Is It A Date Or Are You Just Hanging Out? 17 Helpful Tips To Know

Single and Dating | | , Expert Blogger
Updated On: March 6, 2024
is it a date

So, you’ve been seeing this person for a while and you’re having fun with them. But you’re still wondering if it’s actually a date that you two are on or if you’re both simply hanging out casually. You’ve gotten closer and closer in these early stages but now it seems like the relationship is about to get complicated.

There is a confusion in the air. Clearly, it’s time for some helpful tips on how to tell if it’s a date or just hanging out as friends. Before heading to these signs, it is imperative to know if hanging out and dating is the same thing. So, what is a date, and how is it different from hanging out? A user on Quora answered like this:

“Intent and prior planning. A date is pre-planned, at least to some degree, and the intent is romantic. Hanging out is less structured, may be impromptu, and is not necessarily intended to be romantic. If I ask a girl if she wants to hang out, all I’m saying for sure is I enjoy her company … Now, you can hang out with a girl with whom you are romantically interested, but that isn’t the same as a date. If I ask a girl on a date, say to a movie and dinner, I’m making a clear declaration of romantic intent … I recently saw a movie with a friend who is both married and poly. I wanted to see the movie and thought she’d like it, but I clarified that it wasn’t a date; I just wanted to see the movie with her.”

In this article, we’ll help you find out what a date means in relationship. We’ll also give you some tips on differentiating between a date and merely hanging out. So, let’s begin…

13 Helpful Tips To Tell Is it A Date? Or Just Hanging Out

Dating is hard enough these days, especially when hoping your date isn’t just a friend. Whether you’ve met them on dating websites, encountered them at a party or got set up with them through a friend — You’re going to want to read ahead to actually understand what your dynamic with this person is.

So, what defines a date, really? Are you sure you’re not “just a friend” to the person you think you’re dating? Here are some helpful tips to tell whether the person you’re hanging out with is more than just a friend and wants to be your girlfriend/boyfriend.

1. Notice the way they have dressed up

When you’re on a date, it’s essential to pay attention to how your date is dressed. To resolve the friendly date vs a romantic date confusion, pay attention to their Birkenstocks. If they wear a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, they may be more interested in hanging out and having fun than getting to know you better. But if they’re wearing expensive shoes or fancy outfits, they might be doing it to impress you. In that case, it’s probably a date.

In many cases, people will dress up for the first date and do their hair as they want something more than just hanging out with you. And to look attractive or cool for you. If you don’t put in the effort, they see being with you as hanging out. But remember, there are many folks out there who dress up for every meetup and occasion because that’s how they express their authentic selves. It’s for no one else but them.

2.  When do they call or text you back?

The most obvious sign that it’s not a date is if your new friend doesn’t call or text you back after a week or two. If they don’t even acknowledge your existence, you can safely assume that they’re not interested in dating or having a relationship with you.

If you are sitting and waiting by your phone for them to text, you are clearly pining for them. There’s no harm in it as it only means that two people are not on the same page. Don’t fret, because it happens all the time and is totally fine. If this happens to you, it’s time to move on and find someone who is on the same page as you.

hanging out vs dating
Have they reached out to you?

3. What do they talk about with you?

Is it a date? How they act is one of the most important indicators of whether you’re on a date or just hanging out. The person you’re with should be genuinely interested in you. During your social interactions with them, notice how deeply they care about you (or not). So, if you’re going to date someone, keep these in mind:

  • They should ask what you like, how you spend your time, and what makes you happy
  • If they don’t want to know any of those things and just want to be frivolous and have a good time, then it’s probably not a date. That is the fundamental difference between hanging out and dating
  • If they’re asking questions about your life, that’s another good sign that they’re interested in getting to know you better. They’ve put some thought into what they want to know before they approach you
  • They should be listening intently, making eye contact rather than looking down or away from you when you talk (which can feel like a sign of disinterest)

People’s behavior on dates can be tricky because many factors are at play. The best thing to do is practice being an open book with someone new to understand each other better.

Related Reading: 5 Ways In Which Women Play Hard To Get Every Time

4. Watch out for their body language 

To find out what a date means in relationship and if you’re actually dating or just hanging out, ask yourself if they are genuinely interested in you. To understand the hanging out vs dating issue, pay attention to the subtleties when you two hang out. If you think you’ve been getting mixed signals from this person, try to notice their body language and how they position themselves to you.

A scenario for you: You’re out with a woman you like. Watch her body language during the movie and afterward. Is she sitting close to you? Is she leaning into your shoulder? If one of your hands gently finds its way onto hers, how does she react? Watch out for such indications where your companion has decided to get closer to you and to be more than friends with benefits or colleagues with whom one occasionally shares an interest in movies.

5. Do they look at their phone a lot when you’re around?

When someone is interested in you, they will flirt with their eyes and engage with you. They’ll listen to what you say and give you their full attention. But if a person is ignoring you, then there’s a good chance that they don’t think of this interaction as a romantic date.

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6. Notice the way they tease you

If someone teases you, but it’s done in a way that makes you feel good about yourself, then it’s a sign that they like you. A good tease can show that a person is interested and willing to take the relationship to the next level. For example, if your friend says “I love your style” or “Your brain is so hot,” those compliments make you feel good; they might also be signs that they want more than just friendship.

However, if someone teases you too much, especially if they do it repeatedly, it could be because they have low self-esteem or insecurity issues. They have trouble getting along with others.

7. Is it just the two of you or do they bring a friend?

The first date is meant to be fun and exciting. It’s an opportunity to get to know someone better on a personal level. Whether you do it over a round of drinks or over paintball, is totally up to you. But if your ‘date’ decides to bring a friend along at the last minute, then things are not looking good for you.

It’s the one-on-one interaction on a first date which helps people determine the kind of attraction they have toward one another. If an extra person tags along, it dilutes the chance of having any romantic feelings.

Related Reading: Confused About A Guy? 18 Tips To Help You

8. Do they keep mentioning someone close to them?

If your date mentions a crush or an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend or ex-partner in a lot of ways, this could be a sign that they’re still emotionally attached to them and may not be looking for anything more than friendship at this point in their lives.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s worth mentioning because it can show that they’re not ready for a serious relationship. At this point, it just makes sense to back off from the situation.

what is considered a date
If they mention someone else romantically close to them, you are not on a date

9. “Is it a date?” See if it has a romantic vibe

A date has an air of romance about it, and that’s because it’s a special occasion. When you go on a date with someone, you’re going out in public as a couple — In a private room or restaurant. You’re taking your relationship to the next level as you spend time together, which means some things need to be done differently than other times with other people.

Romantic dates involve different interactions than non-romantic ones do. For example, when you meet for coffee and chat about work, it might feel like two friends meeting for coffee and chatting. But when you go out to dinner together, it’s more like two dating partners getting to know each other better. The atmosphere is more intimate and romantic, which makes it very easy for your date to get romantic vibes from you.

How can you tell if it is a date? Or just hanging out with a guy? A user on Quora answered: “It depends on the guy. If a guy is truly interested in you, you will know it. You will feel it! Next time you hang out with that guy, take a moment and listen to your gut or feel the vibe. Does he make any effort to become closer to you? To impress you or attract you? Usually, the guy will let you know if it’s a date. If he doesn’t call it a date, it’s safe to assume you are hanging out.”

10. Do they ask you to “hang out”?

This is a clear sign that it’s not a date. When you’re going to date someone, make sure they don’t mention that they just wish to ‘hang out’. If they talk about hanging out shows and mention that they don’t have dating plans and are just looking for some company, you can be sure it’s not a date. Did you just watch TV with them without ordering in any food or making much conversation? Do you routinely meet up for runs in the morning but don’t grab a bagel after? To us, that looks like the friend zone.

If they ask you to tag along on little escapades where you both don’t do much, it’s just considered hanging out. But if they are more elaborate in their interactions with you and also ask questions like “Do you want to go out with me?”, then there’s a better chance that you two are on a date.

dating tips

11. Do you feel comfortable with each other?

What is considered a date? Well, try to think of whether the following happened. Were you able to relate to each other’s feelings? If so, it means you have a stronger connection than you both do with other people. It also means you don’t need to try too hard to make things work. 

Does your partner open up to you? Do they feel safe enough with you to share their thoughts and feelings? If so, this is one of the signs they have an emotional connection with you. But if they’re not comfortable sharing with you, well, maybe it’s just hanging out.

12. Are they touchy-feely?

Touching gently with consent could be an important part of both romantic and platonic relationships, so it’s important that any potential partner feels comfortable touching you without feeling awkward about it down the line. If you want to tell the difference between dating and just being friends, then think about how much this person touches you (consensually). If they seem uncomfortable with physical contact even after a lot of ‘dates,’ it is pretty obvious that they think of you as a friend and it ends there.

Related Reading: 11 Tips To Build A Successful Relationship After Cheating

13. “Are we dating or just friends?” Notice if they are nervous around you

Try to gauge how your potential partner feels about meeting you. If the person is nervous, it’s a good sign that they like you romantically. They’re nervous because they want to see you again, and they want things to go well. A nervous person is also likely to be more friendly, as they are trying to make you feel comfortable.

Nervousness can be one of the signs of intense attraction. The more nervous someone is around you, the more likely that they are attracted to you. They might also try hiding their feelings, so they don’t seem too forward or obvious in their actions. If a person feels nervous when talking with you, this could mean that they like you enough to want to talk with you more often and get better acquainted with you.

14. Are you having fun?

When you are meeting people from dating apps, the best way to tell if it’s a date is if both of you are having fun and laughing. If you don’t have fun with your date and they don’t seem to be enjoying themselves, then it’s possible that your so-called date is just a casual encounter at this point.

To keep things light, have some funny conversation going and make sure it isn’t about work or something banal. Also, make sure your date knows that you enjoy their company so they can reciprocate the feeling by being there for you as well.

15. Do you feel like your love life is a movie?

When does hanging out become a date? If on one of these meetings, you start to feel like you’re in a movie or have found yourself saying things like “This is so romantic!” or “I can’t believe this!”, then it’s safe to say that this is a real date. There is a feeling of romance in the air and the flirting is making you feel like you’re on top of the world. However, if most of the times, your meetings with them feel average at best, then it’s possible that there is not much more here.

16. Do you have dinner together?

This is a sign that you’re not on a date, but just spending quality time together. If you’re going out to dinner and the restaurant is busy, then this probably means that it’s not a date. You should be sure that both of you have reservations at your desired time and place.

17. Do they initiate plans?

The only time you two actually ever go out is when you reach out to them. If your date doesn’t seem interested in making plans for the future or taking things further than just meeting up again, then that’s another sign that it’s not a date.

Related Reading: 60 Affirmations To Attract Love, Romance, And Relationship In 2023

What Is Actually Considered A Date?

So, what defines a date? Are there any sure-shot signs? While there is a thin line between having a chill time as friends and actually being on a date, there are times when a mere hangout session transforms into a full-blown date and catches you by surprise. If this happens to you, then the next time you meet each other, is it now considered a date? Here are some signs that it’s a date:

  • You both get dressed up for dinner
  • You either go out to a nice dinner or if you’re getting takeout, you make it yourself
  • You spend the night together
  • You visit somewhere new together (like a museum or park) for more one-on-one time
  • You have fun with your friends/family members together
  • The two of you like to spend “quality time” together, like spending time in each other’s company, watching a movie or playing music together, working on something that you both enjoy doing and are good at, etc.
  • The two of you are having conversations that wouldn’t normally happen between people who aren’t interested in a relationship

Key Pointers

  • If a person isn’t touchy-feely with you or their body language doesn’t signal any attraction signs toward you, then it’s definitely not a date
  • The level of interest they have in your life will clarify whether it’s a date or you’re hanging out with each other
  • When they do romantic things for you like getting red roses or they invite you to have a candlelight dinner, then it’s a date
  • It’s not a date when they dress casually, and they mention someone they have a crush on or give you a hint that they have someone else in their life

It’s important to know whether or not you are on a date to avoid embarrassing yourself in the future. If they show zero interest in the meeting, then you can safely assume that they are not interested in you, and this relationship won’t last. On the other side, if they do reach out to you and ask if you would like to go on a date, then you can say yes if you really like them. They could even turn out to be your soulmate. Good luck! 

This article was updated in August 2023.


1. Is hanging out with a guy alone a date?

Not necessarily. Even if you hang out together for the first time, it does not guarantee that you two are on a date. If you see each other as potential partners or are romantically interested in one another, then you may consider it a date.

2. How to ask if it’s a date?

Usually, it’s easiest to just send a text message before you two hang out, if you consider this meeting to be a date. Or if things are going well, you may ask during the meeting as well. If the other person asked you the same question, just respond with utmost sincerity and honesty.

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