Has a sorta-friend, co-worker or crush ever asked you out on a date?
OK, wait. Not “asked you out,” per se. More like asked if you want to get Saturday brunch at the last second, if you’d be up for a Starbucks run on your break or if you’d want to attend a mutual friend’s party together? And, if so, second question: Was it a date?
According to a recent online survey conducted by J-Date and Christian Mingle published in USA Today, nearly 70 percent of singles have been confused about whether their one-on-one time would be considered a hangout or a date. Because sometimes, when someone asks you to get together, the question rolls off the tongue so casually it’s unclear whether intentions are romantic or platonic.
That said, you can at least watch for signs you’re on a good, old-fashioned date. Here, we tapped a couple of dating experts to share their wisdom.
1. He is specific
He has a day, time and activity in mind for you. “He doesn’t just say, ‘Hey, wanna hang out tomorrow?'” says dating expert Julie Spira.
2. He insists on paying
He will categorically refuse the offer to split the check. “A majority of men, even nowadays, still think that a guy should pick up the check on a first date, so if he does this, it’s often a sign that he sees it as a date,” says dating expert Neely Steinberg, author of Skin in the Game: Unleashing Your Inner Entrepreneur to Find Love.
3. He keeps it just the two of you
“If he wants alone time as opposed to asking you to meet up with him and his friends, it’s a sign that he considers it a date,” says Steinberg.
4. He makes an effort with his physical appearance
Nice clothes, coiffed hair, a spritz of cologne, trim fingernails… if he’s attracted to you, he’ll want you to be attracted to him.
5. He’s flirty and playful
If it feels like he’s in bro-mode? Not a date. “Watch for lingering eye contact, playful smiles, open and positive body language,” says Steinberg. “It’ll be pretty obvious if he’s trying to flirt with you versus if it’s a buddy-buddy connection.”
6. He touches you
He may try to hold your hand, touch the small of your back or just brush your arm in conversation. “And he might try to kiss you at the end of the date instead of a hug while turning his face the other way,” says Spira.
7. He’s chivalrous
He’ll likely be extra sure to open doors, carry things, offer a jacket in a cold restaurant or walk you to your car or hail a cab for you at the end of the evening, says Spira.
8. He doesn’t push for a hookup
Spira says if he’s looking at you in a true, romantic light, he’s not going to press for sex immediately. He’ll take it slow.
9. He’s nervous
If he’s pulling out all the stops for you and unsure if you’ll reciprocate his feelings, he’s bound to freak out just a little on date day. “Guys want to impress a woman on a date, and with that objective in mind often comes a bit of anxiety,” says Steinberg. “If you can sense some anxiousness, you’re probably on a date.”
10. His iPhone stays in his pocket
If he’s texting his friends or answering work calls, he’s not trying to show you that he’s taking your time together seriously. “If he keeps his phone in his pocket the entire time you’re out, it’s definitely a sign he wanted to use the time to get to know you more than just a friend,” says Steinberg.
11. He does not talk about other women
If he sees you as a friend, there’s a chance he’ll ask for a female perspective on his dating life. If he sees you as a potential match, he won’t want you to feel insecure by competition, says Spira.
12. He brings a small gift
If he brings flowers or that book he recommended you read last week, he wants you to know he’s thinking of you. “It’s a token of his admiration for you,” Steinberg says.
13. He sends a post-date text
He will sow the seed of future meetups. “He may send you a text message after the date saying he had a great time with you and would like to see you again,” says Spira.
14. He compliments your appearance
He will want to boost your self-esteem and let you know he’s attracted to you, both signs of romantic intent. “In non-dating situations, guys don’t freely offer these types of affirmations,” says Steinberg.
15. He introduces you carefully
Spira says to pay attention if you happen to run into someone he knows. He won’t want to send a mixed signal here. “He’ll introduce you as his date, and not just a friend or someone he’s hanging out with,” she says.
The more signs he shows, the more likely it is you’re on a date. Spira says to watch for clues you’re not on a date, too, which include a handshake or a wimpy hug at the end of the night, bringing friends around, splitting the check, inquiries for dating advice or tons of talk about sex and his ex. Remember that if it’s a date, he’ll want to put his best foot forward.