Step Your Game Up: Hanging Out Is Not Dating


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Here we are, in the 21st century. Gen-X’ers, Gen Y-ers, Gen-Whatever’ers who are having a hard enough time navigating massive student loan debts, high rents, and a difficult job market. To add the icing on the cake, they are floundering through the dating world slash hookup culture and quickly discovering that nobody knows what the hell is going on.

That’s probably because there is no structure. There is no methodology. There is no progressive course of events. And many times, there are really no role models out there leading by example for what to even do.

Essentially, everyone is like a ship at sea without a destination. Maybe hoping to bump into another one every once in awhile and ask how to get to port, but everybody’s navigation seems to be broken.

I think a big part of this is the fact that people [particularly younger men and women] have completely lost sight of what ‘dating’ actually means. Then again, maybe they didn’t actually lose sight of it because they never knew in the first place. Many members of the more recent generations have grown up just hanging out with each other.

Actually going to a movie (not that that’s the best date idea…) gave way to coming over to watch a movie – which was essentially just code words to make the invitation sound less forward. Calling a girl to actually ask her out on a date has become a last minute “Hey, want to hang out?” text that implies no effort or real meaning whatsoever.

A date is not a random, last minute invitation. When you are getting to know someone, a date should be planned. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive, but it should actually bear some resemblance to a series of events that you put some conscious effort into in order to ensure both parties actually enjoy themselves.

But, this notion is on a quite obvious decline. I don’t think there is just one thing to blame. I think we are losing social skills despite “social media” that make people more uncomfortable around one another and perhaps contribute to less of a willingness to actually form a real life connection that doesn’t require a friend request.

I think we are losing the value of commitment. We see this in the job market, we see it with technology, and we are seeing it with significant others. Everything just seems to be a placeholder to keep us busy until something better comes along. And – this is happening with ‘relationships’ too. What happened to the honor of keeping your word? The dignity of standing by someone when things get difficult? The integrity of upholding the promises you made long after the mood that you made them in, has past?

It is all declining. And we are wondering why everyone is always complaining about the opposite sex.

Our young men are also getting flooded with mixed messages. Do women want to be equal, or do they want to be courted? Is there even a conflict between the two? Can’t chivalry and equality coexist? Should he still pay for dinner? These questions can be confusing to people who have not yet defined their own answers to believe in.

But…what if you get turned down? What if you get rejected? In a society where trophies are handed out just for participating, we are not learning to lose, therefore we are not learning to identify our weaknesses and improve them.

It is all declining. And it is taking the concept of dating and courtship down with it.

Men find themselves perpetually trapped in the ‘friend zone’ and wonder why. Without asking a woman on a proper date, she has no reason to believe you even want to be anything more than friends. Hanging out or even going out for drinks or spending time in groups does not send her that message.

If actually conveying to the woman you are interested in that you are interested in her isn’t a good reason to invite her on a real life date, I don’t know what is.

For this reason, think about how rare it is for a woman to be asked on a date. Women get approached constantly. They get complimented constantly. They get invited to clubs and parties and events and whatevers, constantly. But do you know what the difference is? Those men are not you. Those men are not putting in the effort to actually discover who she is. Those men are not taking the time to express interest in her and to do something together that would allow you to actually have a real conversation.

Let’s be honest – a lot of men out there are just trying to get into her pants. But you want more than that. Telling her isn’t enough, you’re going to have to show her.

I’m sure I am not the only one who has heard the low-hanging fruit analogy when it comes to dating. Men, in order to avoid rejection (and possibly effort), will do what is easiest. They will invite women to just hang out. They won’t approach the woman who they really want to get to know because she just might be out of his league. They will grab at the apple on the bottom branch, because hey, it’s easier.

And the whole time this is happening, the freshest fruits are in the top branches staying untouched because every man is thinking the same way. Little do they know, desirable women are probably not being asked on real dates as often as you might think.

Are you going to take the easy road and keep ‘hanging out,’ or are you going to take a chance and climb the tree? You might fall down a few times and get hurt, but you will become better on each climb to a new apple.

There are women out there waiting for someone to prove that all men are not the same. They are waiting for a man to take the initiative and invite them on a real, actual date. They are waiting for a man to climb the tree.

Is it going to be you?


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  1. athenarcarson9 on October 21, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    “Without asking a woman on a proper date, she has no reason to believe you even want to be anything more than friends.”

    Agreed. I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me that a male friend of mine likes me SO much and it’s just SO obvious. But he, of course, hasn’t said a word to me. So in the mean time, I go on a date with someone who actually asks me on a date. What a concept. And then male friend is disappointed. Was I supposed to be a mind-reader?

    • jon on October 24, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      No, you’re not a mind reader, just an idiot. If a male friend asks to hang out, that is him trying to get to know you. He wants to sit down over coffee and have a conversation. Your kust a shitty girl. That male friend exhibited enough attention towards you fthat you should have been aware of his feelings. Why not acknowledge those feelings and confront him bout it?

      • athenarcarson9 on October 24, 2014 at 5:27 pm

        “If a male friend asks to hang out, that is him trying to get to know you. He wants to sit down over coffee and have a conversation.”

        Yes. That is something that friends do. What’s your point? Why would I assume that a male friend wants more than friendship when he treats me like a friend? How would I differentiate the male friend who is interested in me romantically from the male friend who is NOT interested in me romantically if they both treat me the same way?

      • Steph on October 27, 2014 at 9:58 pm

        “And he likes me SO much but they haven’t said a word to me” If a guy doesn’t talk to me, I’m going to assume he doesn’t care. That doesn’t make me a shitty person. If you like me, then tell me, or at least ask me out. Sorry, but some “subliminal” message isn’t going to work.

      • LilaMarie on October 25, 2015 at 3:36 am

        Jon is just bitter because maybe he lacks balls and too lazy to put in effort.

    • Eric on October 25, 2014 at 8:41 am

      He should have just asked you on a date. I have had bad times and good times asking girls on dates I don’t see why people are so scared if you get rejected oh well if not then good for you. I have recently came to the conclusion that I like this girl I’ve known for 5 years and after this realization I asked her on a date shes busy with school so we haven’t went on that date yet but the point is that it’s best to be straight forward with people and I hate when people aren’t straight forward with me so why would you give that guy a chance if he wouldn’t be straight forward with you?

      • athenarcarson9 on October 25, 2014 at 12:00 pm

        Agreed. I hope things go well with the girl you like, but I feel compelled to remind you that sometimes girls use “busy” as an excuse if they’re not interested but don’t want to hurt the guy’s feelings. I hope she’s not doing that with you, because like you said, it sucks when people aren’t straighforward with you. Even if the answer isn’t what you want to hear, at least you know now and you can work around that.

      • jon on October 25, 2014 at 2:32 pm

        All guys are romantically interested in you if theyre talking to you.
        Do you really think any guy wants to be just your friend. If youre really this dumb i feel bad for you, but i think you just use the ignorance to ignore the feelings and shift the blame when you inevitabley wind up hurting him.
        Girls like you make me hesitant to seek for a connection with women.

    • Liza180 on June 22, 2015 at 8:53 pm

      I agree with you and to jon, that is so not true. Just because I have guy friends, it doesn’t mean they are interested in me romantically. I do agree that a man needs to SHOW us he is interested or we won’t notice most of the time. Friend zoning is so easy when two people don’t communicate. I’m always going to assume the guy is NOT interested in me unless he makes a move to ask me out.

  2. sharon on October 21, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    this says it all lol..well said x

  3. on October 21, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    I think this particular one should be published in the front page of the newspaper. Best one yet
    Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

  4. rouellachristina on October 23, 2014 at 12:38 am

    So much feels for this one. It all sounds so simple but it is so true, especially during these modern and extremely connected times. Quite an irony, don’t you think? Anyhow, thank you for the wonderful article! I’m definitely sharing this one with friends 🙂

  5. […] the last time they were taken on an actual date. Mind = blown. It goes back to the concept of ‘hanging out’ not actually being dating, but more and more people are beginning to think one is an acceptable replacement for the other, […]

  6. Ron Swanson on October 23, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    But what if he just wants to be friends?

    • Mike on October 24, 2014 at 6:46 am

      Then he needs to find a male and quit wasting a woman’s time.

      • athenarcarson9 on October 24, 2014 at 5:28 pm

        Plenty of men and women have no problem being friends.

    • athenarcarson9 on October 24, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      Then there’s no issue!

  7. Mike on October 24, 2014 at 6:50 am

    The problem is not the women. The problem is the beta-males failing to act like men. A woman will follow a (real) man’s lead. This isn’t rocket science.

  8. jon on October 24, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    You woman need to get your heads checked.
    Take the initiative if your unsatisfied with your shortcomings with men.
    If all you’re ever doing is waiting for a man to ask, then you’re all going to be waiting quite a while.
    I want a want a woman who stands out and has a clear indication of what she wants.
    So keep sitting around and pointing fingers at us men, but its not going to change anything except make men less willing to attempt to break through that outer shield of yours.

    • athenarcarson9 on October 24, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      Projection much? Learn to ask for what you want. Otherwise you’ll be waiting a long time.

    • Lynn on April 1, 2015 at 1:06 pm

      We are waiting for a “man” to ask. We’ve had our fill of lost boys; thus, our outer shield. Your message is telling and self explanatory. Thank you.

  9. Jay on October 24, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    I enjoyed this article very much. It makes a lot of sense and is exactly what I do. Ask girls out on dates. Even if it does not work out for chemistry reasons, or what not, lots of trees must be climbed to find the write apple. But what is the deal with women expecting men to do all the asking out gibberish? Are you a strong independent woman who knows what she wants and is looking for? Have you made decisions for yourself that has made you into what you believe is a successful/happy person or did the world make those decisions for you? Then why are you waiting from a man, or “the man” to come and ask you out? I thought all these women want to be treated as equals to men? I say act like it then. Every guy that fails to make a move and ask a woman out could be missing out on what could be the best thing to ever happen him and the same is true for all the women that are waiting for a guy they may be interested in to make the move. She’s missing out on the same opportunities Both sides need to take responsibility for your own dating life/happiness.

    • Jay on October 24, 2014 at 7:10 pm

      oops, I meant “right apple”

    • Lynn on April 1, 2015 at 1:11 pm

      I believe, in my view anyway, is that if a man does the asking … the woman knows where he stands … if he’s interested … if he pursues her. If a man doesn’t take the initiative and actually ask her on a date, it’s telling as to how much effort he will put forth in the future … if there is a future … if he has any creativity or if he will expect her to guide the relationship. I’m Christian and believe the man should lead. I have no interest in a man that doesn’t.

  10. Anon on October 24, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    I don’t see why it’s 100% mens’ responsibility to chase girls. A girl has never asked me out – I don’t see why I should be expected to put myself forward like that. If they are really interested they should step up and make an effort instead of waiting around for a guy to do all the work. At least meet half way. Otherwise they have no reason to complain.

  11. Kelly on October 24, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Sometimes, just sometimes, strong independent successful women like to feel taken care of. Open the car door & I’ll make you a sandwich. The non-specific “hanging out” and “Would you like to meet for coffee/lunch/dinner/movie/rock climbing” communicates clear interest. Promise-it’s really not that hard.

    • Lynn on April 1, 2015 at 1:22 pm

      Inclusion. That’s the key to capturing her heart. We hear of all the adventures you did with your friends, male and/or female. We hear the stories. We are not asked about our stories. We are not included in yours. I spoke with a man for four months. We had one lunch and one dinner (not sure if I could classify either of them as dates). After the second meeting, he actually asked me a question about me (over the phone, of course) … I was silent. He asked again … again, silence. I realized that after four months of talking … he had never asked a single question about me or what I was about … he knew nothing about me. We had spoken for four months, and I was never included in the conversation, it was all about him. He mentioned that he told his son about me and my son. I still wonder what he had to say … he knows neither of us. Clear interest ~ I can honestly say ~ I’ve never known that, felt that … I wouldn’t know how to respond if I was asked something about myself. This would be one of the reasons we don’t pursue men ~ why?

  12. adhemarde on October 27, 2014 at 7:09 am

    The lack of social skills is epidemic among young people. There are many reasons for this. Probably first and foremost is how the feminist ideology has changed our culture. Feminists insist that there is no use for men whatsoever, that they are predators, and that women would be better off without them. Boys are taught that everything we consider “masculine” is bad, so they are feminized. At the same time, women are “liberated” and told that they have masculine sex drives, and that it is somehow liberating to pass out their favors indiscriminately like candy on Halloween. Many “families” do not have fathers because people no longer understand commitment. Boys, as a result, have no role model at home, and if they do, he is probably as confused as they are. No wonder so many boys and girls are attracted by homosexuality, which is marked by the lack of ability to form mature interpersonal relationships.

  13. MillenialMan on October 28, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    From my experience, asking a girl in her 20’s on a “date” is a surefire way to scare her off. Many people in my generation are commitment-phobes because we were taught how terrible of a thing marriage was by our divorced elders. Nowadays, I can get a girl to come “hang out” without much an issue, but getting a girl to go on a date is like pulling teeth.

    • Liza180 on June 22, 2015 at 8:59 pm

      I can see your point. I was scared to death of dates in my early 20s. I was used to the meet at a party, hook up and THEN go out culture. It took a lot of online dating where I forced myself out there to get over feeling weird on dates. But that’s often what it takes. Practice. Ask out many girls. If they say no…Next!

  14. Chronicles of Christie on October 30, 2014 at 1:36 am

    Reblogged this on Chronicles of Christie and commented:
    This is the truth. Is traditional dating dead? If so, what is it that we’re doing nowadays?! Are we making things unnecessarily more complicated for ourselves? Let’s just get back to the basics, can we?

  15. […] I have to give credit where it’s due. The Art Of Manliness put together this great ‘instructional video’ which reinforces some of the things I talk about on this blog – particularly that hanging out is not the same as dating. […]

  16. Liza180 on June 22, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    I liked this post because I’m in my 40s and see this so often. As a matter of fact, I dated a man my age for 4 months and realized he only asked me out twice. Once before we met and the other very last minute for cocktails. I had to be the one to finally say, “Hey, we’re going on a real date.” For awhile I really thought he wasn’t interested, but then realized that is just how he is. I don’t want to be the one leading all the time. I want a man to come after me and SHOW me he wants to be with me. It will be reciprocated immensely. Otherwise, this “hang out” or whatever it is plays with the female brain. We are not wired to separate it all. We are wired to analyze, wonder, think about and fix it. So if he is not asking us out, we will assume he isn’t interested, get upset about it, wonder what we are doing wrong and finally move on. Sorry guys, thats just how we females are.

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