He Thought It Was A Date, You Didn't. Now What?

Five years ago, I became good friends with a gentleman in my beginner dance class. We had good dance chemistry, so we would go to multiple classes and open dance sessions each week. We weren't "together," but we'd check in and see if the other person was going and dance with each other frequently. These meetups weren't dates and didn't feel like them, but after a few weeks of this, my dance partner asked me to get dinner instead, without any further explanation.

I had entertained the idea of a romantic connection early on in the dance friendship, but as we remained platonic for weeks, I had closed off the possibility in my mind. This dinner seemed too late to be a move toward romance, especially given that I was moving away within a few weeks.

We ate at a romantic outdoor restaurant and got entirely off the subject of dancing, talking about our families and other personal topics. I found myself asking outright whether it was a date or not, and I got a pretty confusing answer: "I don't know."

The confusion was eventually cleared up through a few multi-hour talks: We weren't meant to be in a romantic relationship, and the timing would have been terrible even if we were. Part of my concern with dating him was the confusing way our relationship would have started, especially since it made me feel like he wasn't interested enough to make a clear move. And this confusion also ended up having a chilling effect on what was otherwise a good friendship.

This kind of "surprise date" - what I call a social outing that turns out to be a date, even if one or even both parties don't know it beforehand - can seem innocent enough, and perhaps exciting to some people. But to me, it seems like a way to risk making a friendship uncomfortable or making someone feel like you don't really like them, even if you do.

Dating apps and a pick-up line in a bar clearly signal a person's intentions as romantic. Unfortunately, if those intentions are clear, it allows us to avoid the words "Want to go on a date?" and so we aren't used to stating what we want in ambiguous contexts.

"The words 'date,' 'romance,' and 'sex,' even, are taboo words and they make people nervous," said Thomas Edwards, a professional wingman. "To alleviate that anxiety, they use softer words like 'let's hang out'; it makes everything a bit more casual but also confuses the intention."

Meetups with co-workers, friends or acquaintances from clubs or organizations can sometimes fall into in this middle ground between a date and not. There might also be more at stake if the intentions are expressed poorly, as compared to a casual first date arranged on Tinder.

"You have to ask yourself: Is the prospect of having a romantic relationship more valuable than the risk this poses to the current relationship?" Edwards says. "You must be clear, transparent and honest, because without that, things get very complicated."

Intentions can become an especially serious issue in an era when Harvey Weinstein and other men accused of sexual misconduct have allegedly tried to initiate physical contact in encounters that were purportedly business-related. Even when nothing illegal is happening, when someone creates an atmosphere of romance without voicing their intentions, they might make the person uncomfortable. Given these complications, specifically saying, "Want to go on a date?" can be useful.

"Doing a surprise date, even when done in a nonaggressive, undeniably romantic, well-intentioned way, can be tricky," says Laurel House, a dating and empowerment coach. She mentions that it might work for rekindling a relationship with an ex or for making the person you're hooking up with more of a long-term romantic partner, but in both of those cases, some mutual interest was expressed already, and she recommends moving slowly to make sure the other person is on board.

Even when no one intends a surprise date to be manipulative, they can come across that way. If simply asked to eat dinner together, without the implication of a date, many people might say yes in part because they thought they were safely out of "date" territory. "At its best it could be an awkward situation for the person to gracefully bow out of," Kali Rogers, founder of Blush Online Life Coaching. "At its worst, they could easily feel like they're being sexually harassed. It's best not to put somebody you like in either of those situations."

And if you do find yourself on a surprise date, then once the mental fog clears, it's important to remember you always have a choice. "It is more than acceptable to end the date immediately," Rogers said. "You do not need to continue being put in a situation you did not agree to in the first place."

"You are adults and can communicate with each other; it can be hard to say 'I don't feel the way you do' but it's necessary," Edwards added. "Then you can collaborate on whether to continue with the planned activity."

While there are other strategies to finding out if these friends or colleagues are interested in dating - like getting a friend to ask the person subtly or observing whether this person gives you more attention than other friends - the main rule of thumb is more communication rather than less.

And sometimes, holding off on the date can help. House describes smaller moves toward a romantic relationship as a better way to go, with simple compliments and kind gestures to start: "You are planting little seeds that will hopefully root down and grow up. You are dropping little thoughts in her mind that will unexpectedly pop up and make her start to see you from a new perspective."

(Laura Leavitt is a teacher and writer who focuses on travel, personal finance, relationships and food.)

Special to The Washington Post

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of SPICE FM and SPICE FM does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

9 Compliments Men Give And Why They Aren't Really Compliments At All

Please make a resolution never to use these again

Padmavati: Film and TV Directors' Association to call a meeting in support of Sanjay Leela Bhansali

The meeting is expected to be attended by concerned filmmakers and technicians to express solidarity 

Try Suhana Khan's Gold Makeup Look For Your Next Night Out

This makeup look of Suhana Khan will make sure you shimmer, shine and sparkle

Love in the times of social media

Durjoy Dutta, one of India's leading romantic fiction writers, says digital love, like romances in the earlier times, is very "passionate".


The Internet Is Calling Her 'The Hottest Lecturer In The World!' But Is She Actually?

Interestingly, she is also a part time model, so the students were not

Here's Shahid Kapoor's Wife Mira Rajput Making November Look Amazing

Mira's outfit is a perfect blend of the traditional and contemporary - she styled a peach 

Diwali 2017: 7 Bollywood songs to get the party started!

Here's an awesome dance playlist to set you in the right mood!

Diwali Bash 2017: Bollywood Celebrities and Their Parties to Bring in the Festival of Lights

 The date will see two Bollywood celebrities hosting Diwali bashes. One will be hosted by Sonam Kapoor and the other will be by Shilpa Shetty Kundra.

The Most Beautiful Wives And Exes Of The World’s Richest Men

Those wonderful geeks have a way with women it seems, and Jim Clark found him a main squeeze in Kristy Hinze. Kristy Hinze is a model 

Navratri 2017: From Dholi Taro to Shubharamb, Bollywood playlist for Garba nights

Navratri, the nine-day festival, adds colours, charm and drama to our usual mundane life. 

'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds'. The story of Oppenheimer's infamous quote

As he witnessed the first detonation of a nuclear weapon on July 16, 1945, a piece of Hindu scripture ran through the mind of Robert Oppenheimer: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”. It is, perhaps, the most well-known line from the Bhagavad-Gita, but also the most misunderstood.

The Black Prince: Decoding the Kohinoor mystery, tale of disputed owners

Rather this diamond has a long competitive history, with India, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, all claiming the Kohinoor diamond.

Baby Elephant Chases Birds To Play. Falls Face-Down

An adorable baby elephant chasing around a flock of guinea fowls is going viral on social media for all the right reasons.

Eating Fish Twice a Week May Significantly Reduce Arthritis Pain: Study

Fish is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids, and scientists have found that eating whole fish cooked in a healthy manner may help ease arthritis.

We Are Baffled By The Couple Who Has Barely Eaten For Nine Years!

They Say That They Only Need 'Universe’s Energy' To Live. Really?


Jab Harry Met Sejal to change marketing grammar with mini trails

Imtiaz has come up with the idea to showcase what he calls 'mini trails.

For all those who spend hours listening to us and making us a party of their day-to-day routine, we dedicate this section to you. Drop us your details so we get to know a little more about you and what you like to make your daily listening experience with us more worthwhile. Submit Now