Dating is hard. There are many subcategories you could fall under. Dating versus hanging out being the most common dilemma of all time. You might wonder, if you go get coffee, or just catch up briefly for brunch, is it a date? If you spend time together, but other people are there, does it count?
The common misconception is that if you’re not on a date, then there’s no chemistry. In reality, hanging out could mean there’s a connection, but there’s some sort of obstacle in the way. For instance, busy schedules, financial trouble, shyness, or even the need to take things slow.
Dating versus hanging out
So, what’s your situation? Find out below.
#1 If all your time is spent with others present most of the time, you’re just hanging out. Think of the other people as buffers. Chances are, these are friends, mutual or not. They’re there in case something goes south. This means you’re invited to the circle, but you’re not special enough to get a VIP tour yet.
Don’t fret, if you like this person, this isn’t the end of the world. It could mean they’re uncomfortable being alone with you, because they’re shy or afraid of moving too fast after a breakup. Of course, it could also mean you’re just a new friend, with some possible potential. [Read: Does your crush like you back? 15 things you have to do next]
#2 You’re seeing each other if you’re going to fancy or fun places, rather than more mundane things. Places like fancy restaurants, creative outings, and the movies are dead giveaways—they’re clearly dates. If you’re doing more mundane things, like meeting for coffee or watching TV, then you’re on the fence.
It depends how you watch TV. For instance, if you’re both in sweats and flipping channels, you’re hanging out. But if one of you cooked, you both dressed up, and you’ve rented a movie or selected a show you’re both fans of to watch together, then it’s a date.
#3 You’re hanging out if every time one of you makes a move, the other person gets uncomfortable. This is pretty logical. If you make someone uncomfortable with physical advances, the direction this is going isn’t the one you’re thinking of. Clearly, one of you is more interested than the other, or simply feels like they must make advances, because of the confusing situation. [Read: Subtle cues a girl gives away if she wants a guy to make a move]
#4 Those “getting to know you” conversations mean you’re seeing each other. Hanging out leads to some deep, philosophical conversations, or personal topics, but mainly, things stay light and playful.
On a date, things stay light for a bit. After a few dates, you dive into each other’s personal lives, beliefs, morals, opinions, family stories, etc. These conversations are meant to see if you’re both compatible enough to date, and to see if the chemistry is more than just skin-deep. [Read: 20 questions to ask on a first date for the best conversation]
#5 If you don’t feel rushed, and things even seem a bit slow, then you may just be hanging out. If you’re seeing each other, and it’s going so slow you’re getting uncomfortable, hence why you’re reading this feature. Going tortoise slow is not unheard of, and many great, long-lasting couples take it iceberg slow in the beginning.
However, more often than not, people who see each other take it at a steady pace, not too slow, not too fast. Then, they either stop seeing each other or date. If you’ve been talking to someone for a few months, maybe three or more, and nothing substantial indicates an interest, then you’re taking it slow, and you may just be hanging out. Of course, there are exceptions to this, don’t lose heart!
#6 You’re seeing each other if other people begin to treat you both differently when present. When other people begin to treat you two differently, then it means someone is talking. Whether it’s you, the person you’re seeing, or both of you, because now the news spread.
Friends may be inviting both of you to events and just telling one of you. Maybe people let you two get your alone time during parties or get togethers. Maybe people ask you about how the other person is doing and vice versa. [Read: 19 sure signs you’re in an exclusive relationship already]
#7 If you’re just hanging out, things may get awkward if one of you tries to initiate sex. “May” is the keyword here. Just because you’re hanging out doesn’t mean there isn’t chemistry. Things could go well if one of you initiates something, despite the fact that you’re not going out on dates. Does this mean you will afterward? That totally depends on your own, personal situation.
Now, if things get awkward, like if you, or the person you’re hanging out with, gets offended, then you know signs were misread. This could be the end of all your hanging out, or simply lead to a serious, clear talk about each other’s intentions. [Read: Friend zoned? Don’t turn your crush into a villain]
#8 You’re seeing each other if the other person is doing nice things for you and trying to win you over. If they buy you things, wait for you when you get off work, pick you up, or surprise you with small things *wine, flowers, or one of your favorite movies*, then you know they’re on their best behavior. And they’re trying to make a good impression for a reason.
The best indication is when they listen to what your favorite items are, and they select those to surprise you with later.
#9 If they don’t bring up family, you’re hanging out. It’s a fact of life, people bring up families if they’re interested. Regardless of where your family is or how close you are with them, someone who takes you on a date or two is going to bring them up at some point.
If you’re not having the conversation about your parents or siblings, then you’re just hanging out. They may or may not ask you about your family eventually, as friends, or more, if you end up seeing each other. [Read: 17 sordid signs you’re just a hookup and nothing more]
#10 Talk of exes indicates you’re seeing each other. It’s never a very good idea to bring up exes. However, no one starts seeing someone without knowing their past, especially their previous relationships.
When you’re seeing each other, this conversation is bound to come up sometime in the first two months, before things get very serious, but after the initial jitters go away.
[Read: Are we dating? Read these 17 signs and then ask no more!]
If after reading this, you uncover an answer not to your liking, don’t worry too much. Every situation is different. While some love stories start up steady, others take a while to brew.
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