I like dates. That's why I try and write about them as much as possible (check out "15 Date Ideas Based On Your Love Language", "10 Romantic Dates You Can Go On (In Your Own Home)" and "When's The Last Time You And Your Man Had A 'Sex Date'?"). Here's the tripped out thing, though—when I talk to single women about dating and their expectations, it's kind of amazing—and by "amazing", I mean unfortunate—how few have a real standard to go on. What I mean by that is, how few seem to even get what qualifies as a real date (or they seem to manipulate the basis for dating which is another article altogether).
While I do think that there are different levels and even purposes to dating (for instance, even though I think married couples should date as well, their reason for doing so is a bit different than someone who is on their fourth or fifth date with someone new), a good date is something we all are deserving of. And if you're single and not in an exclusive long-term situation—which is who I am writing this particular piece for—you definitely should have some clear expectations of what a real date entails.
Yes, this is all my personal opinion and I'm certainly open to your own hot takes in the comment session. Still, I think that if you take even half of these into consideration the next time you decide to go out with someone, you'll be able to return home feeling confident that a date is exactly what you experienced. Ready to see what's on my list?
1. There’s a Plan in Place
If there is no other takeaway from this particular article, please keep this one in your psyche for the rest of your dating life. When two people are on a date, the date should come as the result of some sort of plan. Am I saying that there can't be spontaneous moments between two people that are wonderful, memorable and quality time-filled? Of course, there can be. Yet when someone wants to spend precious time with another individual, it's my personal opinion that some forethought should be put into that, especially during the beginning stages of a relationship.
Otherwise, it kinda comes off as, "I mean, I didn't really have anything better to do. Meet me at the [insert name here] restaurant real quick." We make plans for work. We make plans for the weekend. We make plans to hang with our homies. So, hell yeah, a date should also have a plan. Otherwise, it's more like a random get together or hangout. Which again, is cool. It's not a real date—in the traditional sense—qualifier, though.
2. You’re Not in Either Person's Home
I've had dates in my house. I've experienced dates at a man's place. You know what, though? Neither happened during the first several weeks of dating. And while some a couple of months might seem like for-e-ver to some of y'all, it really isn't if you're someone who is intentional about honoring your personal space and the kind of energy that comes into it. While I'm all about cooking a meal in my kitchen for that special boo thang, you don't get to "boo status" during the first three dates.
Besides, although I semi-loathe the Lifetime channel, I've seen enough of its movies to not want to end up in someone's closet for three weeks because I went to their house before I knew their character well enough to know what they're capable of. Another point? Many of my male friends have told me that a man who is quick to want to bring you home is someone who is less interested in what is happening from the neck up, if you know what I mean.
Bottom line, house space should be seen as a great privilege more than a mere convenience. Don't be so quick to let someone in yours until they have earned the "honor" of being able to do so.
3. Money Is Spent
I listen to a lot of podcasts, so I can't remember which one I heard a particular phrase on. All I know is, when I did, it tripped me right on out. Someone said that there's an epidemic of women who ONLY go on dates in order to get a free meal. They are not interested in the guy. They don't plan on seeing him more than once. Yet if they can get a man to take them to some place they've always wanted to go, they will "sacrifice" their time and go because it's not on their time. What these kinds of "dates" are called are "foodie calls". While that is hilarious to me, it also causes me to roll my eyes in disappointment because that's a form of using someone and if you don't want to be used, you shouldn't create your own karma in that way. So, when I say that money should be spent, I am not cosigning on using a man. Not at all.
This point pretty much connects to the last one that I just made. And really, when you stop to think about it, the point before that one too. Here's why—I'm not sure how much planning you can do, outside of your home, without spending a single dime. Even if the date is an outdoor picnic, you've probably got to pick up some ice for a cooler, some fresh flowers or something. My main point here is a date should be seen as an investment and oftentimes, when we think of investing, money is the first thing that comes to mind. The amount is irrelevant. How it was spent into creating a memorable date, though? That very much is a valid point.
4. Chivalry’s Displayed
If ever there was a subject that causes me to chuckle at how double standards tend to play out between men and women, it's chivalry. The reason why I say that is because, some of the main women who say that "chivalry is dead" are also the ones who claim that they want patriarchy, in all of its forms, to go away. Umm, you do know that chivalry is birthed out of patriarchy, right?
Although patriarchy has been taken to disturbing extremes, at the end of the day, it's about male leadership/authority and if you want a man to ask you out, open doors, pay for meals…someday propose—that's him leading. I hope it goes without saying that pretty much anything that's taken to the extreme is going to prove to be problematic AF. Still, to say that you hate "all things patriarchy", you're basically saying that you want chivalry to go out of the door along with it. Perhaps as collateral damage yet out nonetheless. Just something to think about.
As a complementarian myself (a belief that men and women have equal value with different purposes that complement one another), I am all about some good ole' chivalry. When a man is naturally a gentleman, it reveals a lot about how he's been raised, how he thinks a woman should be treated and how he will provide for and protect her should things go to another level in the future. And since, to me, dates are a lot like a job interview—not in the sense of interrogating people (please don't do that) but in the sense of really seeing if you're a good fit—chivalry should show up. If it's a real date, that is.
5. Meaningful Conversation Is Had
Technically, dinner and a movie are a date. It's not my favorite thing on the planet because it's super predictable and something that I like to see show up on a date is creativity. Another reason why it's not my favorite thing—especially during the first 3-5 dates—is oftentimes restaurants are loud (either because of the other people or the music) and you definitely can't bond in a movie theater over all of the noise on the screen.
So, unless the date is gonna consist of eating outside on a porch or taking a long walk after a film, encourage your dates to be elsewhere—at least for a little while. The main reason why is because, more than anything, what should be transpiring on a date, is open and honest communication. You need to be able to look at each other, make eye contact and feel comfortable asking and answering questions. A date that's designed to cultivate good communication is definitely something that qualifies as a real date in my book.
6. Distractions Are Removed
I don't know why in the world folks would go on a date and keep their phone on (unless you have kids or are on-call) or they would go on a date that has televisions everywhere or music that is booming. OK, so what about a concert? Is that a real date? It is. Especially if someone takes you to hear a favorite artist or something. Again, because of things that we've already discussed, it shouldn't be the "end all" of that date, though. Either some quiet time needs to happen prior to walking in or after walking out. Bottom line with this point is a real date is when both people are all about the other person. The focus is on them and solely them. If one or both of you are all over the place when it comes to where you're placing your attention, what are you on the date for in the first place?
7. Sex Isn’t Involved
I know. Some folks have sex on first dates. Noted. Remember, this article isn't about sex; it's about what constitutes as a real date and I can't tell you how many people I've talked to, over the course of my lifetime, who aren't sure if they've ever been on an actual date because so many of their experiences have consisted of some variation of "Netflix and Chill". Ugh. That's why Jeremih's "Birthday Sex" kinda irks me. Floating on your waterbed is my birthday present? No sir. Don't even try it (LOL).
Sex is great. Full stop. Still, when you're in the beginning stages of a relationship, to call that a "date" is kind of a lazy approach. And don't even get me started on how it can muddle your thinking because far too many of us have fallen victim to confusing good sex with a great relationship (check out "Don't Mistake A Great Sex Partner For A Great Life Partner").
If anything, sex should culminate a date not be something that constitutes being one—and even then, not all of the time. Shoot, even when you go on sex dates, there should be some effort put into it (a hotel room, rose petals on the bed and floor, etc.). Anyway, if this has you totally thrown because you can't remember the last time you were swept off of your feet without there being a bed beneath you, I'm glad you're reading this. Require some non-sex dates. You're worth it.
8. You Feel Special
To be special is to be set apart. Synonyms for this word include exceptional, different, rare, unique and exclusive. Keeping this in mind, when you're done going on a date with someone and one of your friends hits you up and ask how it went, if something along the lines of these words doesn't come out of your mouth, I don't think it should count as a real date.
Again, it can't be emphasized enough that this isn't about how much money was spent. It's about you walking away and thinking, "Man, this guy really put some time, effort and energy into making sure that I believed him when he said that he wanted to spend some quality time with me." When it's a real date, it's special—exceptional, different, rare, unique and exclusive—because you are all of those things. And a special date is the only date you should be going on. Straight up.
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