Is It a Date or Just Hanging Out? 22 Subtle Signs to Read Their Mind

You meet someone you like and you spend time together. But is it a date or just hanging out? Here’s how to work out a confusing situation for sure. 

date or just hanging out

If you’re confused about whether it’s a date or just hanging out, you’re no doubt scratching your head and overthinking everything.

Firstly, let’s get this straight. It doesn’t matter whether a guy or a girl says “it’s a date” or “let’s hang out” over the phone while asking you to spend time together. What you need to realize is that it’s the way either of you behaves during the time you spend together that matters.

Almost always, it’s pretty easy to know if the together time is heading towards love, or being shoved to the friend zone.

The only time it can get rather confusing is when you have a huge crush on the person who asks you out or asks you to hang out, and your mind’s all muddled with love, and every single act or behavior of your ‘friend’ seems convincingly like date-like behavior. [Read: How to avoid the friend zone and make your friend desire you]

The challenges and confusion of dating

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.

Sometimes, hanging out is a better option than going straight into the date. It means less pressure and a better chance to get to know one another. [Read: How to ask someone to hang out over text the right way and be successful]

Disguising a date as hanging out

If a guy gives you flowers, it’s pretty obvious he has a date in mind.

On the other hand, if he says he just wants to hang out as friends, he could still have feelings for you.

So trying to decode the words a guy or a girl uses to ask you out isn’t really going to be very helpful. [Read: 23 signs to decode a guy’s body language and know if he likes you]

And to make things worse, most guys and girls don’t ask their date out on a date *if they really like the person*. To most people who have a crush on someone, the thought of confessing their love is really painful and worrisome, especially if they have a huge crush on them and they don’t want to blow their chances.

It’s always easier to just play it safe, use the excuse of hanging out, and impress the person very, very slowly.

And for anyone who’s on the other side of the table, this can be a huge dilemma. So is it a date or are you just hanging out? Does this person like you or are they just very friendly and warm? [Read: 15 very, very obvious signs of flirting between a guy and a girl]

The perfect excuse – Let’s hang out!

Using the excuse of hanging out takes the pressure off of dating. If it’s a date from the get-go, there’s always the tension of impressing each other, and then there’s the stress of having to worry about the good night kiss, the next potential date, and a load of other agitating thoughts.

Instead, to many, it’s just so much easier to play it cool, assess the way the evening goes, and think about the dating potential of a person over time. [Read: How to ask a girl to hang out without making it a big deal]

And frankly, the logic behind this is rather evident, even if it can leave the other person confused most of the time! [Read: How to ask a guy to hang out even if you’re shy and don’t know what to say]

Is it a date or are you two just hanging out?

When is a date not a date? And when is hanging out more than just hanging out?

If you’re wondering about the possibilities before getting to the date, here’s a good way to start off. Is the catching up planned in advance? Did this friend of yours call you a week ahead and ask you if you’re free at a particular time on a particular day? Or did this person call you out of the blue and ask you to catch up later in the day?

If the friendly date was planned way before schedule, it’s probably a date on their mind. And on the other hand, if it was a last minute decision to catch up because both of you have nothing better to do, it’s probably just hanging out.

But keep this in mind, some guys and girls may want to play it cool because they don’t want to make their crush on you or their intentions obvious, and they may use a last minute excuse to spend time with you. [Read: The right way to talk to a crush and make them fall for you]

Dating versus hanging out – Let’s work it 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 MUST do ASAP]

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 and mutual friends 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 go on dates 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 zone or interested? 15 subtle clues to decode your crush’s mind]

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? 17 cute signs you’re more than just friends or a hookup]

But one size never fits all …

It’s very easy to say “if this happens, it’s a date,” “if that happens, you’re hanging out,” but since when has dating ever been that cut and dried?

We’ve given you some suggestions on how to know whether it’s a date or hanging out, but we need to delve a little deeper so you can work out those ‘not so simple to decipher’ situations.

If you’re hanging out with this person, and you’re confused about what they’re thinking, use these signs to read their mind without really asking them any questions about their intentions. [Read: How to ask someone if they like you without embarrassing yourself]

1. Nervousness

Is your friend nervous? *more nervous, fidgety, and awkward than usual* If your friend likes you, there’s a good chance that they’re subtly trying to impress you without making it obvious.

2. Good time?

Your friend asks you if you’re having a nice time during the date. They don’t say things like “this place sucks” or “man, I’m so bored.” Instead, they specifically ask for your opinion.

And if you mention that the food isn’t good or the place isn’t nice, your friend may even say something like “I’m going to make sure I don’t bring you here again…” They may actually behave like it’s their fault you hate the place! [Read: The dating girl code all girls definitely need to know]

3. Dressed up and cleaned up

Is your friend all spruced up and looking like a shiny penny, when you clearly know what they’re wearing while hanging out isn’t regular hanging out attire? Well, perhaps, they’ve got a date on their mind.

4. Questions and answers

Hanging out together would suddenly start to feel like an interview or a round of 20 questions. If your friend likes you, they’d want to know everything about you. [Read: 36 naughty and funny questions for flirty guys and girls]

5. Of exes and flings

Does your friend talk about their exes or current crushes, even if you didn’t give them any reason to bring the topic up? Talking about other love interests is a pretty good sign that your friend just wants to hang out with you.

On the other hand, if you want to stay within the friend zone, just talk about your current squeeze or someone you have a crush on. Your friend will definitely get the hint. [Read: How to friend zone someone without leading them on or hurting them]

6. It’s a fancy date restaurant

You’re not a foodie, and neither is your friend, but yet, both of you are in a place that seems extravagant.

If the place seems too posh to feel like a comfortable hangout, perhaps your friend is trying to worm their way into your heart through good wine and food.

7. Touchy friends

Does your friend try to touch you often even when there’s absolutely no reason or requirement for the touch?

If a friend likes you, whether they’re trying to be discreet or otherwise, they’d have a hard time holding themselves back from trying to get their hands on you. [Read: The art of touchy flirting without being obvious]

8. Compliments

Friends compliment each other, yes. But they don’t shower you with compliments about your personality or your appearance, then follow it up with an awkward pause, and a sappy stare.

And let’s not even get to flirting, because that’s just a straight sign that your friend is just hitting on you instead of hanging out with you.

9. The conversation

The conversation revolves around just the two of you. Both of you aren’t talking about other friends, funny events at work, or anything else.

Unknowingly, the conversation just revolves around the both of you trying to get to know each other, intimate details and all. [Read: Sure signs both of you are already more than just friends]

10. Apologies

Your friend apologizes for the silliest of things. “Sorry… I HAD to answer that call,” “I’m sorry you didn’t like the place,” “I’m sorry I wasn’t much fun…” Perhaps, your friend is just courteous, but bigger chances are, they’re just trying to win your heart.

11. Paying the bill

Are both of you going dutch and splitting the bill, or is one person paying for it?

This isn’t a particularly effective way to predict the date-o-meter, but if the guy insists or even puts up a fight that he wants to get the bill, maybe, just maybe, he’s trying to impress you. [Read: 13 signs of lusty sexual attraction between friends]

12. Thank you!

Friends don’t thank another friend for having a good time while hanging out! They just laugh, wave goodbye, and walk away.

And even if there is some thanking involved at the end of the hanging-out/date, there’s a clear difference between “I had an awesome time, we should do this again!” and “Thank you for a wonderful time. I’d love to see you again…”.

So what should you do now?

Now you’ve got plenty of information on whether it’s a date or just hanging out. Maybe you’re still a little unclear but looking at these signs in the coming days and weeks will help you to get a firm answer. Then, what should you do?

Well, what do you want? If it’s a date, do you feel the same? And if it’s just hanging out, are you happy about that or disappointed? By working out your feelings you’ll be able to decide on the next step. 

[Read: 25 signs your friend is clearly falling for you even if they’re hiding it]

As confusing as figuring out if it is a date or just hanging out may seem, it’s actually pretty simple if you use these tips and learn to read between the lines. And once you know what’s on their mind, you just need to ask yourself what you want!

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Cheryl James
A lover of bad ideas and a true romantic at heart, Cheryl James hates excuses and loves integrity. She believes that one day can change everything and wakes up ...