Is it a date, or just hanging out?

You’re friends. Really good ones. But there have been ‘moments’ where your eyes have locked a little too long. So where do you go from there? If it’s tricky to tell where you stand with someone and coming right out and asking “is this a date or just hanging out” is way too full on, let The Mix help you figure things out.

Two young women are sitting at a desk. They are trying to figure out if it's a date. This is a wide-angle image.

Is it a date?

Your ‘friend’ has asked you to do something with them. Result! However, an invite to the movies  – especially from someone you’re already friends with – can be quite ambiguous. You’ll need to do some detective work to suss out the vibe.

“I reckon you can just tell from the weird nervous tension, strange blushing.  Also if both of you are particularly careful to not put kisses on emails and texts, it’s probably a sign,” says Bethany. “I am currently in a very happy relationship with my former friend. I don’t know if asking her to come to my house ‘to do some art’ counted as a date, though?”

Where are you going? Are you watching DVDs at their house, or going for dinner? Either could be a date. Being at home offers a relaxed opportunity to make a move, unless their parents/housemates/kid brother are there to kill the mood. Then again, maybe they just thought you’d like to see that particular movie, as a pal. If you’re going for dinner there’s a good chance it is a date. Unfortunately, all the things in between – bowling, going to see a gig, the cinema – could be interpreted as either scenario. Dating never makes it easy for us, does it? 

Will it be just the two of you? If other mates tag along for the ride and they aren’t another couple, i.e. a double date, then this is not a date. We repeat, this is not a date; so don’t even think about making a move. Just relax and enjoy the day as friends, you’ll get your chance later on.

How did they phrase it? If they asked if you wanted to hang out for the day, it’s probably just a ‘friends’ thing. But then again it may be down to fear or shyness. They may want to ask you out, but just hanging out together carries less pressure. They might see it as a chance to get you on your own, but without expectations. In this case, you need to look for more signs on the day.

Signs that it might or might not be a date

Still not sure what’s going on? Look for these tell tale signs:

  • What are they wearing? Have they made more of an effort than usual?
  • Do they mention any other potential love/lust interests? If they go on about fancying someone else and ask your advice on how to make a move, then you can let your guard down. There’s a 99% chance that this is NOT a date. 
  • How are they behaving? Look at their body language? Are you two play-fighting? This is a good sign of physical attraction. Are they flirting with you? If they are, shoot your shot. Flirt back and see what happens.
  • Did they give you a good night kiss before you parted ways? This could be a sign they’re into you. Unless they do this to all their friends, of course. 

When to make a move

So you’ve got green lights all the way so far, but what do you do now? Well, for starters, brush up on your pulling skills. Reciprocate their body language and wait for them to clock your interest before you make a move. If you’re taking the plunge you could be bold and get the words out: “So, is this a real date or what?” Alternatively, try holding their hand or leaning in for a kiss and see how they react.

On the other hand, you could do nothing; simply sit back and wait for whatever happens to happen. If you don’t think there’s anything going on at all and start to panic quietly, retreat with grace. At the end of the day, you’d rather keep your friend than mess things up permanently.

When you thought it was a date, but it was just hanging out

So you gave it your best shot but they’re not interested. At the time you can brush it off as a joke/moment of madness/too much booze/hormones etc. They may not buy it, but they probably won’t make a big deal out of it either. Or there’s the casually honest option: “Oh, it just seemed like it would be nice, no bother, we’re still mates, right?”

Once you’ve escaped the situation, things may not seem so bad. Still, getting turned down is always difficult, no matter the circumstance. Just try to remember that some things are just not meant to be and a friendship can be resumed eventually. You may want to take a little time out and get together with with other pals while you lick your wounds. To help with this process, you can also read this article on how to deal with rejection.

Next Steps

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By Susie Wild

Updated on 25-Dec-2021