Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

Trying to Determine When a Date is a Date

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2012 Jun 27


Posted by Jim_Daly Jun 26, 2012

It’s not a trick question.

When it comes to two single people of the opposite sex sharing a meal or a movie together, when does it become a “date” – as opposed to just two people of the opposite sex sharing a meal or a movie together?

A group of my colleagues and I were talking about this the other day. The consensus seemed to be centered on the matter of money.

If the guy pays, it’s probably a date. If the couple goes Dutch, it’s probably not.

What if the woman picks up the tab?  That’s a subject for another day.

Still, there seems to be a measure of confusion on the subject. Because there’s a trend toward “hanging out” as opposed to formal dating these days, the lines have become somewhat more blurred. I know of many situations where a man and woman have gone out together (even multiple times), the guy picks up the tab and yet the woman won’t consider it a “date.”

She insists they’re “just friends.”

Is it a matter of poor communication or a circumstance where one – or both – of the involved parties are trying to keep their options open? 

Or is the recipient simply enjoying the benefits of free meals and fun company?

One of my colleagues, who is single, suggests that whether or not it’s a “date” is determined by the state of the relationship. In other words, if the two people have known each other for an extended period of time, just going out – regardless of who pays – does not make it a “date.”  However, if it’s a new relationship and one invites the other – and the person who invites is the person who pays – according to Sue, it’s a date.

This makes good sense to me, but I’m left with two main thoughts:

First, although I enjoyed my dating days, I’m so thankful to be married to the love of my life, Jean.

Second, I think I might agree with one of my male colleagues who said for him it was always easy to figure out what constituted a date: If he was attracted to the woman and she accepted his invitation, it was a “date.”

Dr. Henry Cloud, a recent guest on the radio program, has written extensively about the importance of dating well. I commend his words to you. ”Dating is about finding out who you are and who others are,” he wrote in his book, How to Get a Date Worth Keeping. “If you show up in a masquerade outfit, neither is going to happen.”

Let me ask you:

How do you define a date?

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