time, after the rock climbing.

One thing I would NOT do is suddenly start acting all romantic and stuff on the rock climbing outing, unless it's really obvious that she also considers it a date. It can be uncomfortable when you thought you were hanging out as friends and then suddenly you realize the guy considers it a date.

I definitely wouldn't make any kind of romantic or sexual move without asking her out on a specific date.
posted by Sara C. at 11:15 PM on February 11, 2014 [10 favorites]

Best answer: Just wanted to add: you seem to be doing what I used to do ALL the time. You wrote:

I was thinking of last saturday (and then follow up with a date on valentines)

but then you got super disappointed when she had other plans and couldn't go. I used to try to plan out all of that stuff in my head, and how I'd ask, and what he'd* say, and how I'd respond, and how I was totally free the next weekend so we could hang out again and.... And, as it turns out, he is a real person with his own thoughts and his own words and he doesn't say what the script in my head says. And he has a whole life with plans that I didn't take into account when I was planning my life. Maybe he can't do what I thought we were going to do. Maybe he's got plans; maybe he has to go and volunteer feeding blind kittens. But since I had built it up so much in my head, I was inevitably disappointed when it didn't all work out like it was "supposed to".

What I'm trying to say is, even though we're helping you out and giving you a "script" to say, don't plan it all out too much. You can't know what she's going to do or say, so you can't plan for that and trying to will either drive you crazy or make you seem awkward when you're talking to her. Probably both. And don't try to plan things too far in advance. Who knows, you might not even want a second date after the first one!

*In my case, I'm a lady asking out a man, but it's 2014, dammit; we apparently have to do that now, and it was really hard for me to learn and really scary the first several (all of the) times. So I understand what you're going through.
posted by Weeping_angel at 12:54 AM on February 12, 2014 [6 favorites]

Go rock climbing as previously planned - don't try to convert a plan into a date after it's been set. See how it goes. If you enjoyed rock climbing and you think she did too, ask if she'd like to go again plus dinner as a date. If yes, then proceed as date. If no or hesitant, gracefully return to starting level of friendship.

Don't tie anything to Valentine's Day unless she's said in big block letters that she wants that. She may dig you but the big V puts too much pressure on timing.
posted by SakuraK at 1:11 AM on February 12, 2014 [6 favorites]

So my two questions are whether she likes me or not, and do you think the rock climbing would be a date or just a hangout if it were to happen? Do you think that she thinks this is a date?

Everything everybody writes is speculation based on the bits of data you gave and the bits of data that you didn't give.

The only person who can answer your question is the girl. Go ask her.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:29 AM on February 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

How previous dudes have clarified the date/friend line before:

-Asked me out using the word date (duh)
-Kissed me on the cheek
-Flirted with me pretty obviously (can be done in a jokey way but she'll still get the idea-you see her as a woman)
-Touched me a lot
-Offered to pay for things, and not in the polite-but-don't-really-want-to way. Like, clearly really actually wanted to pay for things.
-Done chivalrous things friends don't normally do- jumped to open the door, walked me to my car.
-Seemed excessively concerned about me for a friend. Am I hungry and did I eat? Am I okay? Am I safe? How is my life? Etc.
-Complimented my appearance (best to go with "you look nice" or "your hair is pretty" or something- complimenting clothes/style can come across as kinda non-romantic and complimenting anything other than eyes/smile/hair is skeezy)
posted by quincunx at 3:45 AM on February 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

What unknowncommand said! Go rock climbing, have fun. On the way back to your cars, say, "That was really fun! Would you like to go on a date next [Day of the Week] to [do this specific thing]?"

If she looks at you funny when she says yes, it's because she did indeed think rock climbing was a date and you two will have a funny story for down the road.

If she says no, then you can probably safely figure she didn't think rock climbing was a date and structure your future time with her as platonic in your head.
posted by mibo at 3:54 AM on February 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I tease her all the time

Go easy on this. A little playful teasing can be OK once in a while, but it can come across as demeaning, and it only blurs the romance/friendship line further.

I agree with everyone else who suggests that you go rock climbing and treat it as a platonic friend outing. Perhaps you could try to make sure you have some physical contact -- a hand on her arm, a pat on the back, maybe your knees touching if you are sitting next to each other, but no outright romantic gestures -- handholding, kissing, etc. I would not ask her for a date while you are rock climbing, though. Have fun, part ways, and then call (not text) her the next day and say that you had such a fun time with her that you'd like to take her on a date some time, if she is interested. It makes it clear that your rock climbing outing was not just a pretext, but a platonic activity you enjoyed together, which demonstrates your respect for her as a person.

Good luck! So exciting!
posted by Rock Steady at 5:22 AM on February 12, 2014 [8 favorites]

Rock climbing is a perfect activity for lots of high fives, maybe even a "you did awesome!" hug if it feels natural. If both of you are having fun, ask her if she would like to go on a date next weekend as you are saying bye. If she says yes, awesome! Think of an activity or two and ask her if she would like to do that next time you talk to her. If she says no, respond with "alright, no problem. I had a great time climbing with you, see you around!" and then go back to your regular level of contact before you started thinking about her constantly.
posted by at 11:11 AM on February 12, 2014

I think that quincunx offers good advice, but be aware that alll of those except deliberately using the word 'DATE' can very easily be not super clear. I had male friends who would always walk me to my car, complimented my appearance, planned solo hangouts with me, etc. and there was never anything there aside from friendship. Other times there WAS romantic intentions but I never understood it as such. I was hella confused during some of that, but there you go.

So be direct, be clear, make it impossible to misunderstand. People can be really stunned and oblivious and unsure. Save both of you the trouble and just lay it all out, clear as day. Yes, it removes your ability to be all "Ha, takes backsies! just kidding!" face saving stuff if she turns you down, but it is a small price to pay. Seriously.

"I really enjoyed rock climbing with you tonight, and I would love to spend more time with you. Would you like to go out on a date with me? I know of a great restaurant that serves the most incredible baklava!"

Oh, and please don't do the teasing thing to excess. It gets old, and it can be a HUGE turn off. Teasing also can signal to some people "brotherly teasing" not "romantic teasing" which isn't helping your cause.

YMMV but consider yourself warned. Teasing isn't always good.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 12:15 PM on February 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

As a girl your age, I'm butting in with my two cents!

1) Don't send a text. Getting asked out in person is so much more exhilarating (and shows that the guy has a little gumption).

2) Everything about your description makes it sound like your overtures will be happily received. Go for it!
posted by la_rousse at 3:59 PM on February 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am somewhat pleased to learn that The Youth Today don't text to ask each other out. I feel less out-of-touch even though the fact I thought they might shows I'm actually even more out-of-touch than I feared.

If you think about it, the potential for rejection and humiliation is actually higher if you try to protect yourself from it by being ambiguous or even just by leaving it to her to say whether you're having a date or not. The short-term terror of just asking her out (to do whatever, but with the word "date") pays off in the long term not only because you might actually have a romance with her, but because even if she rejects you, you've gotten it over with, instead of having it lurking where it could spring at you at any moment.

You can do it.
posted by gingerest at 4:57 PM on February 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

For future reference, don't try to start off dating on Valentine's Day. Just don't. Very bad. Valentine's Day is for when you are already a couple, preferably already a couple for several months.

25-year-old Jacen goes back in time and punches 21-year-old Jacen in the face repeatedly.
posted by Jacen Solo at 9:27 AM on February 13, 2014

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